John Brockman (literary agent)

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John Brockman
John Brockman at DLD.jpg
John Brockman in 2009
Born (1941-02-16) February 16, 1941 (age 80)
Occupationliterary agent

John Brockman (born February 16, 1941) is a literary agent and author specializing in scientific literature. He established the Edge Foundation, an organization that brings together leading edge thinkers across a broad range of scientific and technical fields.

Brockman was born to immigrants of Polish-Jewish descent in a poor Irish Catholic enclave of Boston, Massachusetts.[1] Expanding on C.P. Snow's "two cultures", he introduced the "third culture"[2] consisting of "those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are."

He led a scientific salon for 20 years, asking an annual question to a host of renowned scientists and publishing their answers in book form,[3] which he decided to symbolically close down in 2018.[4]

He is an editor of[5][6]

Association with Jeffrey Epstein[edit]

In 2019 it was suggested that Brockman was the “intellectual enabler” of Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who died awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking girls, who kept Brockman’s Edge Foundation on a retainer fee.[7]

Brockman's famous literary dinners—held during the TED Conference—were, for a number of years after Epstein’s conviction, almost entirely funded by Epstein. This allowed Epstein to mingle with scientists, startup icons and other tech billionaires.[8][9]


  • "Traditional American intellectuals are, in a sense, increasingly reactionary, and quite often proudly (and perversely) ignorant of many of the truly significant intellectual accomplishments of our time." [10]
  • "Throughout history, only a small number of people have done the serious thinking for everybody." [10]



  1. ^ Dazed (2012-07-08). "John Brockman". Dazed. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  2. ^ John, Warren St (1999-09-01). "Agent Provocateur". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  3. ^ Marcus, Gary (2013-01-15). "What We Should Fear". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  4. ^ The Last John Brockman Edge Question, Wired article.
  5. ^ Popova, Maria (2011-09-14). "15 Years of Cutting-Edge Thinking on Understanding the Mind". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  6. ^ Naughton, John (2012-01-08). "John Brockman: the man who runs the world's smartest website". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  7. ^ Morozov, Evgeny (Aug 22, 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein's Intellectual Enabler". Retrieved Oct 13, 2019 – via The New Republic. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Morozov, Evgeny (Sep 7, 2019). "The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites". Retrieved Oct 13, 2019 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "How Jeffrey Epstein Bankrolled An Exclusive Intellectual Boys Club And Reaped The Benefits". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  10. ^ a b "Introduction |". Retrieved Oct 14, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Cultural Studies versus the "Third Culture". Slavoj Žižek. The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol 101, No 1, pages 19–32 (2002). (article)
  • Counterculture, Cyberculture, and the Third Culture: Reinventing Civilization, Then and Now. Lee Worden. West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California, Iain Boal, Janferie Stone, Michael Watts, Cal Winslow (eds.), pages 199–221. (Oakland, 2012).
  • The "Third Culture Intellectuals" and Charles Darwin. Pascal Fischer. Anglistentag Konstanz 2013: Proceedings (XXXV), pages 71-80 (2014). (article)
  • Neurohistory Is Bunk?: The Not-So-Deep History of the Postclassical Mind. Max Stadler. Isis, Vol 105, No 1, pages 133-144 (2014). (article)
  • Network Celebrity: Entrepreneurship and the New Public Intellectuals. Fred Turner. Christine Larson. Public Culture, Vol 27, No 1, pages 53-84 (2015) (article)

External links[edit]