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The Philosophy Scare: The Politics of Reason in the Early Cold War (Hardback)
  • The Philosophy Scare: The Politics of Reason in the Early Cold War (Hardback)
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The Philosophy Scare: The Politics of Reason in the Early Cold War (Hardback)

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£34.00
Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 04/10/2016
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From the rise of formalist novels that championed the heroism of the individual to the proliferation of abstract art as a counter to socialist realism, the years of the Cold War had a profound impact on American intellectual life. As John McCumber shows in this fascinating account, philosophy, too, was hit hard by the Red Scare. Detailing the immense political pressures that reshaped philosophy departments in midcentury America, he shows just how radically politics can alter the course of intellectual history. McCumber begins with the story of Max Otto, whose appointment to the UCLA Philosophy Department in 1947 was met with widespread protest charging him as an atheist. Drawing on Otto's case, McCumber details the hugely successful conservative efforts that, by 1960, had all but banished the existentialist and pragmatist paradigms not to mention Marxism from philosophy departments all across the country, replacing them with an approach that valorized scientific objectivity and free markets and which downplayed the anti-theistic implications of modern thought. As he shows, while there have since been many instances of definitive and even explosive rejection of this conservative trend, its effects can still be seen at American universities today.

Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226396385
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"McCumber moves confidently from particular administrative facts to generalizations about the theoretical biases of professional philosophers."
--Times Literary Supplement
What came was the rise of what McCumber calls Cold War philosophy, which used the 'mathematical veneer of scientific objectivity and practices of market freedom [largely engineered by] forces outside the university' to remove what today is known as continental philosophy. All this occurred as US philosophy entered "the dark realm of socio-political pressure."
McCumber's key text to explain the philosophical side of this is Reichenbach's The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, as well as his impressive research using primary sources (university documents, catalogues, letters, memorandums, directives, policies, etc.) gained through substantial archival work as well as secondary sources (newspaper articles, etc.). The rise of Cold War philosophy occurred at a time "deeply haunted by fear of atheism" and "the battle against communism [for which] rational choice theory (RCT) provided the favoured model." With the support of governmental and academic elites, RCT quickly took over the discipline of economics and made strong inroads into political science." It also affected philosophy... One thing one might learn from McCumber's exquisite book is that as soon as the freedom to write philosophy is restricted, philosophy is damaged. If anything, McCumber's book is a timely reminder that true philosophy can only exist in absolute freedom.--Philosophy in Review

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