In Time in the Ditch, John McCumber explores the effects of McCarthyism on American philosophy in the 1940s and 1950 and the possibility that the political pressures of the McCarthy era skewed the development of the discipline. Why was silence maintained for so long? And what happens, McCumber asks, when political events and pressures go beyond interfering with individual careers to influence the nature of a discipline itself?
JOHN McCUMBER is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the UCLA Department of Germanic Languages. He is the author of six books, including Poetic Interaction: Language, Freedom Reason; The Company of Words: Hegel, Language, and Systematic Philosophy;Metaphysics and Oppression: Heidegger’s Challenge to Western Philosophy; and Reshaping Reason: Toward a New Philosophy.
"John McCumber provides a fascinating and compelling analysis of the effects of McCarthyism on American philosophy. He describes how it shaped the lives of both individual philosophers and philosophic institutions. He explores how the goals, methods, and contents of philosophy have to this day been distorted and impoverished by McCarthyism. Indeed, McCumber delineates how and why the intellectual power of American philosophy has suffered more than did the goals, methods and contents of other disciplines where similar witch hunts occurred. McCarthyism, and the complicity with McCarthyism adopted by the APA and the AAUP especially, has deflected American philosophy from that important and distinctive of philosophic tasks: 'know thyself.'" —Philosophical Studies
"Everyone admits in the abstract that behavior affects belief. Shameful conduct requires rationalizations, which broaden out. But people squirm when this truth is applied to particular (and especially to controversial) episodes. This book will, rightly, cause a lot of squirming." —Garry Wills, author of Nixon Agonistes and Lincoln at Gettysburg
"John McCumber takes us on a much-needed first step toward confronting the effect of American politics on American philosophy. Specifically, he traces the connection between the rise to dominance of analytic philosophy and the rise of Cold War anticommunism and conformism." —Ethics
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