Essay by aaron1_3High School, 10th gradeA+, November 2003

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Conclusions American philosophy, then, may still not have climbed out of the ditch into which the McCarthy Era plunged it. This is not to say that the defensive posture it adopted after World War II had no good results. Once philosophy had been removed from concrete questions, it gained a certain sort of freedom. It was, for example, only after the McCarthy Era, with its obvious anti-Semitism, that Jews were really free to pursue careers in American philosophy departments. One wonders how soon that would have happened if philosophy had continued to be the sort of value-bound enterprise it tended to be earlier--bound in part, inevitably, to the higher wisdoms of the small-minded America of which Bertrand Russell--and not only he--had run afoul. The McCarthy Era also brought universities some practical benefits. The dominance of a single paradigm meant that philosophy departments could be small and cheap, as befitted a possibly subversive frill in a country whose chosen mission was the preservation of global free enterprise.

Genuine and fecund pluralism, were it ever to arrive in the New World, would require far larger and more expensive departments, and there is no evidence that American universities are ready to support them. 20 The result, as Reiner Schürmann has written, is that the long awaited dialogue between analytical and Continental philosophy is taking place in Europe, not in America [321]. It seems possible, in other words, that the choices it made in the fifties enabled American philosophy to survive the McCarthy Era. But they may have allowed it to survive only as a reduced and reticent discipline, able to see just a few stars in an intellectual firmament that was once much wider and more interesting. Whether these advantages from forty years ago justify perpetuating the present situation much longer is...