The CIA’s Reports on Philosophers


Via the interesting and often rather amusing Twitter feed of Nolen Gertz, a philosopher at the University of Twente, we learn of what is surely just some of the work that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has done on philosophers.

There’s a 150-page formerly confidential report on Soviet philosophers in the dozen years following the end of World War II. It begins with a politician’s plot to “jerk the professional philosophers out of [their] position of entrenched independence” and goes on to discuss Marxism, Stalin’s work in linguistics, attempts to create a “special socialist logic”, the history and philosophy of science, the politics of logic (“the translators of Tarski were attacked for their uncritical approach, and the dangerous connection of mathematical logic with neo-positivism was pointed out as a warning against overenthusiasm”), the “de-Stalinisation” of philosophy, Eastern philosophy, and more.

France: Defection of Leftist Intellectuals,” a 1985 CIA document, “focuses on the changing attitudes of French intellectuals and gauges the probable impact on the political environment in which policy is made.” The report discusses “the New Philosophers,” a “coterie of young intellectual firebrands” who had been “assailing the French left as dangerous and implicitly totalitarian.”

Another document (from 1976) reports that the French newspaper, Liberation, founded with support from Jean-Paul Sartre, published a list of 32 alleged CIA agents in France and had announced plans to expose more, prompting Gertz to quip, “Sartre started Wikileaks.”

Has anyone else unearthed other philosophy-related documents authored by or for the CIA or other intelligence agencies?

And what, if anything, are they saying about today’s philosophers?

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