It was my first visit to the USA as it would be to Japan, China and India. The first call at Kennedy Airport was to Noam Chomsky to fix an appointment. Leaving the airport I saw an amazing scene. Four lanes with Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford limousines, driving at a quiet, flowing speed, middle-aged ladies behind the wheel, all with sunglasses like glittering butterflies, enjoying their matriarchal position. The scene radiated a sense of collective self-consciousness, and with such a power that I thought: this is never going to change. Impossible. Such a collective self-consciousness is impenetrable.
I visited Noam Chomsky in Cambridge at M.I.T., Leszek Kolakowski on the campus in Berkeley, Rudolph Carnap in his home in Los Angeles but failed to meet Herbert Marcuse as I was an hour late. He was too busy, leaving to Europe for holidays. He proposed to meet in the South of France. He would send me all the details where to find him, and told me not to ask anyone for directions. The intelligence services of the US, Great Britain and France followed him everywhere after vice-president Agnew called him the most dangerous man of the US. Students in those days carried banners with three M’s: Marx, Mao, Marcuse.
Talking to Rudolph Carnap, I had to be careful as a midwife who helps to deliver a baby. My aim was a debate between him and Martin Heidegger, if not face to face, then by satellite. When I finally uttered my intention, he looked at me a bit puzzled and said: “Arne Naess wrote Four Modern Philosophers, about Sartre, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and me. Naess is a very intelligent man. I don’t understand how he could write about Heidegger and me in one and the same book.” My response was indirect, saying that a few months ago I had read a Victorian etiquette book. It said that it was not suitable to place on your shelves books written by a woman next to those written by a man. He didn’t comment. But the egg was laid. Our talk was open-minded, without reaching a clear decision. Carnap explained to me how to get to the other side of the city. Three months later he died. A great thinker had left us. See video Philosophers, Part IV: Karl Popper & John Eccles. Popper explains the difference between his philosophy and the philosophy of Carnap and the Vienna Circle.