Roundtable on Bryan Van Norden's Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto

Expositions, Dec 07, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was engaged in this collection of essays not because I am concerned with the content of philosophy classes in American universities but because while I call myself a philosopher I am very much outside what contemporary philosophy would call itself. The focus of the work is to increase the emphasis on teaching LCTP (Less Commonly Taught Philosophers) and especially those of diverse cultures. But really, the point should be whether the definition of philosophy - as defined and taught by professors in western institutions makes any sense at all.

In this light, if you read only one of these essays, it should probably be Grant J. Silva on Professional Philosophy, “Diversity,” and Racist Exclusion. He writes, "increasing the number of white people (men in particular) studying 'non-Western' philosophy does not diversify philosophy; neither does offering admission into 'club philosophy' to racialized minorities, women, and those from the 'formerly' colonized world albeit on terms requiring their assimilation into well-established philosophical questions, methods, and problematics."

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