University of London Students Demand That “White Philosophers” Be Replaced By African and Asian Philosophers

mte1oda0otcxmjy3mzywmjy5300px-university_of_london-svgUniversities are facing new demands that students be protected from required reading of white authors or that departments take steps to combat white dominance, particularly in English departments. We have previously discussed demands at Yale of English students to eliminate the requirement of reading white authors like Chaucer and Shakespeare. Then there were the Penn students in the English department removing the portrait of Shakespeare and replacing it with a black writer. Now students at the respected University of London are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant be removed from philosophy courses in favor of minority writers. Before these students destroy one of the best university systems in the world, they may want to at least consider a Descartes quote: “It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)’s student union reportedly has demanded that students should be taught philosophy in a way that “the majority of philosophers on our courses” are from Africa and Asia.

The student union at SOAS insists that many of these philosophers were the product of colonial discrimination and privilege and that departments must now “decolonize” the curriculum and any teaching of “white philosophers” from the Enlightenment should be taught from a “critical standpoint.”

Here is the section from the SOAS proposal that has attracted the most attention:

Decolonising SOAS: Confronting the White Institution:

Decolonising SOAS is a campaign that aims to address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism within our university. We believe that SOAS should take a lead on such questions given its unique history within British colonialism. In light of the centenary and SOAS’ aims of curating a vision for itself for the next 100 years, this conversation is pivotal for its future direction.

Our aims are a continuation of the campaign last year:

To hold events that will engage in a wider discussion about expressions of racial and economic inequality at the university, focussing on SOAS.
To address histories of erasure prevalent in the curriculum with a particular focus on SOAS’ colonial origins and present alternative ways of knowing.
To interrogate SOAS’ self-image as progressive and diverse.
To use the centenary year as a point of intervention to discuss how the university must move forward and demand that we, as students of colour, are involved in the curriculum review process.
To review 10 first year courses, working with academics to discuss points of revamp, reform and in some cases overhaul.
To make sure that the majority of the philosophers on our courses are from the Global South or it’s diaspora. SOAS’s focus is on Asia and Africa and therefore the foundations of its theories should be presented by Asian or African philosophers (or the diaspora).
If white philosophers are required, then to teach their work from a critical standpoint. For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so called “Enlightenment” philosophers wrote within.

In the end, the content of these courses is a matter of academic freedom, though many scholars do teach the context of writings as part of understanding the writers. However, demanding that the majority of philosophers be non-white is itself racist and artificial. Plato, Aristotle, and others were vital parts of the foundation for Western thought.

The SOAS proposal comes at a precarious time for English universities, as discussed today. England is considering a rating system for universities driven by the popularity of courses or schools — pushing schools further toward a market-driven model of education and away from classic high education training.

95 thoughts on “University of London Students Demand That “White Philosophers” Be Replaced By African and Asian Philosophers”

    1. Sorry to have inferred that Olly. Many flatly reject any arguments on broad grounds on this blog. You have made mention of that many times in the past. It appears to me the progressives are frequently guilty of that which they preach. They would be glad to toss out an old white guy. Because he happens to be an old white guy.

      1. I always find it humorous to see those videos where someone is asking the person on the street who said the following quote? It’s a quote that progressives routinely attack. The options are typically all Republicans with one lone Democrat. Of course the video shows the person selecting one of the Republicans only to be stunned to find out it was the Democrat. We’ve become so intellectually lazy that we now have people that will gladly tell us what to believe. Woe be the day when the majority of voters trust an app to do their vetting for them.

    2. And yet at times it’s necessary. For Example. Ma’am can you describe the assailant? Well tall thin young (deleted) with an (deleted) so the officer goes out and finds a choice of five but only the dreadlocked caucasian girl was guilty.

  1. Well, I hate to disabuse these earnest students of their ignorance, but if you dissect every historical person who ever committed a crime, or benefitted from colonization, or violence, or crime, accordion to today’s standards, then you will have to excise the entire body of the written word dating back to antiquity.

    Because, you see, every single human being on the planet in the past behaved according to the customs and mores of the times. African tribes, prior to European contact, engaged in slavery and the violation of female captives amongst themselves (as has every single culture of which I am aware.) The fierce Maori of New Zealand were infamous cannibals, and in fact those facial expressions and tongues in their hakas are intended to remind their terrified foe of that. Every single group of people who ran out of resources and had the strength to take better land, for survival, from their neighbors, did so, and that includes Native Americans. There are many tribes which few have heard of, their language lost, because other tribes wiped them completely out.

    So why would you condemn the European colonists but study the Mohawk, infamous for wiping out or enslaving their enemies? Or why study Middle Eastern Affairs or traditions, since they, too, were infamous conquerers and colonizers? And I guarantee you that today’s attitudes towards women and minorities were not shared by our ancestors 500 years ago. And why is a huge percentage of Asia related to Ghengis Khan? Did every 4th woman for thousands of miles fall in romantic love with him?

    Most of our knowledge is learned; it is not innate. We build upon the discoveries and knowledge of our predecessors, which is why we no longer live in caves.

    Remove the best of our ancient cores of wisdom because they did not conform to today’s values, and we’ve just suffered a self-inflicted intellectual stroke, losing our long term memory.

    1. Well summed-up Karen. The problem is that you illustrate the problem in rational thinking terms, where today, as Olly notes, we are to reject all these people based on racial profiling. We have seen that plenty from the progressive type here.

    2. “I hate to disabuse these earnest students of their ignorance, but if you dissect every historical person who ever committed a crime, or benefitted from colonization, or violence, or crime, accordion to today’s standards, then you will have to excise the entire body of the written word dating back to antiquity.”

      Part of what we celebrate in writers from the past is their ability to see beyond the conventions of their age.

      If we have made any progress at all, it is because a few from the past could see the problems with the standards that guided their age.

      How could anyone think themselves enlightened yet throw out the best efforts of those when went before?

    3. I had to stand and applaud to an audience of one. Never judge anything except in the context of it’s times!. Vikings begat blonde Irish and Spaniards the black Irish ha ha ha. I’m a big fan of Temujin because his government enforced with death penalties a ban on bigotry. Compliance of death solved a lot of problems.

    1. LMAO I do believe the Australians would not agree. The Rabbit Proof Fence and it’s applications were done under British rule. Under Australian rule I think they gave rabbits the vote and promised to keep the Kiwis out. (Tongue firmly in cheek) Go All Blacks!

  2. Anyone who aspires to be a writer or wants to better understand literature should read Aristotle’s Poetics. This is an open and shut case and it isn’t open to debate. Although I remember being skeptical as a college student about how such an old work could be relevant, I immediately saw that the powerful ideas in it easily traversed time, space, and cultures. This amazing work was like a cerebral thunderbolt. The last thing on my mind was what color the author’s skin was.

    Sure, college curricula should be reviewed periodically, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, regardless of the color of that baby’s skin.

    1. The whole thing with these snowflakes is political and in England it’s the fashion for the gentry support the far left. However any report that failed to include the following is spurious and the whole thing is now fake news.

      University of London is the center of philosophica and cultural l studies for Britain. As such read the following carefully. No one goes there who does not want either cultural or philosphy or both.

      [Rating temporarily unavailable. We are working to restore service. No user action is necessary]
      Cultural Studies – Browse Courses – Study London › Courses
      Results 1 – 20 – Your search returned 724 results in the Cultural Studies category. … Heythrop College, University of London … the chance to engage with a diverse range of philosophical traditions from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

      this is just one of several (meaning four to seven) answers clearly detailing the phrase ‘replace/ with’ is impossible as the demanded subjects are already in place. I suspect the whole thing besides being fake and contrived can be traced to failing student looking for a way around a failing grade.

      And all it took was eight second with google.

  3. The obvious answer is the British school system is built on that paricular life style and the Ivy League and IL wannabe’s slavishly follow the British system and that goes back to Woodrow Wilson. You might be on to something. Carter has always been something of a limp wrist and Michelle Antoinette wears the pants in the White House as did Hillary. Now I have zero problems if they can do their job. I do not equate sexual preference except for victimizing women by women, racism except for the practioners of same, and religious differences except for overt bigotry from the most secular camp with the ability to govern. Exceptions noted again are practicing racists, sexists and bigots.

  4. So what about Oscar Wilde? Are we going to toss the world’s most famous homosexual out with the other dreaded white guys?

    1. Roscoe – I thought Alexander the Great was the world’s most famous homosexual.

      1. Famous, infamous yeah it’s debatable. We could throw in J. Edgar Hoover too.
        I was just thinking in a literary, maybe not necessarily a true philosopher in title, but thought why not take in the LBG*, and persecuted, side of it while we are on the exclusive of the inclusive slant.
        *Before T was a thing.
        Also, just to stick to the authenticity meme, shouldn’t the class be taught in Swahili or Hindi?

        1. The notion that J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual was a fantasy of a biographer with an axe to grind. See Arthur Schlesinger on his thesis. The notion that Alexander the Great was is speculative. Oscar Wilde was more likely bisexual.

          1. DesperatelySeekingSusan – I think that Alexander the Great was gay and in a fit of drunken rage killed his long-time boyfriend. It is more than guesswork that he was a homosexual.

  5. This is what you get when you fail to teach entire generations HOW to critically-think. I suspect these students cannot form an argument against the philosophy so instead they argue against the philosopher. Our own form of government was derived from a careful examination of the ancient and enlightenment era philosophies. Is Plato, Locke, Jefferson and Madison’s work to be dismissed solely on the color of their skin or the continent they originated from?

    This lack of critical-thinking is not limited to the millennials. We have multiple generations of voters that cannot understand that it’s possible to oppose public servants on principle alone. Opposing Obama MUST be racism. Opposing Clinton MUST be misogyny. For many, politics are only skin deep. Ironically, this makes Kant’s “What is Enlightenment” more true than ever. So by all means, eliminate him.

  6. What I genuinely don’t understand is how the students seem to hold so much power.

    I understand that social pressure can be quite powerful as it appears on tv and websites but I am left thinking the students could do nothing if it wasn’t already in the faculty and administration’s interests to gut and vandalize their curriculum and institutions.

    1. Great comment. Faculty is most known for not showing up teach, using stand ins from the graduate students trying to become faculty and working with their ghost writers to publish or perish ‘on university paid for time’ then requiring the book for their own classes and collectively the books of other clones disguised as educators. See for a lot of expensive nothing.

  7. First you have to get the attention of the staid and established institutions. Then review. Then adjust. Or we will all be Republican someday with our heads up there where the sun don’t shine.

    1. issac – you CAN be an Independent like several of us here on the blog. You do not have to become a Republican.

      1. Paul,
        For Issac, review and adjust doesn’t go any deeper than looking at the calendar. Remember, in modern progressivism, anything from the 18th century is outdated. We’ve progressed don’t ya know.

        1. Isaac doesn’t review or adjust he is a clone of the regressive left and does exactly as he is told. Thinking has nothing to do with it as it isn’t allowed in the snowflake collective. Two seconds of pity and fagiddaboutem.

  8. Look for Al Sharpton to write a philosophy textbook and cash in on this.

    1. Nick – Sharpton already has a summer job of discontent. He is going to be stirring up the masses.

        1. Stirring up the messes? Down here they call it menudo up north they call it fillet de soul in finer PC restaurants.

  9. The problem is the always pick someone who isn’t worthy to shine the shoes of the one he replaced. That said, there are excellent Asian philosophers, but I am at a loss to think of any Subsaharan African ones.

    1. It was a collecting pool of pre-literate cultures as recently as 1885 and about 40% of the adult population is illiterate as we speak. I knew of a college which had a course in “African philosophy”. It was taught by a theologian from Rhodesia and followed the written work of three African thinkers. One was Leopold Senghor. He was a man of letters, but not a philosopher per se. There were two others, but neither had more to do with academic philosophy than Senghor did. I don’t think there is any such thing as “African philosophy’, merely the derivative work of African academics working with occidental materials. Not sure what ‘asian’ philosophy is supposed to be either (bar perhaps a signature set of schools of thought on the usual questions an occidental philosopher would address).

  10. The world is turning. Indigenous European population shrinking. Japan’s population is shrinking at an alarming rate. It appears that the UK as we know it is being erased and replaced. The same will be happening here soon. People may be starting to see it, but it very well could be too late.

  11. Sooo, on a side note, I ordered this book, When Prophecy Fails by Festinger, and it came in. It is a Harper Torchbook and appears to have been printed in 1964. In the back of the book are 12 pages of other Harper Torchbooks, and you can tell these are university level books.

    Here is a link to some of the books, and more importantly a publishing history:

    Notice how they peak in 1967, and then fall off. I have never even heard of most of these books. I did order one from Amazon, The Survival of the Pagan Gods by Seznec, and here is a pdf of the first 30 or so pages:

    My point is, I had a pretty good education, and am very widely read, but I never encountered any of these books in college in the early 2000s. I did come across a few of them in my Dad’s library, but the level of education seems to have fallen off in the early 70’s. I showed my dad my English lit book when I was in high school, and it was full of pictures. He showed me his, and it was full of writing. Same with my algebra book. His was writing and problems.

    We live in a highly technical civilization, and if our standards continue to fall, we are screwed.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. Also, if Black and Asians are concerned that there are too many “white” philosophers, perhaps we could just have separate, but equal, schools again! That way, White kids could learn about Kant, and Plato, and the Asian kids could study Buddha and Lao-Tze, and the Black kids could study Malcom X or whatever. One of the advantages is, that White kids would not have to read any of that godawful Maya Angelou alleged poetry.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  13. I might agree with these students if Descartes was to be considered a great philosopher for animal husbandry curricula, the idea of censoring these great men in African studies courses is only a beginning if the students are allowed to accomplish their goals and promote this type of racism.

    A main factor in why this happens is because academic leadership lend too much power to student organizations or individually. I suspect that much of it was because it comported to their own individual political agendas, but now it has gotten out of hand. We should blame the faculty for this mess.

    1. Mr. Smith is pointing in the right direction. The senior “executives” at most colleges and universities today are loathe to say/do anything which they feel might pose a threat to their bloated compensation packages; so they do nothing about declining standards. Their god is gold.

  14. Des Carte was good at one thing and it rhymed with cart.
    Kant was but a rant.

    We need new professors and new philosophers to study. Women not men. None of this request for fun and games. London Bridge has fallen down and moved to Arizona.
    All from here, Howard DeMere.

    Anyone know where that last phrase came from? TV show. Midwest. Forty years ago. Town on a river. No millenials would remember.

    1. Not only remember I’ve been across it dozens of times in it’s orginal position.

    2. The inclusion of philosophers should rise from their philosophy and how it influenced events and the impact. That can be either good, bad, or ho-hum. Pitching them because they are now consider passe or are the wrong color and from the wrong continent is is ludicrous. But, then this is not about critical thinking, ideology, or who has influenced thought in the different stages of the history of man. It is important to include the philosophers of Asia and show who their writings influenced and how and how these thinkers are now influencing the west.

  15. Hmmm. Why stop at white philosophers? Why not demand Professors of Color, too! If a bunch of white liberal educational types start getting get canned for being white, that would probably hasten the end of the liberals at the college level. Plus, it would be fun watching the Ivory Tower Whites have to go to work in the Real World.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Think about the course offering changes ….. Think about it. Courses in Western Civilization, European History, American History, etc would either be eliminated or cease to have meaning. How can you teach European History, British law, the development of America, the Constitution, etc. if white, European philosopher are verbotten?

      1. Um, you can’t. Which I believe to be precisely the goal. Invalidate the philosopher and you invalidate the philosophy.

        1. This is why I fail miserably when trying to understand anyone that believes our Declaration of Independence has no application in the 21st century. These people argue AGAINST the idea of natural, unalienable rights and instead argue ALL rights come from government. This argument defies reason as it denies our most basic human interest; self-preservation.

  16. As an older very white Anglo and after spending time with Descartes and Kant in various disciplines, I have to agree that those two need a strong vetting. Their influence did unimaginable persistent damage to ethics and civility. Unbridled relativism led to the deconstructionist which permeates the liberal elite. Were they they only ones? Certainly not…but their sugar coated poison keeps getting distributed.

    1. Well, I kant understand Kant but Descartes was quite important in the development of mathematics.

      1. Good comment Kant couldn’t understand math either. But I noticed snowflakes come in all shapes, sizes and natinalities. What makes them think the will get a better grade in Asian Philosophy? To the best of my recollection Africa has never produced such a thing other than possibly the Carthaginians and perhaps around Egypt. To be up on Middle Eastern philosophical studies and cultures it demands starting with Mithrades and tracing the development of the Judaic and Christian religions which were followed by Mohammed and much later some others Hindu? India? Not that much in sharing my dinner with flies. Cao
        Dai? Now that one is interesting to say the least. I wonder how many snow flakes can identify any of their principal saints. One was French. I’ll bet a pound to the the dollar that Universit will cave. Point is if they can’t do the job why are they getting paid. Elect someone from the student council.

      2. Can’t wait to see the results when they try to apply critical theory to the math department.

    2. Certainly there should be a review of philosophers works & ideology and decisions made on if they should be covered. The same is rue of authors in literature departments.But to have the vetting based on their country or continent of origin, race or skin color serves only the believers of political correctness above all.Martin Luther King wanted to eliminate skin color as a qualifier. We were slowly getting there.

  17. The little Frankensteins have turned on their masters. Pass the popcorn since it’s very hard to have a rooting interest in either the chicken or the egg to mix a metaphor or two. Both seem worthy of extinction,

    1. Yes, and I have run out of patience. No critical analysis today, just, ‘They are ignorant little shits.’. Heaven help these kids when they finally leave their bubble.

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