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. I completely agree with the proposal to eliminate all or some of these “figures”. Beyond the topic of culture and race, the thought processes of these individuals lacked so much depth with alot of their own personal theories having been disproved. I would like to know what other groups of people believed to be the answers and meanings of life because those views did exist. It is not racist to suggest other people of these times when this teaching is reinforcing a white supreme THEORY, by teaching about people that believed in slavery etc. That doesn’t coincide with the “we are all one” Western play today. Sickening.

  2. To finish off in a more usable matter tracing the development of Christianity from the birth of Christ through the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire and it’s fall, middle ages dark ages to the Rennaisance Remember there was a period with no philosophical development exept for Augustine – very little bit by Thomas Scotus and then a great leap again by Thomas Aquinas. Augustine was a Platoist and Aquiinas more of a follower of Socrates.

    The one thing to glean from those years was the morality of choosing rational thinking and reason over religious dogma. Some held that reasoning was ok and preferred unless it conflicted with dogma and this led to Aquinas stating ‘to be a Christian one must accept salvation is only through belief in Jesus Christ (Christ from the Greek Christos meaning a guide.’ The immoral act would be accepting Christianity with out that belief.

    At the same time the dark age period Avveroes a Mohammedan philosopher and scientist (this was before the days of modern Islam which holds all you need to know is in the Quran.) He and others not only gathered up and saved what they could of pagan to Socrates (pagan meaning not Christian) and spent a great deal of time trying, as others had and Augustine/Aquinas would to get Platonic and Socratic ideas to work WITH Mohammedism.

    Anotheer must stop is Occam (spelled a few different ways ) Razor which in original form is nothing like it’s used today in common but incorrect form. He stated ‘Don’t multiply entities beyond necessities. contrasting what is truly necessary with those things uneccessary and those things that might become necessary but aren’t at present the ‘just in case’ answers. An example is the USA’s Draft Law.

    All of this led to the Age of Enlightenment and then a second dark age starting with Kant etc. on the one hand and the Socratic line on the other. In the 1960s the missing part of Socrates views were completed and published. the followers of Plato Kant etc. are still floundering. Objectivism usually in the lead as it discovered the mystic ‘other world’ is very knowable it exists in the mind of those who think and reason and is a common cause of answers from dreams or ‘bright ideas’ and fully supports creativity and artistic endeavours. But gives credit where it’s due. The Mind and Reality.

    On the religious side it’s still a matter of reason and then faith with a large number of supporting statements. Whose right whose wrong? My goal is to be the first to report back from the other side. with the answer.

    1. PS most of the references needed are available from Amazon’s Kindle program at no charge and many for one or two dollars. A few can be had at far less than list price through the used book store web Amazon created.

  3. Most of what Europe is today is based on knowledge stemming from the middle east, from cities like Aleppo or Alexandria, from Arabs, Greeks and Roman scholars that were not white and would probably face extradition if caught today on Heathrow’s airport. Sois students are victims of European appropriation and re-creation of thought as fundamentally white and European. The fact is that without the arabs translation to Latin, without people like Averroes or Maimonides in Cordoba, without cities like Toledo, Sicily, Constantinopla, and whatever, Europe would have never reached this knowledge that is at the core of their identity. However, what students do not seem to realise is that the error lies in identifying the 18th century more or less as the beginning of enlightenment when it is in fact the continuation after a long obscure glitch where the church, Witch-hunt, catholic inquisition and so on, reigned across the continent. White thinkers and white mythology would be paganism, Norse and all that.

    1. Prettiy much have it nailed except what is the real reason for the students acting out when that University offers all of what we’ve discussed. Answer? Snowfake politics and dislike of serious scholarship looking for an easy social promotion grade..

  4. Tiresome. If not for the Arabs we’d have 95% of the books in the library of Alexandria. And the libraries of India. But the Arabs said if it wasn’t necessary to know, it wasn’t in the Quran. And if it was nessecary to know, it was already in there.

    1. Sorry, but you have the history wrong. It was the “Christian” Theophilus who destroyed the remnant of the library at Alexandria.

      The Arabs came much later.

      1. I thought I made it plain it was Christians destroying the scrolls and books but I did realize they did in Alexandria as well. Near I could find out most of the one that were saved and protected were by the dwellers of the middle east both Judaic and Coptic with the Muslims coming later but then this went on through much of the period between the fall of the Roman Empire through the Dark Ages. That was the period when science flourished in that area. The invention of zero and some very advanced navigation and celestial observations to name a few. Throw in a few Crusaders and the Golden Horde and then the Kurds.over those centuries. Europeans were too busy trying to avoid both the plague and being burned for witch craft etc.

        1. In any case with the current situation either the adults take charge of the mewlers or they hang signs saying Welcome Back – To The Dark Ages.

  5. Years ago I bought a t shirt in South Africa depicting that great African philosopher, Robert Mugabe. On the front it said, underneath his picture, “Rob Mugabe!”

    On the back it said, “Before he robs you.”

    1. Sinve we are on tghe subject. The history of philosophy in Africa is rooted deeply into Western more than Eastern Cultures. But consider this the real heroes of Philosophy were the Muslims AND the Jews of the middle East. Starting with the pre-Plato era up through the pre Judaic,Christian and eventually Muslim eras Philosophy had flourished. Then came the dark ages. For some six hundred years such things as philosophy were not ‘allowed’ upon pain of death. Scholars searched for anyone, someone to fill the gap and could come up only with one a monkish sort of fellow who preceded St. Augustine and followed Ancias Boethius if I remember the dates correctly Eruigena .

      “:One of the earliest writings of the author of the great philosophical work, Periphyseon (On the Division of Nature), Johannes Scottus, known as Eruigena. It contributes to the age-old debate on the question of human destiny in the present world and in the afterlife.” Both were executed for not conforming to the stated dogma of The Church.

      However the writings of the great philosophers of Greece and Rome and there follow ons disappeared in Europe usually by burning along with the burning of those who wrote them if they were still alive. i

      The manuscripts remaining that were saved were in the middle east in the care of Muslim and Judaic schools of science and philosophy. Otherwise my current 200 plus volume library would be about four pages long.

      With that as a start and along with one branch of Christianity started by Paul later St. Paul in the Coptic regions Philosophy was little developed except for the contributions of Johannes Scottus until well after the Dark Ages which brought Western Culture back to life in the age of Enlightment only to see it die to some extent with the appearance of Kant and followers. The entire centuries long process did not come to any sort of conclusion until the 1950’s and 1960’s with the development of Objectivism thus finishing off that started by Aristotle and the final writings of Plato who had repudiated his own earlier conclusion though Kant and Engels and company don’t tell you that.

      But in Africa nothing much if anything happened until the 1900s when an infant form of philosophical development – still based on Western Culture began. Eventuall each gets his own turn but it had a lot to do with education, ability to read and write, etc. which meant in Africa Dutch, German, French, some Italian and some English. Countries like Central African Republic didnt have a written language in many of their tribes until the missionaries (see Baptist Mid Missions for one source) provided a written language and a local language Bible.

      There was probably some trade route interchange of ideas during the reign of Temujin Ghengis Khan between Eastern and Western.

      Sort of filling in the blank spots of history as to why places like University of London are one of the few to have a full philosopohy curriculum includinng African and Eastern.

      What they don’t have are students worthy of the cost of their going beyond the 11+ level.

      1. “But consider this the real heroes of Philosophy were the Muslims AND the Jews of the middle East.”chi

        No, there were also Christians, Hindus, etc., involved.

        1. During the stated time period the Christians were busy burning books and then doing the Crusade thing killing other Christians who dressed and talked funny. Hardly heros of philosophy or the sciences. There were to my unsurprise no Hindus in Europe or the Middle East. More than likely some Chinese in sea faring junks. Contrary to popular belief the Arabs didn’t defeat the Christian Crusaders for control of Jerusalem. It was Saladin of Kurdistan. Another reason to have given them back their country. They predate the Palestinian interlopers by many many centuries.

          1. Ok. Who doesn’t predate the Muslims. Jews? Christians? Seriously. And so what if they weren’t philosophers. They forfeit the right to exist? Clarify, please.

            1. In this case the order is the development of philosophy in Greece which a laundry list of different versions which went to Socrates – Plato – Aristotle. From there it split the Plato Line and the Aristotle line with both still having incomplete conclusions. That led eventually to the creation of the Judaic and then Christian religions and later the Muslims. Sort of the short cut road map.

              Plato line contributed heavily to that among other conclusions Aristotle went completely there is no ‘other world’ and reality is whereas the Plato line went all mystic as well as defining the model of a ‘collective’ with philosophers in charge The first check and balance was they were the rulers but they weren’t allowed to own anything thus doing away with greed etc. In any case Aristotle went to independent thinking people that know something is real when the rock smacks your head and it hurts.

              To an extent. He never finished up and Plato stated his system wouldn’t work as the freedom loving greeks would never stand for being part of a collective.

              The rest came well after the spread of Christianity in it’s Plato model and the church did a lot of book burning to remove traces of any opposing memories. etc etc etc. As my Uncle a retired missionary stated while the books of the bible are correct and none are missing they are also those written by men and their contents decided by a church leadership of which only one was allowed. He’s a protestant of course.

              So you end up with the Germans with Got Mit Uns, the crusaders later the 20th Century Christians saying God will Prevail and God Wills it and the Russians saying ‘We serve the party and treating Lenin as a God.’

              Short versioni the above was a 25 lecture course and I took it from four or five different schools.

              in the end ….A is still A and Hillary is still expecting to be ‘The Party’ the people serve.

              1. I’m sorry.

                ” From there it split the Plato Line and the Aristotle line with both still having incomplete conclusions. That led eventually to the creation of the Judaic and then Christian religions and later the Muslims. Sort of the short cut road map.”

                Do I have you calibrated correctly? Plato and Aristotle had something to do with creating Judaism and Christianity? I imagine Moses and Christ would be stunned to learn that.

                1. Why? God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform and since the Book was written a few hundred years after – by men – I wouldn’t doubt they were struggling to explain all this. It came out all right in the end. Perhaps God looked down and said, “Well – that’s why I gave you brains and free thought.But the history while not taught in some parts of the West is verified by the original writings recovered from the mid east and being an objectivist I look at that as a bona fide miracle they weren’t burned as well.,

                  In any case free thought means you can have your own opinion. After all Christianity is a big tent religion with over 300 different and differing views. Not sure about Judaism. i am sure about Bahai which as I think two and Islam has around eighty. Yet all people of the book and all worshipping the same God. Then going out and killing each other internally or externally until it’s times for prayers.

                  God by the way when it’s translated back in it’s various forms means “The One”

                  1. God may work in mysterious ways but the Book wasn’t written a few hundred years later. Not if you’re talking about the New Testament.

                    It dates to the second century. And Christian writings such as the Didache date to the first.

                    1. About 150 years to write all the parts and then a few hundred years of papal interecession to decide on some of its’ passages that did not coincide with their thoughts. That is still the way things are done so it’s no surprise Early Christians had to work hard to establish not a few went to the stake or the lions. But some of the earlier converts liked the idea that they said, This is it the rules don’t change A is A. unlike their previous beliefs which had all sorts of ways of becoming something else. Stubborn maybe but it worked. “God’s In His Heaven, all’s right with the world and it’s up to mankind to make the best of it.” Not even socrates had gone that far. Later some of the Christians turned back to mysticism and of course in politics one of the other branches of philosophy we’ve seen the result. Kant and the others should have listened to Plato when he recanted and repudiated some of his conclusions.

                2. Steve57 – I don’t think Moses and Jesus the Christ are following this blog.

            1. Not everyone is perfect expecially mean. My congregations to a use a non descriptive word is for the most part anti violence but I spent 24 years in the combat arms doing people in and breaking things. I really wish I had been younger. Our generation worked in the swamps with the leeches not knowing that swamp draining was just around the corner.

        2. Steve57 – I am bothered by the term hero of philosophy. Wouldn’t the heroes be the Golden Age of Greek Philosophy? If there are heroes. And only one of them put his life on the line by taking poison.

          1. I wouldn’t argue that and I wouldn’t argue those in Europe who put their lives on the line doing the same. Except I don’t know of any. Most couldn’t read to begin with.

      2. Michael Aarethun – the loss of a great deal of ancient literature, philosophy, etc. was because of the burning and destruction of the Library of Alexandria. We know from reading Aristotle’s Poetics that at least a hundred famous Greek plays are missing because of the fire. Several very important histories are missing, both Greek and Roman. Who knows what else?

  6. Fortunately we’re only a few years away until Academia coughs up the 1960s detritus like a hair ball.

    Or, even better, that Academia as we used to know it ceases to exist.

    1. If the snowflakes win then the term academia and academy etc will be stricken from the language as well. It is the name of the first institution of higher learning – established by Plato – and attended by Aristotle. Twenty five centuries wiped out by fear and incompetency in exchange for less than a hundred years of effort.

      The silly part is what they ask for is already part of the curriculum. But I’m sure they will be busy days it’s presented – snowfaking.

  7. African philosophers? Well, Egypt is in Africa and Euclid wrote his Elements there. In those days Euclid would have been considered a philosopher. Have the students study Euclid’s Elements. After all, Abraham Lincoln did so, in the evenings while on circuit, until he was satisfied that he understood all the propositions.

    1. A Greek living among Egyptian Copts is not what people have in mind when the term ‘African’ is used.

  8. How do you study philosophy and not study Plato and Descartes? Why on Earth do you want to be ignorant about a subject just because some of the philosophies were developed by white people? The students are anti-white racist bigots. And insane.

      1. and objectivism which after many centuries tied everything together into a useful tool for reality. For one thing politicians were for the first time able to cope with the idea that saying is not the same thing as doing and sometimes doing is not the same thing as accomplishing anything….or something.

        Besides it handles creativity and original ideas in a more meaningful manner than does paying for something before one finds out what one is buying into. Thus making it possible to solve questions such as why did people celebrate the millennium a year early instead of all year long. Think of all the sales opportunities they missed.

        As for African Philosophy it goes back as far as 1920 roughly. and borrows heavily from whitebreads. Therein lies the answer. Why study your ass off for four years when you get to the same objective in two to four weeks not counting days off for ‘demanding’ and ‘riots.’ But there are indeed African Philosophers though the oldest traces or Early African Philosophy goes back into the early 1900s .

  9. “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill conviction but to destroy the capacity to form any.” Hannah Arendt

    One can only learn so much in school — I have had many, many excellent (I define that as demanding, fair and passionate about their subject matter) teachers – but I long ago realized it was up to me to feed my curiosity and continue on after attaining degrees to learn. Maybe because I dropped out and went back to school when I was 31 I was more mature.

    The kids who are being turned into snowlakes are so young!

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