I’ve been reading a lot of Roger Scruton’s work lately (long article to come), and was struck by one of his typically acute summary statements about today’s academic left in Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands, which is that “they make fury respectable, and gobbledegook the mark of academic success.” This came to mind in coming across this story in The Telegraph today:
Students at a prestigious London university are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant should be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white.
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)’s student union is insisting that when studying philosophy “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia.
They say it is part of wider campaign to “decolonise” the university, as the seek to “address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism”. . .
Sir Roger Scruton, the philosopher, said the demands suggest “ignorance”. “You can’t rule out a whole area of intellectual endeavour without having investigated it and clearly they haven’t investigated what they mean by white philosophy,” he told The Mail on Sunday.
“If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.’
Of course, last I checked, most of the intellectual heroes of the left are white. Does the desired expulsion of white philosophers extend to Marx, Marcuse, Horkheimer, Adorno, Lukacs, and Foucault? If so I’d almost be willing to go along with this idea. And if they’re not being dumped, why not? If pigment is the source of error. . .
P.S. The Daily Mail headline is more fun:
JOHN adds: This is so pathetically stupid that it doesn’t really deserve a response. I take it that these people claim to be studying philosophy, right? So that means they need to study philosophers. What we call philosophy is a Western invention. I remember when Paul and I were taking a Greek philosophy class from Professor Duggan at Dartmouth. At one point in a lecture, he referred to “Western philosophy,” then paused and said: “as if there were any other kind.”
If you don’t want to study Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Kant, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, fine. Don’t. But then don’t pretend that you are studying philosophy.