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on Diversity in Philosophy: a #philosophy12 dialog

October 1, 2014

Mr. Jackson (leader, comrade, and dear friend) and teacher of an open, online high school philosophy course in BC, brought back to the forefront of a long-term, over-arching conversation in #philosophy12 the presence-absence of non-Western, Female, Other perspectives and scholarship in the field of Philosophy.

From the #philosophy12 course blog Bryan wrote: Diversity in Philosophy:  It is my hope that in our current semester of philosophical inquiry, we move beyond this inclination toward ‘tokenism,’ and delve into different traditions of knowing beyond those dominant here on the western shores of North America. I am curious though:

  • How have others confronted this problem of modern philosophy?
  • Are there in-born limitations in trying to comprehend cultural norms too far outside of our own?
  • What attitudes, approaches or processes might help challenge us to move beyond our own cultural perspectives?

Me: The follow-up questions here are great Bryan, so I’ll bite. Yesterday I googled “Why teach philosophy?” and ran into a piece in the Atlantic: “Why Study Philosophy? ‘To Challenge Your Own Point of View'” An interview with Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex

[In the interview she is asked: What changes in philosophy curriculum have you seen over the last 40 years?]

“One thing that’s changed tremendously is the presence of women and the change in focus because of that.” (RNG)

further investigation lead me to a podcast with this modern, female philosopher discussing the her book and so on.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein — philosopher, author, and Genius-grant recipient — returns to the Rationally Speaking podcast to discuss her latest book, “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away.” Rebecca, Julia and Massimo argue over the value of philosophy in modern science, and whether it makes sense to designate “experts” in ethical reasoning.

Finally, because I haven’t read the book, but now I’m really curious, I searched out a book review of her book. In April, the Washington Post reviewed the book summing it up with:

“In “Plato at the Googleplex,” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein set out to showcase, in sometimes startling ways, the continuing relevance of a classic philosopher. But what’s remarkable is that she actually brings off this tour de force with both madcap brilliance and commanding authority.”

I realize my reply is not philosophizing on the next-level questions Bryan posed. Instead it responds.

“How have others confronted this problem of modern philosophy?”

I dig in.

I find a new-to-me voice, an alternate choice, and then I keep learning–listening, reading, contemplation.

I act.

Any genuine philosophy leads to action and from action back again to wonder, to the enduring fact of mystery. Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, 1934)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2014 10:01 pm

    Yes! Thanks for these great referrals, and concluding thought: press on. The Miller quote even belies the praxis at the heart of critical pedagogy, as well: act >> reflect >> act.

    It’s great to have you back in grade twelve this September, pressing, questioning, consturbing as ever. I love it when we do that.

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