Friday, December 2, 2011

In Response to Florian

I know that it is my week to blog and not to comment but after reading Flo's post "Is it Philosophy" I was inspired, so to speak.

I do not think that the purpose of philosophy is the study of wisdom. I think that philosophy is, rather, a rational investigation of certain types of knowledge or being. Its aim is to find the truth in certain claims. With that being said, I think that it IS the case that we can consider feminist philosophy or critical race theories to actually be what we formerly call philosophy. For women to inject themselves into the discipline, they are effectively asserting that there is some truth to be gained from the fact that women, also, have a voice which has been left out of the past analysis in late philosophical theories. Likewise, in critical race theory, these theorists are highlighting the investigation of the "being" of nonwhite humans. Since philosophy is a type of rational questioning of what it means for things/people to "be" a certain way, I think that we could also say that it is very important to the concept of philosophy, itself, to not leave out the questions that actually derive its existence.

Furthermore, to leave out the fact that things like race and feminism make an important contribution to the theory, means that philosophers are further dominating the field by exercising their (captial "W") Whiteness. If it were the case that we just left philosophy the way that it is without changing anything, then wouldn't we also, still be moving further away from the idea that philosophy can exhibit a type of universality. If we can just be honest with ourselves for a minute, we will recognize how most of the forerunners of philosophy speak from the same perspective and prescribe to others their dominant perspective, not taking care to involve other perspectives that make up a substantial part of the population, yet who are not recognized because they are not viewed as "important."

In my philosophy of race class with Dr. J last semester we discussed how it was very easy for most students to say that we're in a post-racism society and make naive claims such as that. The reality of the matter is, however, that we are not in a post racism society and just the fact that bringing up the topic of racism promotes such controversial dialogue indicates that there are still some questions to be answered about just the very meaning of what it means to be racist. If this is the case, then don't you think that it is kind of the responsibility of philosophers to play a part in answering ethical questions that we, ourselves, seem to be stumped by like, "What is racism?" or "How do we know whether there is such a thing as a non-racist society?" This is why the contributions of feminist theorists and critical race theorists are necessary.

Thanks for the inspiration Flo!! lol


  1. I agree! I think that most of the issues of the modern world can be applied and analyzed with philosophy. Philosophy should not have the connotation that it has today: A bunch of old half naked men arguing about how they should live their lives.

    Rather, philosophy should be able to encompass most of the issues we see today. Feminism, race issues, economic issues, etc can all be under the category of philosophy.

  2. Ivy, I really enjoyed your post! When people ask what is philosophy and some answer that it is the study of knowledge or wisdom, I think it is not about the study in a sense of investigating knowledge but in a sense of analyzing knowledge to make certain logic claims. All of philosophy is constituted by the questions of its own time. However, like you said, philosophy is more that just these questions. Philosophy is reaching to conclusions about various topics of this world through discussion. Additionally, I agree with your characterization of why feminist and race theorists are important, as they present the study of philosophy with new, very important questions. For the study of philosophy, we have since the beginning of the semester,from Plato onwards, that dialogue is a crucial element in the study itself. The dialogue is what helps pose and answer crucial philosophical questions like those presented by the feminist and race theorists.

  3. I agree with a lot of what you say about the importance of recognizing these viewpoints when considering philosophical theories and claims. It is somewhat paradoxical but interesting that a Western philosophical view (where there is one ultimate "good") actually MUST be validated BY those groups exactly because it claims universality.

    I think that one thing ALL philosophies MUST do is consider individual experiences. Investigating what human beings think and believe, should do, and why people are this way takes experience of life. So, if all these groups are experiencing life in different ways, surely philosophy can get something different and new out of individuals of different groups.


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