When Did Philosophy Get So Boring?

How stories got whitewashed out of philosophy

indi.ca

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The trickster Coyote, a great philosophical teacher

As I wrote last time, we’ve got names all wrong. As Bryan Van Nordern has a book about, Anglo-European philosophy has devoured the entire term, to the exclusion of the world. And as the academy insists, poetry is in dusty white tomes in libraries and certainly not the strip clubs of Atlanta and clubs of Lagos, where in fact it literally lives and breathes. It’s actually a battle to call rap poetry, or to call even Chinese philosophy philosophy. The White Empire thrives on remaining nameless and giving the wrong names to everything else.

Philosophy

My wife is studying classical Indian philosophy at Oxford, but they call it classical Indian religion. Yet as one of her profs said, the distinction was meaningless at the time, and indeed still is. Yet I saw a ‘History Of Philosophy’ on a cousin’s desk and it started from Socrates and went through a bunch of dusty white men. No mention of the majority of the world or the majority of history at all. They’ve really monopolized the term.

The truth is that the incels of their day monopolized philosophy and made it this male, white, and boring thing. And this power structure is preserved today by universities that have dozens of people studying obscure permutations of Kant and often no one studying the philosophy of Africa, or Native Americans, or even China or India. It’s the same as their practice of calling us minorities and themselves a majority. It’s all back to the wrecking of names.

I studied philosophy (among other things) in university (at McGill) and the intro course was Logic which was A) really difficult and made no sense and B) which we never used again. I took philosophy of mind classes where the idea that there was no self was barely discussed, and certainly no context was brought from the deep thinking on the subject from Buddhism, Taoism, etc. A lot of it was philosophical dick measuring among white men, obscure and difficult language and—with the exception of a few thought experiments—very few stories.

The big distinction made between philosophy and religion/superstition is that the latter are just stories. And yet, really, what’s the difference? It’s all stories, and ancient stories simply paint…

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Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.