Students at the University of London are calling for all white philosophers to be removed from school syllabi unless they are studied from a “critical standpoint.”
The student union at the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has released a statement calling for the majority of studied philosophers to be from Africa and Asia.
The decision would drop many well-regarded thinkers–such as Plato, Descartes, Immanuel Kant, and others–from the curriculum because of the color of their skin. The statement has come under fire from many school administrators and philosophers, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
Last night philosopher Sir Roger Scruton lambasted the union’s demand, saying: “This suggests ignorance and a determination not to overcome that ignorance. You can’t rule out a whole area of intellectual endeavor without having investigated it and clearly they haven’t investigated what they mean by white philosophy. If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.”
The vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, Sir Anthony Seldon, warned against rewriting history “as some might like it to have been,” while the head of SOAS’s Religions and Philosophies department, Erica Hunter, said, “I would firmly resist dropping philosophers or historians just because it was fashionable.”
The students’ statement is part of a larger attempt to counter the “colonial violence” that is “embedded” in British universities.
“If white philosophers were required [in the curriculum],” the student union says, “their work should be taught from a ‘critical standpoint,’ to acknowledge the colonial context in which many of their works were written.”