More on Philosophy’s ‘White Man’ Problem

Justin E. H. Smith in his own blog:

6a00d83453bcda69e201a73e0345e5970d-250wiThere have been many forceful contributions recently to the discussion of academic philosophy's 'white man problem' (see in particular here). I have been trying in my own way to contribute to these discussions, but what I am able to contribute is limited by the fact that in my social identity I am pegged as a cis straight white man (though in truth, I feel like protesting, it is far more complicated than this; and isn't it always!), and also by the fact that I disagree with my political allies in the effort to make academic philosophy more inclusive on some fundamental philosophical points as to what this inclusiveness must involve. Allow me to elaborate briefly on this latter limitation.

Jonardon Ganeri, following Homi Bhabha, articulates a distinction between two sorts of intercultural communication: cosmopolitanism and pluralism. Cosmopolitanism tends to interpret different viewpoints as “co-inhabitants in a single matrix, and to that extent [as] susceptible to syncretism,” while the cardinal tenet of pluralism “is that the irreconcilable absence of consensus is itself something of political, social, or philosophical value” (31). It has come to seem to me that most proposed solutions to the 'white man problem' in philosophy are based on a philosophical commitment to pluralism, in the sense defined, whereas I believe that cosmopolitanism is far more appropriate to the subject under investigation: expressions of philosophical ideas about, say, mind-body dualism, or the relationship between utterances and the things the utterances are about, really do exist in a universal matrix, bounded by the evolutionary history of the human species, whether they occur in Europe, India, or Amazonia. To study any of these ideas as if they were the particular property of any constituency in virtue of affiliation or ancestry is simply bad scholarship.

More here.