Racism, Colonialism, and Philosophy

Faculteit Wijsbegeerte
Jaar 2021/22
Vakcode FI194LB
Vaknaam Racism, Colonialism, and Philosophy
Niveau(s) master
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester II b
Rooster rooster.rug.nl

Uitgebreide vaknaam Racism, Colonialism, and the History of Philosophy
Leerdoelen Upon successful completion of the course, participants should be able to:
  • Understand the role of racism in the development of the philosophical canon in Europe;
  • More competently engage with primary and secondary philosophical sources on racism, slavery, and colonialism;
  • Think critically about eurocentrism in the contemporary historiography of philosophy
Omschrijving The question of race has played a crucial role in the history of philosophy. At the moment that colonialism was at its height, major modern philosophers such as Locke, Hume, and Kant developed theories about race and contributed to an emerging racist discourse. Their ideas are often appalling from a contemporary point of view. Kant, for example, wrote that ‘humanity exists in its greatest perfection in the white race’ and that ‘the Negro can be disciplined and cultivated, but is never genuinely civilised’. He further wrote that ‘Americans and Blacks cannot govern themselves. They thus serve only for slaves.’ These ideas were not only used to legitimise colonialist practices but also played a formative role in the historiography of philosophy. Overviews of the history of philosophy that were written before 1800 CE typically include Asian and African sources and often assume that philosophy originated outside Europe. In contrast, historiographers who followed Kant developed a completely Eurocentric canon of philosophy and actively wrote all Asian and African traditions out of its history. Most academic institutes of philosophy still adhere to this canon and ‘non-Western’ philosophy continues to be underrepresented in contemporary philosophical practice.
In this course, we will explore the way in which philosophers have written about race and colonialism, and the way in which their ideas shaped the historiography of philosophy. The course starts with a brief introduction into the history of racism and colonialism, and a philosophical analysis of the relevant concepts. After that, we will look at historical philosophical sources that deal with the question of race, slavery, colonialism, and anti-colonialism. Next, we will focus on racism in the historiography of philosophy and its impact on the canon of philosophy. In our final class, we will discuss post-colonial and decolonial perspectives on philosophy and its future.
Uren per week
(Lecture, seminar)
Toetsvorm essay
Vaksoort master
Docent(en) Lucas den Boer
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
Race and Racism in Modern Philosophy Andrew Valls (ed.) 9780801472749 ca. €  34,00
Opmerkingen The course is primarily aimed at students with an interest in the history of philosophy. However, the course may also be of interest to students of other programmes, including history, development studies, and religious studies.
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