"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, July 07, 2017

On Western Civ and the DWMs

With Pavlovian predictability, the left has gone apespit over President Trump's recent praise of "Western Civilization." What is Western Civilization, they ask, followed with the usual litany of deplorable racism, sexism, this-ism and that-ism. Dead White Male-ism.

Philosopher John S. Searle took this on in 1990, with the now-[in]famous Storm over the University.


One curious feature of the entire debate about what is "hegemonic," "patriarchal," or "exclusionary" is that it is largely about the study of literature. No one seems to complain that the great ideas in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology, for example, also come in large part from dead white European males. Historians of science have been showing how talented women were discouraged throughout modern history from pursuing scientific careers. But I have not heard any complaints from physics departments that the ideas of Newton, Einstein, Rutherford, Bohr; Schrödinger, etc., were deficient because of the scientists' origins or gender. Even in history of philosophy courses—as opposed to general education courses—there is little or no objection to the fact that the great philosophers taught in these courses are mostly white Western males, from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle through Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. 


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