Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Diversity in Philosophy

We’ve spoken a little in #Philosophy12 this semester about the propensity of texts and teachers to rely on the roots of Western (and often male-centric) philosophers to form the basis of our understanding on the subject of knowledge, something we will likely address as we move toward epistemology this semester. However, the discussion has come about in our classroom in years past with respect to the search for female metaphysicians:

This tweet [to the left] started a ball rolling that saw me sending a late-at-night email to MIT Philosophy professor Sally Haslanger about why there weren’t any female Metaphysicians listed on Wikipedia’s List of Metaphysicists [Note: the page has since been updated to reflect our question.]. Sally was gracious enough to email me back the following morning, asking if she might “share your question with some of my female metaphysician friends?”

Which gave way to a conversation that began in room 111 – and on #ds106radio – showing up on this blog, moderated at least in part by Berit Brogaard:

Bryan Jackson recently wrote to Sally Haslanger to ask why there were no women on the list of metaphysicians on wikipedia. Sally shared this very good question with a few philosophers who have been interested in similar questions. After some discussion via email Sally started revising the entry. I have no idea how to revise wiki entries or what the rules are for making revisions, but I strongly encourage wiki-tech-y people to make further improvements to the list.

This week, GNA rekindled this conversation by passing along this essay by Concordia professor Justin E. H. Smith on “Philosophy’s Western Bias“:

The goal of reflecting the diversity of our own society by expanding the curriculum to include non-European traditions has so far been a tremendous failure. And it has failed for at least two reasons. One is that non-Western philosophy is typically represented in philosophy curricula in a merely token way. Western philosophy is always the unmarked category, the standard in relation to which non-Western philosophy provides a useful contrast. Non-Western philosophy is not approached on its own terms, and thus philosophy remains, implicitly and by default, Western. Second, non-Western philosophy, when it does appear in curricula, is treated in a methodologically and philosophically unsound way: it is crudely supposed to be wholly indigenous to the cultures that produce it and to be fundamentally different than Western philosophy in areas like its valuation of reason or its dependence on myth and religion.  In this way, non-Western philosophy remains fundamentally “other.”

It is my hope that in our current semester of philosophical inquiry, we move beyond this inclination toward ‘tokenism,’ and delve into different traditions of knowing beyond those dominant here on the western shores of North America.

I am curious though:

  • How have others confronted this problem of modern philosophy?
  • Are there in-born limitations in trying to comprehend cultural norms too far outside of our own?
  • What attitudes, approaches or processes might help challenge us to move beyond our own cultural perspectives?

 

 

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Attribution and the Ethic of the Link

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 8.20.06 PMAs we set out into blogging this term in Philosophy 12, I want to highlight this observation from GNA Garcia on our first batch of posts. For the face-to-face authors’ part, the objective of this first assignment was to tackle the mechanics and navigation of the course site; but I appreciate GNA focusing our efforts as we build on this early success. Such feedback and interaction is what makes our open online participation valuable, as GNA and Stephen Downes have once again shown in this new year by sharing their consistently thought-provoking comments and contributions to the class.

To GNA’s point, citation and attribution of the ideas we use to support our own thinking is indeed how we contextualize, connect, and make sense of ourselves as academics, and as such are integral parts of scholarship. But they are also vital aspects of building knowledge on the web (something Mr. Downes may wish to elaborate on in a comment), something we are similarly involved in here with Philosophy 12, and which we will delve into further in our Epistemology unit.

In the meantime though I would challenge our face-to-face participants to look to the posting of our upcoming “What is Philosophy?” assignments as an opportunity to engage what NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen calls “the ethic of the link.”

 

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MIT Professors Pitch in to #Philosophy12

This tweet started a ball rolling that saw me sending a late-at-night email to MIT Philosophy professor Sally Haslanger about why there weren’t any female Metaphysicians listed on Wikipedia’s List of Metaphysicists [Note: the page has since been updated to reflect our question.]. Sally was gracious enough to email me back the following morning, asking if she might “share your question with some of my female metaphysician friends?”

Which gave way to a conversation that began in room 111 – and on #ds106radio – showing up on this blog, moderated at least in part by Berit Brogaard:

Bryan Jackson recently wrote to Sally Haslanger to ask why there were no women on the list of metaphysicians on wikipedia. Sally shared this very good question with a few philosophers who have been interested in similar questions. After some discussion via email Sally started revising the entry. I have no idea how to revise wiki entries or what the rules are for making revisions, but I strongly encourage wiki-tech-y people to make further improvements to the list.

The comments on the post delve into the mechanics of editing wikipedia to reflect a broader perspective (which was one of our intents), as well as debate about the inclusion of various philosophers on the list itself, which is much more than, though maybe just exactly, what I was hoping when I sent Sally that initial email.

Hopefully it is only the beginning of a dialogue with some of the continents most intelligent philosophers and theorists as we continue our exploration of #philosophy12.

 
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