In Search of Non-White Philosophers
[Editors Note: This article was originally published January 13th, 2017 at libertymachinenews.com]
Philosophy students from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London, have demanded their syllabus comprise a majority of Asian and African philosophers. In an attempt to ‘address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism’, they have shown themselves to be completely ignorant of the history and indeed the nature of philosophy itself. As Sir Roger Scruton rightly put it, ‘If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.’ Nevertheless, I don’t even think one can study a legitimate philosophy course with a minority of white philosophers in the course material.To prove my point requires only a glance at non-white philosophy. The post-colonial world of African philosophy is simply reactionary and ethnocentric and so, as a school, hasn’t contributed anything new or substantial to the body of philosophy in toto. Well then, what about the pre-colonial world going back to ancient times? Surely, the black race has contributed enough to warrant at least a semester?
Of course, the Egyptians! They lived on the African continent and so, logically, we must conclude their nobles and kings were all black. Not at all. Tutankhamun’s mummy has well-preserved fair hair and facial features, as do his grandparents, and he has Western European DNA – just one example, with other archaeological evidence besides. The Pharaohs were white until around 800BC and again later, when Ptolemy ruled Egypt in Alexander’s wake, making Cleopatra et al. white too.
Yet, many will still insist that we don’t know this for sure, dismissing the evidence with accusations of scientific racism. More than this, however, many black youths embarrassingly assert the much-derided statement, ‘We were kings!’ due to the deliberate ambiguity introduced by leftist academia. There is no evidence that the great thinkers of Egypt were black, rather the opposite.
But St. Augustine of Hippo was African; he states he is African in his writings, doesn’t he? Augustine was African, yes, but he was undoubtedly caucasian. His mother was a Berber and his father, Patricius, was of the upper-class and could not have held that name, nor that position, were he anything other than a white man. Kings, blacks have been, but major Christian philosophers, no.
So then we’re left with Yoruba and Bantu – the former, a primitive form of spiritism; the latter, another religion with a belief in a supreme being, the philosophy of which views beings and forces as synonymous or at least thinks primarily in terms of the forces which bring things into existence. But this is hardly something overlooked by all of the various competing schools of thought in Western philosophy.
Let’s move into Asia for our course material, then. The Islamic world produced some great thinkers; surely we can get some great non-white thinkers from here? Alas, no. If it’s white philosophers you want, you’ve come to the right place. The Persians were Indo-Aryan peoples – kinsmen of the nomadic white people who migrated West into Europe but who chose to travel South-East instead. Yes, Zoroastrianism was developed by white people. Furthermore, the greatest Islamic philosophy was produced by the brilliant Iranians, despite the hindrance of Islam, and their work was based heavily on Plato and Aristotle – yet more white men.
Many have recently complained that the upcoming biopic of Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic, should not star Leonardo DiCaprio as the poet, because he wasn’t white. But, as Jason Reza Jorjani explains, ‘When [Rumi] was born in 1207, Khorasan was still ethnically white.’ Khorasan was a hotbed for esoteric interpretations of the Qur’an, being a former strongly Zoroastrian area, which produced a large number of important Persian scientists and poets. Well, what about the Chinese?
Just as today, Asian governments seek to remedy their so-called creativity deficit, so too in history, the East Asian people have been superior at assimilating received knowledge, but not innovating new concepts. So, whilst I find classical Taoism quite beautiful, it is apparent that the Chinese had no distinction between the sacred and profane in their philosophy and so they simply accepted whatever was written by some previous sage, only ever concerned with adaptation or preservation. Duchesne notes the contrast with the West in The Uniqueness of Western Civilization:
‘The West, I believe, has always embodied a reflective sense of self-doubt about what it knows and what remains to be known, a kind of restlessness that has been both destructive and productive of new literary styles, musical trends, visual motifs, and novel ideas. By contrast, the intellectual and artistic order of China has remained relatively stable throughout its history.’
Truly, philosophy is the creation of the restlessly rationalizing mind of Western man, a unique trait of our civilization noted by many scholars. We alone, despite the setback of Christian dogmatism, have welcomed competing schools of thought, such has been the Western hunger for knowledge of the unknown, inner and outer.
So, there can be no philosophy course aside from the white man. In us, philosophy lives moves and has its being. If you want a course on mysticism and primitive religions, the world is your oyster. But if you want a philosophy course with no white philosophers, you have a better chance of finding a course about rap music with no black people or a course about Kung Fu with no Asians, because at least there aresignificant white figures in those fields. All this may sound harsh, but sometimes naughty teenagers, like the SOAS student union, need to be spanked to remind them they still have some growing up to do.