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Tue Jan 22, 2013, 06:20 AM

 

Can non-Europeans think? [View all]

In a lovely little panegyric for the distinguished European philosopher Slavoj Zizek, published recently on Al Jazeera, we read:

There are many important and active philosophers today: Judith Butler in the United States, Simon Critchley in England, Victoria Camps in Spain, Jean-Luc Nancy in France, Chantal Mouffe in Belgium, Gianni Vattimo in Italy, Peter Sloterdijk in Germany and in Slovenia, Slavoj Zizek, not to mention others working in Brazil, Australia and China.

What immediately strikes the reader when seeing this opening paragraph is the unabashedly European character and disposition of the thing the author calls "philosophy today" - thus laying a claim on both the subject and time that is peculiar and in fact an exclusive property of Europe. The question of course is not the globality of philosophical visions that all these prominent European...philosophers indeed share...The question is rather something else: What about other thinkers who operate outside this European philosophical pedigree...

Why is European philosophy "philosophy", but African philosophy ethnophilosophy, the way Indian music is ethnomusic - an ethnographic logic that is based on the very same reasoning that if you were to go to the New York Museum of Natural History... you only see animals and non-white peoples and their cultures featured inside glass cages, but no cage is in sight for white people and their cultures...

What in effect Gramsci discovers, as a southern Italian suffering in the dungeons of European fascism, is what in Brooklyn we call chutzpah, to think yourself the centre of universe, a self-assuredness that gives the philosopher that certain panache and authority to think in absolutists and grand narrative terms....It is precisely that self-confidence, that self-consciousness, that audacity to think yourself the agent of history that enables a thinker to think his particular thinking is "Thinking" in universal terms, and his philosophy "Philosophy" and his city square "The Public Space", and thus he a globally recognised Public Intellectual.

There is thus a direct and unmitigated structural link between an empire, or an imperial frame of reference, and the presumed universality of a thinker thinking in the bosoms of that empire...

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/2013114142638797542.html

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Reply Can non-Europeans think? [View all]
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
tama Jan 2013 #1