Students at a prestigious London university are demanding that white philosophers such as Plato, Descartes and Kant should be removed from the curriculum in order to help "decolonialize" the school.
According to the UK Telegraph, the student union at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a leading center for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, believes that “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from those regions. This is apparently part of the student union's broader campaign to “decolonise” the university as it seeks to “address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism.”
Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton said that the demands suggest “ignorance.” That's a start -- they also suggest arrogance and anti-intellectualism. “You can't rule out a whole area of intellectual endeavour without having investigated it and clearly they haven't investigated what they mean by white philosophy,” Scruton told The Mail on Sunday. “If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant's Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it."
So would we, but that won't happen because the student union isn't interested in engaging with Scruton, because he's a white philosopher, or in justifying its racist agenda.
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, added: “There is a real danger political correctness is getting out of control. We need to understand the world as it was and not to rewrite history as some might like it to have been.”
It's depressing that such a statement even needs to be made, but such is the State of Academia today.
The student union at SOAS declared that “decolonising” the university and “confronting the white institution” is one of its priorities for the academic year.
It said that “white philosophers” should be studied only “if required,” adding that their work should be taught solely from a “critical standpoint.” “For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so-called 'Enlightenment' philosophers wrote within,” it added.
Erica Hunter, head of SOAS's Religions and Philosophies department, said the union's viewpoint was “rather ridiculous,” adding: “I would firmly resist dropping philosophers or historians just because it was fashionable.”
Deborah Johnston, Pro-Director (Learning and Teaching), said, "One of the great strengths of SOAS is that we have always looked at world issues from the perspective of the regions we study – Asia, Africa & Middle East. Informed and critical debate and discussion about the curriculum we teach is a healthy and proper part of the academic enterprise."
Again, though, the radicals making demands on the school aren't interested in healthy, critical debate, but in deconstructing Western civilization.
It's high time that university administrations simply rejected any and all such ludicrous, bullying, anti-intellectual demands and expel any student who spends more time and energy trying to "decolonialize" the university than actually studying.