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« More phenomenal content! | Main | Why zombies are inconceivable (short version) »

June 09, 2008


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I wonder why white people (more specifically white men) are so attracted to academic philosophy...

I have three main theories
A) it is related to how philosophy includes so much discussion of origional thinkers (like Aristotle) and original works. Which makes it like a lesson in western evolution of philosophy as opposed to a description of the state of current knowledge.

B) that many debates have a component of English semantics - and those who know multiple languages certain 'teaser debates' can easily appear ridiculous as opposed to interesting.

C) That there is some sort of social acceptance of philosophy in western society such that parents feel proud their sons and daughters are philosophers or at least not noticeably embarrassed.

FP might talk about barriers to entry to the field and there would be something to that - but how many non white non males even apply to study philosophy?

Still I suppose others have given this topic more thought than me.

Aaron Boyden

I see that you have ruled out any possibility that there might be good reasons to be interested in philosophy. It does occur to me that the sort of extremely abstract thinking involved in analytic philosophy is probably easier for the privileged. Privilege means fewer particular circumstances which one is required to pay attention to constantly in the interests of survival. Since abstract thinking is quite useful in many situations, this is likely one of the small advantages of the privileged which helps them maintain their position. My preference would be to try to make this useful tool more accessible to everyone, rather than to try to take it away from the privileged (and that may even be a more realistic goal; taking things away from the privileged is hard. They're good at defending their turf, or they wouldn't be the privileged).


hmm the psychology of the privilege argument sounds like a good candidate for part of the explanation.

But are, for example, women really THAT much less privileged than men?

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