Philosophy Otherwise: Knowledge Reconsidered, Learning Reimagined

Series Introduction

In the summer of 2020, Ground Motive launched the series “Uprooting Racism” as part of a collective effort to reflect on the relationship between philosophy and racial inequality, as well as to critically examine ICS’s complicity with systemic racism. The urgency of this conversation only increased in the following summer, as reports of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools in Canada started to become public. The polarization of public discourse in North America, around these and other similarly challenging topics, motivated our community to continue to seek venues and channels to create a robust interdisciplinary conversation that could shed light on what we are to do as an institution to uproot systemic racism.

Over time, and in response to these and other issues, discussions about systemic injustice among the ICS community have broadened, so as to include questions not only about racism, colonialism, and white supremacy, but also about patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other forms of marginalization. We have also been challenged to explore these questions beyond the conceptual level, and to think about how these issues intersect in peoples’ lives pedagogically and existentially. This latest Ground Motive series offers a forum for continued reflection about our philosophical practices in light of this broadening scope of inquiry. How do conversations about systemic racism, for example, not simply introduce new topics into our practice of philosophical inquiry, but force us to reimagine this practice itself? In order to generate a conversation at this level, we have invited scholars within and adjacent to the ICS community to offer reflections on what it means to unlearn and relearn the philosophical craft from their particular vantage points.

In launching “Philosophy Otherwise: Knowledge Reconsidered, Learning Reimagined,” we intend not simply to think philosophically about oppression, marginalization, and colonization, but to reflect on the ways that philosophy itself is internally complicit with these structural realities, working to subtly entrench them. While keeping the historical and socio-political injustices that inspire our philosophical questions close at hand, we want to reflect critically on the many habits, assumptions, and barriers through which philosophy has privileged certain voices and experiences. We especially want to resist philosophy’s tendency to exclude the positionality of its author, knowing that pretensions to “neutrality” simply reinforce the centrality of its privileged standpoints (such as that of whiteness and maleness).

What does it look like to dispense with the dichotomy between “academic” and “personal” writing, and to pursue a form of scholarship that does not conceal “where” we speak and write from? What exemplars of this way of doing philosophy already exist (within and outside of the Western philosophical canon), and what is required to allow these voices to (re)define the philosophical craft? In addition to reflecting philosophically about these questions, “Philosophy Otherwise” seeks to explore practices that better equip us—individually and as a community—to listen to alternative philosophical voices and to integrate them in our approach to the philosophical craft.

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