You’ve all heard, of course, about the professor who calls reason itself a white male construct:
A philosophy and religion professor at Syracuse University gave an interview to The New York Times Thursday in which he critiqued the notion of pure reason as simply being a “white male Euro-Christian construction.”
Prof. John Caputo was being interviewed by fellow philosophy professor George Yancy for the 13th installment of an interview series Yancy conducts with philosophers regarding racial topics.
Given its emphasis on first principles and abstract thought, it may be tempting to view academic philosophy as a turf where the race of participants matters little, but Caputo says that’s entirely untrue. In fact, race is of central importance, and it’s proven by the mundane phrases philosophers use.
“‘White’ is of the utmost relevance to philosophy, and postmodern theory helps us to see why,” Caputo says in the interview. “I was once criticized for using the expression ‘true north.’It reflected my Nordo-centrism, my critic said, and my insensitivity to people who live in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, no such thing had ever crossed my mind, but that points to the problem. We tend to say ‘we’ and to assume who ‘we’ are, which once simply meant ‘we white male Euro-Christians.’
Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water — reason is what differentiates us from stone age people and blessed us with the longest, healthiest, most productive lives in the history of the world. But because it’s from white males, it’s bad.