respond to peer
Having read a lot more philosophy than the authors discussed in our textbook, I can say that there were and are a lot of philosophers who were/are not white males. Their work is available, but, as they say, whoever writes the history determines how history is read. Until recently, most book editors and college professors were white males, and they were the ones determining what was read and taught. So, the omission of the not “dead, white, European males” was caused by the white males making the decisions about which philosophers were being emphasized. As more women and minorities find their place in society, more women and minority philosophers are magically being “discovered” (many of whom were writing as far back as Socrates–who was taught much of his own philosophy by a woman named Diotima). When I was working on my PhD, there was one female grad student for every eight males, one minority grad student (generally Asian or Latino) for every 17 white students, one Black student (generally female) for every 23 white students, and one female (“me”) and even less minorities in 35 who specialized in Medieval philosophy. So, I think it is the culture, and as society changes, so will the emphasis on which philosophers are included.
I think everyone’s brain is wired the same way, but what we think about determines how different cultures and races reach different conclusions. For example, besides having been to China a few times, I’ve also taught Asian philosophy quite a bit, and there is a great difference in Eastern and Western Logic. Since all Logic depends on “true” premises in order to reach a conclusion, the difference between the East and West is how “truth” is determined. In the West, we want empirical verification to demonstrate that something is “true”; in the East, personal experiences and “what grandpa told me” provides the basis for “truth,” because of the emphasis that Asians place on ancestral relationships and relationships in general.
Without going into specifics about Logic, I can use an example of a cultural difference that might give you an idea about why the East and West does not completely reach the same conclusions, even with the same information. When we nod our heads up and down, we generally mean “yes” or the affirmative. When a Chinese person nods, it does not mean that they agree with you or are committing to do something; their nod simply means “I understand” or “I hear you.” For an American, we think they are agreeing and then are surprised when they don’t do what we thought they had agreed to do. But, the only thing that the nod meant was that they were politely listening. Our conclusion was wrong based on our assumption, but the thinking process itself is the same.
I thought the most interesting thing was that the concept of ying-yang did not appear at all when discussing Eastern philosophy. The reason that is interesting is because it is actually very difficult to discuss the Taoist conception of “the way” without mentioning the cyclical balancing of nature. So, it is very interesting to me that it was omitted. 🙂
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