Western philosophy is racist

Leibniz, Wolff and Quesnay are illustrations of what was once a common view in European philosophy. In fact, as Peter K.J. Park notes in “Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon” (2014), the only options taken seriously by most scholars in the 18th century were that philosophy began in India, that philosophy began in Africa, or that both India and Africa gave philosophy to Greece. So why did things change? As Park convincingly argues, Africa and Asia were excluded from the philosophical canon by the confluence of two interrelated factors. On the one hand, defenders of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) consciously rewrote the history of philosophy to make it appear that his critical idealism was the culmination toward which all earlier philosophy was groping, more or less successfully. On the other hand, European intellectuals increasingly accepted and systematised views of white racial superiority that entailed that no non-Caucasian group could develop philosophy. (Even St Augustine, who was born in northern Africa, is typically depicted in European art as a pasty white guy.) So the exclusion of non-European philosophy from the canon was a decision, not something that people have always believed, and it was a decision based not on a reasoned argument, but rather on polemical considerations involving the pro-Kantian faction in European philosophy, as well as views about race that are both scientifically unsound and morally heinous. Kant himself was notoriously racist. He treated race as a scientific category (which it is not), correlated it with the ability for abstract thought, and – theorising on the destiny of races in lectures to students – arranged them in a hierarchical order.

Bryan W Van Norden in Western philosophy is racist (Aeon)