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The Myth of 'Western Philosophy' - SEMINAR

The Paulo Freire Project of the School of Education is delighted to host Dr Josh Platzky-Miller on PMB campus next week (see below for seminar details). Dr Miller is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of the Free State. Previously, he was an NIHSS Postdoctoral Fellow (UKZN), and an Affiliated Lecturer in Politics and Development Studies (University of Cambridge). Josh primarily works with social movements, African and Latin American politics and political thought, critical pedagogy, and the global history and historiography of philosophy. Josh is currently co-authoring a book (The Myth of ‘Western Philosophy’, with Lea Cantor) and has published in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy; Globalisation, Societies and Education; Social Movement Studies; and Development and Change, amongst others.


 The Myth of ‘Western Philosophy’ and its Implications for Thinking Today

The idea of ‘Western Philosophy’ is little more than a legitimation project for European colonialism through to post-second world war Pan-European identity formation and white supremacist projects. Thus argues Ben Kies (1917-1979), a South African public intellectual, schoolteacher, trade unionist, and activist-theorist. In his 1953 address to the Teachers’ League of South Africa, The Contribution of the Non-European Peoples to World Civilisation, Kies became perhaps the first person to argue explicitly that there is no such thing as ‘Western Philosophy’. Drawing on Kies’ Contribution and contemporary scholarship in the history of philosophy, I argue that the idea of a distinctive, hermetically sealed ‘Western Philosophy’ is a recent fabrication, and that entanglements between philosophical ‘traditions’ have in fact been the norm for millennia. Indeed, as even the idea of 'Western Philosophy' is the product of distorted colonial theories and historiography, we should dispense with the idea that there is a pure, self-generated, and continuous ‘Western Tradition’ of philosophy. Instead, we should look towards entangled histories of philosophy to make sense of philosophy and its history today. I conclude by arguing that abandoning the idea of ‘Western Philosophy’ opens new space for thinking across disciplines today.

DATE: Wednesday 10th July 2024

TIME: 2.30 - 4pm

VENUE: Room 43, Education Building, Golf Road campus, Pietermaritzburg 

 The seminar will be co-hosted with local NGO, Church Land Programme. All staff and students welcome.
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Posted 08 July 2024
By Anne Harley
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