On Radical Philosophy

2012.09.12

‘The universalizing pretensions of Western philosophy, which by its very abstractness and distance from vulgar reality seemed to be all-inclusive of human experience, are thereby shown to be illusory.

 

White (male) philosophy’s confrontation of Man and Universe, or even Person and Universe, is really predicated on taking personhood for granted and thus excludes the differential experience of those who have ceaselessly had to fight to have their personhood recognized in the first place.

 

Without even recognizing that it is doing so, Western philosophy abstracts away from what has been the central feature of the lives of Africans transported against their will to the Americas: the denial of black humanity and the reactive, defiant assertion of it.

 

Secure in the uncontested sum of the leisurely Cartesian derivation, whites find it hard to understand the metaphysical rage and urgency permeating the non-Cartesian sums of those invisible native sons and daughters who, since nobody knows their name, have to be the men who cry “I am!” and the women who demand “And ain’t I a woman?”

 

From the beginning, therefore, the problems faced by those categorized as persons and those categorized as subpersons will be radically different.

 

One can no longer speak with quite such assurance of the problems of philosophy; rather, these are the problems for particular groups of human beings, and for others there will be different kinds of problems that are far more urgent.

 

A relativizing of the discipline’s traditional hierachies of importance and centrality thuse becomes necessary.’

 

– Charles W. Mills, Excerpt from Blackness Visible

 

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