The purpose of education is to teach people how to learn. If successful, a proper education will instill critical thinking, rational thought, and above all, a thirst for knowledge that will last an entire lifetime. The only way we can progress and grow throughout our lives is to constantly learn. Wisdom is the sum of a lifetime of learning, and a philosopher is a lover of wisdom.
The formal study of philosophy usually begins with epistemology, which is the branch of philosophy that examines the nature of knowledge. It attempts to answer questions such as: What is knowledge? And how do we acquire it?
Epistemology is broadly divided into two categories: rationalism and empiricism. The rationalists believe we are born with an innate ability to reason and that reason is the main source of knowledge. Rationalists include Plato (429–327 BC; Greece) and René Descartes (1596–1650; France).
Empiricism states that we have no innate abilities or knowledge, but instead gain knowledge by learning through our experience of the world outside us. The information we gather comes from our five senses. Empiricists include Aristotle (384–322 BC; Greece), David Hume (1711–1776; Scotland) and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804; Prussia).
Students of philosophy still study Plato. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about Plato:
Plato is, by any reckoning, one of the most dazzling writers in the Western literary tradition and one of the most penetrating, wide-ranging, and influential authors in the history of philosophy. An Athenian citizen of high status, he displays in his works his absorption in the political events and intellectual movements of his time, but the questions he raises are so profound and the strategies he uses for tackling them so richly suggestive and provocative that educated readers of nearly every period have in some way been influenced by him, and in practically every age there have been philosophers who count themselves Platonists in some important respects. He was not the first thinker or writer to whom the word “philosopher” should be applied. But he was so self-conscious about how philosophy should be conceived, and what its scope and ambitions properly are, and he so transformed the intellectual currents with which he grappled, that the subject of philosophy, as it is often conceived—a rigorous and systematic examination of ethical, political, metaphysical, and epistemological issues, armed with a distinctive method—can be called his invention. Few other authors in the history of Western philosophy approximate him in depth and range: perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas, and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank.
Clearly, Plato is the seminal figure in philosophy. It stands to reason that his work is the starting point for most students of philosophy. So imagine my alarm when I came across this article in the news last week:
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) student union at the University of London is demanding that philosophers Plato, Descartes, and Kant should be—mostly—supplanted by those from Asia and Africa.
According to The Independent, part of the union’s new year priorities is to “address the structural and epistemological legacy of colonialism within our university.”
“If white philosophers were required,” one of the union’s goals reads, “their work should be taught from a ‘critical standpoint’, to acknowledge the colonial context in which many of their works were written.”
The group Black British Academics’ Deborah Gabriel said “Teaching is often based on very narrow criteria and often tends to be Eurocentric. These students are calling on scholars to meet the criteria of their role to teach from different cultural contexts, it’s something we all should be doing more of.”
Ms. Gabriel is concerned that teaching at the university “tends to be Eurocentric”. The first university in the world was the University of Bologna, established in Italy in 1088. Is Ms. Gabriel aware that Italy is in Europe? Is she aware that the university is a European institution, created by Europeans for Europeans?
If we go even further back, one of the earliest institutions of higher learning was Plato’s school of philosophy, founded in 385 BC at Akademia in Athens. This is where the word “academy” comes from, which is defined as an institution of secondary education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership.
If Ms. Gabriel is unhappy with the university or its curriculum, she is free to educate herself in some other way, somewhere else. Yet, she insists that university must change to meet her demands. Complaining about Eurocentrism at a European institution of higher learning in an area of study established by a European is the height of ignorance and arrogance. Notable British academics agree:
Philosopher Sir Roger Scruton responded to the union’s demands saying “This suggests ignorance and a determination not to overcome that ignorance. You can’t rule out a whole area of intellectual endeavor without having investigated it and clearly they haven’t investigated what they mean by white philosophy.”
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University added “There is a real danger political correctness is getting out of control. We need to understand the world as it was and not to rewrite history as some might like it to have been.”
That second quote gets to the heart of the matter and illustrates just exactly what is going on here—historical revisionism, aimed not at correcting errors, but at establishing an entirely false narrative.
In an article titled “Faking History to Make the Black Kids Feel Good,” Ilana Mercer notes:
In a video that gets considerable play on TV, Rev. Al Sharpton informs a rapt audience that “white folks” were cave dwellers when blacks were building empires and pyramids; teaching philosophy, astrology and mathematics. “Socrates and them Greek homos” were mere copycats, aping black civilization.
As revealed in “Helping The Sharpton and Obama Afrocentrism ‘Fade to Black,’” this mythistory has a presence in America’s schools, tertiary and secondary.
By now we know that mass media and government under both national parties routinely generate fake news to achieve political ends. That our progressive pedagogues propagandize the youth: That’s well-known and passively accepted, too. Less known is the extent to which fabricated history has been incorporated into curricula.
In “Black Athena,” Martin Gardiner Bernal of Cambridge, England, suggested that “Ancient Greece” had been “fabricated,” and that chroniclers of “classical civilization” had concealed its “Afroasiatic roots.”
Ditto historian George G. M. James, whose “Stolen Legacy: The Egyptian Origins of Western Philosophy” claims that a rather large chunk of ancient civilization is fraudulent. The Greeks stole it from the Egyptians. The Egyptians were as black as Al Sharpton and Idi Amin.
The school tracts known as the “Portland African-American Baseline Essays” are another counterfactual abomination to have percolated into America’s anti-intellectual schooling system.
The Science Baseline Essay, in particular, claims that thousands of years ago, Egyptians-cum-blacks “flew in electroplated gold gliders, knew accurately the distance to the sun, and discovered the Theory of Evolution.”
According to Afrocentric academic Cheikh Anta Diop—a Senegalese with considerable celebrity in the US—Africans invented everything from Judaism, to engineering, to astronomy, including dialectical materialism (apparently Marxism is cause for inventor’s pride).
It’s easy to dismiss this mythistory as too ridiculous to swallow. However, mythical thinking thrives in a culture that eschews objective truth: ours.
Where once there was an understanding that a reality independent of the human observer exists; students are now taught that truth is a social construction, a function of the power and position—or lack thereof—of persons or groups in society.
Casting fact and objective truth as no more than a perspective is a handy bit of egalitarianism: If nothing is immutably true, then all positions are but a matter of preference and can claim equal validity. This vortex is the scaffolding for Afrocentric pseudohistory; the American academy its perfect foil.
The article ends with this thought-provoking conclusion:
Afrocentrists, moreover, look especially dimwitted in their incongruous claims, considering that, on the one hand, they blame the Great White and his wicked, linear thinking for practically every reprehensible event in history. On the other, they lay claim to his civilization.
If Eurocentric culture is so horrible, why would these fake historians want to claim it as their own? By coveting it, aren’t Afrocentrists providing the ultimate validation of Western Civilization?
This is typical of the contradictions rife within the idiotic SJW and BLM ranting. We are told that Whiteness is a construct, that Whites do not have a culture. Yet Whiteness is oppressive, evil and at the root of everything that is wrong in the world. Whites have privilege, even those who live in the poorest counties in the U.S., which are in fact overwhelmingly White.
If Europeans stole knowledge and technology from Africa and claimed it as their own, why is there no evidence of these things in Africa today? After all, if you steal my recipe for apple pie, that doesn’t mean that I will no longer be able to bake an apple pie. The only evidence of high technology we see in Africa are the pyramids in Egypt. Putting aside for a moment the fact that pyramids have been found all over the world, despite what Ms. Gabriel may claim, all peoples on the African continent are not the same. See for yourself:
Ms. Gabriel (sub-Saharan African) Egyptian woman (North African)
Which one looks more African to you?
We see revisionism and appropriation all around us, from the new $100 gold coin featuring a Black woman as Lady Liberty, to the film Hidden Figures, which is almost totally made up. At the same time, White men are being removed from the $20 bill and statues of White men are being torn down at Confederate monuments. Our past is being erased and rewritten, and we are no longer part of it.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot name a single Asian or African philosopher. And I wonder what purpose philosophy will even serve when its leading figures and core concepts are removed from the curriculum altogether. Rather than teaching students how to learn, modern education is teaching them how to deconstruct, delegitimize and deny truth and facts, which are presented simply as a construct. The thirst for knowledge is being replaced by White guilt, shame and hate.
In this anti-intellectual climate, how can students grow and progress on the path toward wisdom when everything they know will be wrong?