Book on Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon

Thanks to RM and SW for posting about this elsewhere!


There’s a recent book out entitled,Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830” by Peter Park.  (link to Amazon US)

Has anyone read it yet or have any thoughts? I’m considering getting it for winter break reading – though I’m somewhat baffled as to why the Kindle version is $64 (£39, €46) when then paperback is $25. (£15, €18)


Here is the summary from the SUNY Press page:

A historical investigation of the exclusion of Africa and Asia from modern histories of philosophy.

In this provocative historiography, Peter K. J. Park provides a penetrating account of a crucial period in the development of philosophy as an academic discipline. During these decades, a number of European philosophers influenced by Immanuel Kant began to formulate the history of philosophy as a march of progress from the Greeks to Kant—a genealogy that supplanted existing accounts beginning in Egypt or Western Asia and at a time when European interest in Sanskrit and Persian literature was flourishing. Not without debate, these traditions were ultimately deemed outside the scope of philosophy and relegated to the study of religion. Park uncovers this debate and recounts the development of an exclusionary canon of philosophy in the decades of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. To what extent was this exclusion of Africa and Asia a result of the scientization of philosophy? To what extent was it a result of racism?

This book includes the most extensive description available anywhere of Joseph-Marie de Gérando’s Histoire comparée des systèmes de philosophie, Friedrich Schlegel’s lectures on the history of philosophy, Friedrich Ast’s and Thaddä Anselm Rixner’s systematic integration of Africa and Asia into the history of philosophy, and the controversy between G. W. F. Hegel and the theologian August Tholuck over “pantheism.”

“Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy is a welcome addition to a neglected area in the history of ideas. Philosophy has long suffered from exclusions that keep us from fully appreciating the contributions to our field from Africa and Asia. Park’s book uncovers some of the sources of philosophy’s exclusionary practices. The historical detail is impressive.” — Elizabeth Millán, author of Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy

One thought on “Book on Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon

  1. Kindle book prices for non-fiction can be horrendous. I think we could understand it if we could see inside the mind of the people picking the prices, but that seems just not worth the trouble.

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