“Why I Left Academia: Philosophy’s Homogeneity Needs Rethinking”

Article by Eugene Sun Park (now a filmmaker) on why he left philosophy. 

 

“The pressure to accept and conform to a narrow conception of philosophy was pervasive. […] While much of the rest of the academy has evolved to reflect these demographic changes, philosophy remains mired in a narrow conception of the discipline that threatens to marginalize philosophy even further. […]  I loved studying philosophy, and truly have no regrets about devoting nearly a decade of my life to it. But I also grew tired and frustrated with the profession’s unwillingness to interrogate itself. Eventually, I gave up hope that the discipline would ever change, or that it would change substantially within a timeframe that was useful to me professionally and personally.”

 

“It’s not that women and minorities are (inexplicably) less interested in the “problems of philosophy”—it’s that women and minorities have not had their fair say in defining what the problems of philosophy are, or what counts as philosophy in the first place.”

2 thoughts on ““Why I Left Academia: Philosophy’s Homogeneity Needs Rethinking”

  1. Here’s an extensive quote that I found very well written and an extremely accurate description of what I’ve seen and heard reported over and and over and over and over:

    “In my own department, I tried to stimulate discussion about what could be done to increase diversity. The faculty and my fellow graduate students were, to their credit, perfectly happy to have more women and minorities in the department. In fact, many spoke openly about their desire to see a more diverse department. This desire, however, seemed to be a desire mostly for a cosmetic change in the look of the department. When it came to making changes that might bring about a much deeper sense of diversity—i.e., changes in the culture and intellectual environment—there was less accommodation. In attempts to open up a discussion about diversity, I found myself repeatedly confounded by ignorance and, at times, thinly veiled racism. To various faculty, I suggested the possibility of hiring someone who, say, specializes in Chinese philosophy or feminist philosophy or the philosophy of race. I complained about the Eurocentric nature of undergraduate and graduate curricula. Without exception, my comments and suggestions were met with the same rationalizations for why philosophy is the way it is and why it should remain that way. To paraphrase one member of my department, “This is the intellectual tradition we work in. Take it or leave it.””

    There’s been progress, in the sense that a lot of people have recognized that demographic diversity is desirable, but I do fear that many philosophers are more interested in tokenism than in the sorts of deeper rethinking of the curriculum that this author calls for, and the deep rethinking of climate issues that feminists have called for.

  2. Philosophy departments will gradually die out In all but the biggest and richest schools as fewer undergraduates decide not to waste their tuition money on philosophy classes. As the environment changes organisms must adapt or die.

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