Fascinating interview. A couple of high points for me…
Despite being someone who wants to explore potentially specific problems in philosophy. I think there’s a lot of truth in this:
I honestly think claims that there is something intrinsic to the discipline that means it attracts a particular type of person (who tends to be male and white and wealthy) is weak tea. Philosophy has a problem, but it has a problem because the world is a shitty place, and the most comfortable and interesting jobs tend to be populated by the most privileged. As much as people complain about academia, it’s a pretty cushy gig. Why are there so few black academics? Because for the most part, society is racist. Why do we struggle to get gender equality? Because for the most part, society is sexist. Why are working class people underrepresented in academia? Because for the most part society makes it easier for the privileged to succeed. Why are people of disability made invisible in academia? Because for the most part society is ableist. Philosophy may be a particularly troublesome and resistant pocket of that society, but it’s hardly the last or biggest hold out.
I think readers of this blog will be especially interested as well to read Albert’s thoughts on philosophy of race and the importance of definitions with respect to Roma identity, a perspective that is (to put it mildly) not often discussed.
I use a particular approach of saying that careful definition and clarity are important, that these are what analytic philosophers take themselves to be good at, and that they should get involved in this project. I can understand why people might not find that approach useful, especially in the current context in America where there needs to be a real focus on the differences in lived experience between races. From my point of view though, understanding what we can do by getting involved in projects of definition are important and do have a role.
To illustrate, I have a paper included in a collection of articles on the condition of Roma in Europe. The collection “We Roma“, is edited by Daniel Baker and Maria Hlavajova and has contributions from both Roma and Non-Roma. In my paper, I try to make it clear that there are official definitions of Roma groups which are designed to identify us with properties that can be (and are being) removed — its definitional genocide. I argue that we need to be involved in defining ourselves, to own the definitional project, otherwise we, as a group, are doomed in Europe. Given the surge in far right sentiment across Europe I worry that we may already be doomed, but while ever someone else controls whats defines us we can simply be erased by fiat.
Read the whole thing.