On SOAS students’ demand to diversity curriculum

Stella Sandford.


Philosophy and philosophers rarely make it into the mainstream news in the UK. But in January 2017 Plato and Kant hit the headlines. “They Kant be Serious! PC students demand white philosophers including Plato and Descartes be dropped from university syllabus”, shouted the MailOnline; “Newsnight guest DEFENDS calls to ban Plato and Kant because the Enlightenment is ‘racist’”, spluttered The Sunday Express. The Sun upped the ante by adding a few more names to the list: “Barmy SOAS students try to ban classical philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Voltaire from their courses … because they are white”. These figures, along with the likes of Bertrand Russell are, according to The Mail (which The Telegraph’s Education Editor then apparently copied), among the “titans of philosophy” whose names “underpin civilisation”. On the day on which I looked at this The Sunday Express online article appears under a banner of sex videos including “Mila Kunis stripped bare …”, “Katherine Heigl stripped bare …” It isn’t stated whether this is the kind of “civilisation” which Kant et al underpin.

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