Research Article

Problematising Western philosophy as one part of Africanising the curriculum

DOI: 10.1080/02580136.2016.1247247
Author(s): Lucy AllaisPhilosophy Department, United States


This paper argues that one part of the picture of thinking about decolonising the philosophy curriculum should include problematising the notion of Western philosophy. I argue that there are many problems with the idea of Western philosophy, and with the idea that decolonising the curriculum should involve rejecting so-called Western philosophy. Doing this could include granting the West a false narrative about its origins, influences and interactions, perpetuating exclusions within contemporary and recent North American and European philosophy, perpetuating exclusions and failed acknowledgements within the history of so-called Western philosophy, while at the same time rejecting a tradition which has included in itself so many topics and methodologies that what is left after excluding it would leave other traditions with limited resources, at the same time as wrongly granting the West proprietary rights over any ideas it has happened to investigate, rather than seeing these as belonging to all of humanity. I therefore conclude that a central part of curriculum change should be problematising Western philosophy, including our learning more about, and teaching, more complex views of its history and interactions with other traditions.

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