Problems of philosophy

Re: “The patriarchy of philosophy” | Commentary | November 23

What is, to me, the problem in philosophy is not its lack of Continental philosophy or the idea that it “has no real world import.” Gold has a point that philosophers seem exceptionally arrogant – maybe this is the point. It’s not that all philosophers are arrogant. I think it’s that many feel the need to be arrogant about their area of study because it’s almost as if studying philosophy requires justification and this justification has to be more than “because I like it.” To many, there’s something “arrogant and self-righteous” about studying philosophy. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Personally, I can’t make any claims about why women don’t study or teach philosophy, and it was respectable that Gold didn’t make any real claims about this either. But she seemed to have dodged the idea that what draws people (all people) away from philosophy is its branding and the stigma that goes with it. Are all philosophy students arrogant, and in discussing our study of choice, do we really have to be self-deprecating?
Maybe, if our goal is to bring everyone – including women, minorities, and transgendered people – into the discourse, we should be avoiding the arrogant and self-deprecating talk that Gold exercises. And if that’s not one of its goals, then maybe we should look at it as a study confined to the privileged and the exclusive. And if that’s the case, then I’d be afraid to call philosophy my study of choice.

Aaron Vansintjan
U2 Philosophy and Environment
Former Daily editor