Hi all! Some of you have been wondering what the status is of a potential guest post over at Daily Nous. Well, here’s an update. It’s in two parts. The first part is the actual update. The second part is a position statement I sent to @DailyNousEditor where I articulate what I perceive to be some potential perils for the Bourgeois Philosophy project of having a guest post at Daily Nous. I’m reproducing it here because it gives some insight into the purpose and goals of the project and of the critique of bourgeois philosophy, things that can be misunderstood by those being confronted with the critique of bourgeois philosophy for the first time.
Part I: The Update
If you recall, @DailyNousEditor suggested the possibility of a guest post at Daily Nous. After a brief back-and-forth over email, Justin and I have come to an agreement about moving forward with a guest post.
In Part II below I reproduced (unedited -but in article format) a position statement I sent to Justin where I articulate what I perceive to be some potential perils for the Bourgeois Philosophy project of having a guest post at Daily Nous. He kindly acknowledged my concerns and agreed to review a guest post and proceed in accordance to his editorial discretion:
All of this is fine by me ―It means I’ll be drafting a guest post for Daily Nous -I’ve already started actually, but, as always, I’ve been quite busy working on two other longer pieces, one on the idea of “Decolonizing Philosophy” (a bit on which I cover in the position statement below) and one on the reactions and lines of reasoning of bourgeois philosophers when confronted with the non-bourgeois critique of euro-american academic “feminists” coming out in defense of Hilary Clinton.
So, I will be submitting a draft to Daily Nous as soon as possible.
Part II: Position Statement on a Guest Post on Daily Nous
Thank you for your invitation to a guest post at Daily Nous. Here are some of my thoughts about this.
In my writing I am highly critical of what I take to be the social identity reflected in Daily Nous ―but it has nothing to do in particular with Daily Nous. The standpoint is ubiquitous among philosophy blogs and philosophy institutions in the first world. Daily Nous has set a new standard in philosophy blogging and represents an important intra-ideological shift among academic philosophers in the first world ―a shift away from an old boy’s-club style of neo-colonialism, represented by Leiter Reports, and to a more porous style which incorporates the latest views and values of first-world social democracy. The way I understand it, Daily Nous represents the social identity (ideology) of the future of academic philosophy in the first world and that is why the works and authors showcased there feature prominently in the critique of bourgeois philosophy.
What’s the goal of the Critique of Bourgeois Philosophy?
I won’t reproduce here what can easily be referenced on the Bourgeois Philosophy blog, but I will just say that bourgeois philosophy is a way of doing philosophy that promotes the interests of people benefiting from the economic imperialism of countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other capitalist “democracies” in Europe. Because of the inequities of global economics, bourgeois philosophy dominates the practice of philosophy the world over. Its critique involves defining bourgeois philosophy, identifying institutions that promote it, identifying current and historical works of philosophy that exemplify it, and promoting an independent alternative to it. The alternative is doing philosophy in a way that is not idealist, first-world chauvinist, individualist and uncritical of liberalism, which are the defining characteristics of bourgeois philosophy (you can find the definition of these terms on the blog). I take it for granted that doing philosophy in this way is better for achieving the goal of the critique of bourgeois philosophy which is this: to express through philosophical activity the social identity of people who don’t benefit from the current setup of global economics by means of independent institutions that serve their intellectual, cultural and political interests for self-determination, national democracy and freedom from economic imperialism as historically constituted groups. The bourgeois philosophy blog is such a space.
Wait, are you trying to reform or to decolonize philosophy?
Now this is different than, say, the “decolonization” movement, considered “extreme” and “radical” by many, and which you may have heard about, and which has gained some traction among academic philosophers and critical theorists. As I understand it, proponents of decolonization promote individual and collective resistance to “western hegemonies” through contextualized reading of philosophical texts of the canon and those outside of it, and promote pedagogical reform in existing institutions with high hopes for a sea-change within them. From the point of view of the critique of bourgeois philosophy, this and other reform strategies are misguided and consistently fail to secure the expression of the social identity of non-euro-american, non-bourgeois people through philosophy that serves their interests as historically constituted groups.
On the blog I’ve given detailed reasons for why the Bourgeois Philosophy project is non-reformist -so I won’t go into it here, but the main reason is the way institutions and socialization work in the countries from which bourgeois philosophy radiates. What has happened historically with reform strategies isn’t that the cultural (including philosophy) and political interests for self-determination, national democracy and freedom from economic imperialism somehow gain popular support from first world academics and intellectuals or from the mass base of imperialist social democracy. Instead what consistently happens is that people who don’t benefit from the current setup of global economics dilute their standpoint in order to gain concessions and favor from existing institutions (including institutions of bourgeois philosophy) and re-focus their energies on goals consistent with fortifying the existing institutions and barring the advancement of independent institutions -things like “increased representation”, “diverse curriculum”, or making sure that existing institutions and people in power “play fair”. It then comes down to having to decide between sacrificing the free expression of their social identity and being completely alienated in a system that doesn’t serve their interests. Internationally, scholars from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas (the “global south”) carry out superhuman feats of intellect, grit and determination only to be treated and positioned as tokens by their most “progressive” “colleagues” in euro-american settler academia and to be shut down as soon as the expression of their social reality is at odds with the social identity of bourgeois philosophy. This is why the goal of the critique of bourgeois philosophy is not to reform or change institutions of bourgeois philosophy, to change the standpoint of Daily Nous, the opinions of individual bourgeois philosophers that may constitute its readership, or to change the standpoint of any other existing academic philosophy blog, department, professional association, journal, or conference. If that happens, great! ―it’s just not a goal of the critique. The goal is independent power.
So in reflecting on your invitation I’ve tried to answer the question: Can the goal of expressing through philosophical activity the social identity of people who don’t benefit from the current setup of global economics by means of independent institutions that serve their interests be advanced by a guest post on Daily Nous? I think it can for the reason of increasing awareness: philosophically inclined people all over the world arrive at Daily Nous and showcasing the bourgeois philosophy project on such a venue can help to increase awareness of this unique perspective among them. This helps the goals of the critique of bourgeois philosophy because, based on the feedback I’ve received about the bourgeois philosophy project both non-euro american academic philosophers and euro-american allies all over the world ―that it validates, givers voice to, and helps to structure their experience, exposure on Daily Nous can help direct such philosophers to a welcoming place for them. This is what I see as the main benefit of doing a guest post on Daily Nous. Such a benefit may overlap with the democratic interests of Daily Nous ―like sharing of diverse contemporary viewpoints on academic philosophy, so it’s a win-win.
What are the perils non-bourgeois scholars and non-bourgeois institutions face when working with the institutions of western academic philosophy?
But from the point of view of the critique of bourgeois philosophy there are also potential perils the avoidance of which is conditional to my agreeing to having a guest post hosted on Daily Nous.
The first peril is what’s called liquidationism – that’s when the critique of bourgeois philosophy is rendered ineffective by prohibiting it from being carried out either out of courtesy or as payback. This may go without saying, but I insist on making it clear. So, in my understanding, a guest post on Daily Nous neither prohibits, now nor in the future, criticism of what I understand as the standpoint of bourgeois philosophy, including as reflected in Daily Nous.
The second peril is reformism ―that’s when the critique of bourgeois philosophy collapses to promoting the idea that reforming liberal institutions through increased oversight and accountability is a viable method, generally, for achieving the types of changes required for expressing, through philosophical activity, the social identity of people who don’t benefit from the current setup of global economics. This, of course, clashes with the goals of the critique of bourgeois philosophy, so no matter what, a guest post on Daily Nous should make crystal clear to even the least educated readers, that the critique of bourgeois philosophy is non-reformist.
The third peril is tailing ―this is when the critique of bourgeois philosophy is not carried out from a position of leadership, thus opening it to unfavorable perceptions, not among bourgeois philosophers whose perceptions I take to be unfavorable from the get go, but before the people whose interests the critique of bourgeois philosophy is intended to serve and their allies. The motivation to avoid tailing is simply this: Because of the inequities of global economics, the bourgeois liberal social identity underpinning bourgeois philosophy enjoys the benefit of overwhelming institutional and social reinforcement rendering it a titanic force influencing public opinion about everything, including philosophical activity. Tailing in this context works against the stated goal of the critique of bourgeois philosophy which is to build independent institutions in the service of a particular class of people to counter to the overwhelming influence of the dominant ideology. So, it makes sense for the critique of bourgeois philosophy to maintain autonomy and control over how exposure is positioned. So, in order to avoid tailing it might be best for a guest post at Daily Nous to be a dual post, something publishable on the Bourgeois Philosophy blog, and for me to agree to a policy, stated in in the intro, of replying to hostile and other comments generated from the Daily Nous readership and approved by you, if any, at the Bourgeois Philosophy blog, that way the critique of bourgeois philosophy preserves autonomy and can selectively engage on friendly ground. I will, of course, comment at Daily Nous in accordance to your policy in reply to comments that I take to be moving the discussion forward, and constructively engaging the goals of the bourgeois philosophy project.
If this is agreeable to you, then I’d love to accept your invitation and move forward with a guest post on Daily Nous ―but it wouldn’t be about “what is wrong with Daily Nous” because I think that misses the generality of the critique of bourgeois philosophy and makes it seem as if reform is a central issue. Instead I’d rather just give a short post introducing the Bourgeois Philosophy project, with definitions, and an example showcasing the difference between bourgeois and non-bourgeois philosophy ―maybe on diversity, job market, public philosophy, or whatever you think your readers might like, or just pure philosophy -not “issues in the profession”, but something like first vs. second philosophy, effective altruism, and some goals/open problems if that is OK with you.
Thanks for reading me. Let me know what you think.