While ignorance, or at least a lack of clear and distinct experience, does not seem to have stopped our predecessors from philosophizing about all manner of things from matter to immortal souls, in the latter half of the twentieth century North American philosophers became increasingly timid about advancing propositions based primarily not on logic informed by material evidence but on intuition, creative imagination, and passionate desire. By the 1960s our generation's teachers and mentors, perhaps battered by the McCarthy years or humbled by the dazzling successes of their colleagues in the "hard" sciences, had redrawn the disciplinary boundaries tightly enough to make almost any speculative work fall outside the realm of legitimate philosophy and into the realm ofliberal politics or sociology (read: soft-headed nonsense) or that of literature (read: girl stuff). In this way they sought to purify and legitimate the discipline. Even still, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, North American continentalists labor under and around these intellectual and institutional (and highly gender-coded) dividing practices and defensive barriers; much of our work is still considered by about 90 percent of our Anglo-American philosophical contemporaries to be irrational poeticizing or manipulative politicizing. And of course in most circles our masculinity is still in serious doubt.
Copyright © 2010, Pennsylvania State University Press. This chapter first appeared in On Race and Racism in America: Confessions in Philosophy.
Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.
Purchase online at Pennsylvania State University Press.
McWhorter, Ladelle. "Racism and Biopower." In On Race and Racism in America: Confessions in Philosophy, edited by Roy Martinez, 55-85. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.