on the enlightenment
January 11, 2014
so most ppl know by now that i”m fairly knowledgeable when it comes to white philosophy. not the most knowledgeable because I know more about various ppl”s logical views than most other things. but still.
medievalpoc”s recent-ish posts on the racism and anti-Blackness of enlightenment thinkers has me thinking about all of this because the ideologies of enlightenment philosophers like hume, kant, and locke (amongst others) literally underpin the modern world.
they are present in all of the institutions. they are global because of imperialism, colonialism, and settler colonialism. they essentially frame every discussion and discourse we care to have about economics, society, science, governance, ethics, etc and so on.
and i know that i”ve definitely been accused of the fallacy of composition for rejecting the enlightenment”s value of ‘rationality,” since obviously the fact that these white men were foaming-at-the-mouth white supremacists, shouldn”t have an impact on how we assess the whole of their philosophy and contributions to the world.
I mean… look at all the riches and wonders the enlightenment has brought us (wat do u mean it was built with slave labour???)! The white man has tamed the savage lands of the americas (lol, wat do u mean there were ppl here before???)! The white man has brought so many of ~god”s~ children into the fold! The white man has civilized and brought democracy and freedom and equality to the world!!11!!!!!!!
It boggles my mind that people can note at least some of the structural inequalities and oppressions that are currently working today, but still think that enlightenment values and ethics are totes the way to go. That if society would just truly live and embody these values, all this oppression would melt away. Instead of realizing that, wouldn”t you know, enlightenment values and ethics depend on a definition of ‘human” that really only applies to white men (and sometimes white women).
On this continuum, we can see that for all the shifting and hand waving, much of what was true of enlightenment values three hundred or so years ago, is true of today: white people are the only human beings and all the enlightenment notions of ‘freedom” ‘rational thought” ‘science” apply to them and them only.
That rather than being an ideology capable of changing based on its alleged commitment to rationality and empiricism, it is just another hegemonic discourse designed to oppress.
And even if the above is false, after hundreds of years, I think we can call enlightenment a failed expirement.
Since, despite a theoretical commitment to ‘freedom,” white settlers are still squating on lands that don”t belong to them.
White in the usa are still enslaving Black ppl via the prison industrial complex (on top of ensuring that the legacy of slavery continues to traumatize those alive today).
White ppl (and some poc cronies) are still developing and working on scientific racism (as well as scientific misogyny, transmisogyny, ableism, etc etc etc).
White ppl still adhere to a notion of ‘rationality” based on empirically false assumptions about the way the brain works and reasons.
White ppl have made science into a faith-based activity.
the enlightenment is a total and complete failure.</p>