American Philosophical Asociation: Rejecting the Superiorism of Western Philosophy


Monday, November 28, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm



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Western thought, most notably since the beginning of the Enlightenment, has been permeated by the sense that it is the standard-bearer of thought. With an unprecedented violence, Western philosophy asserted itself as the one right way to peace, prosperity and happiness for all human beings. Within the framework of philosophy, thousands of years of contributions beyond the so-called western traditions have been largely ignored. If we look closely at many of the important thinkers of the Enlightenment, such as Hume, Kant, Fichte, Hegel or Voltaire, we find vile testimonies of racism or sexism, of, in a word: superiorisms. Superiorist thinking asserts itself above the other and makes itself decisive for the other. The superiorisms of the Enlightenment resulted in the fact that a multiplicity of human beings were and continue to be excluded from the project of the Enlightenment, even if this is rarely acknowledged explicitly. The persistent claim of the Enlightenment thinkers to address the needs of all human beings seems in sharp contradiction with, for instance, the exclusion of non-white people from the Enlightenment. It seems even until the present day it is not clear how this could happen. In this event, panelists will discuss this problem and provide ideas on how to go forward. 

The panelists for the webinar are as follows:
  • Elvis Imafidon, Lecturer, School of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS (School of Oriental & African Studies), University of London, UK
  • Siseko Kumalo, Fellow, Centre for African Studies, Harvard University; Lecturer, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
  • Mpho Tshivhase, Senior Lecturer, University of Pretoria, Philosophy Department, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Bryan W. Van Norden, James Monroe Taylor Chair in Philosophy, Vassar College, USA
  • Björn Freter (facilitator), Lecturer, School of History, Religions and Philosophies, SOAS (School of Oriental & African Studies), University of London, UK

The event will be held on Monday, November 28, 2022 at 12 noon Eastern time / 9 a.m. Pacific time. To participate, click the "Register" button above. Registration will be available until 10 a.m. Eastern time / 7 a.m. Pacific time on the day of the webinar, and access information will be provided to registrants at least one hour prior to the start of the webinar. Registration is limited to current APA members.

Space is limited, so register now! If you’re unable to attend the live event, a recording will be made available in the APA On Demand Video Library afterward.