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December 29, 2016 / compassioninpolitics

Philosophy of Liberation/Voices at the Bottom of the Well-Perspective/Epistemology/Framework

Kellner No Date (Douglas Kellner is the George Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Critical Theory, Poststructuralism, and the Philosophy of Liberation” Undated)

This passage strikes me as providing a useful opening to discuss the relationship between modern Western philosophy and the new Philosophy of Liberation which has emerged above all from Latin America. One of the insights of the Philosophy of Liberation is that Western Philosophy is the philosophy of the center, of the metropoles, of white European males. Its concepts, problems, and problematics are identified with philosophy itself and other perspectives, other positions, are condemned to the margins (Dussel, pp. ). On this view, Western Philosophy is the philosophy of the masters of the world, of the dominant countries, cultures, and class. Is the Philosophy of Liberation, then, — pursuing Hegel’s master-slave metaphor –the philosophy of slaves, of the dominated, of the oppressed and if so what particular insights does this perspective reveal that is lost to western philosophy? Perspectivialism itself emerges as one particular insight open to the oppressed, to the Philosophy of Liberation. The oppressed have at least the possibility of coming to know that the views of the masters rationalize and serve their interests of domination, that dominant philosophical positions are those of a particular class with its interests, specific perspectives, and limitations. In short, the oppressed know that dominant ideas, the ideas of the ruling class, the dominant ideas of a culture, Western Philosophy, are ideology. In this way, the oppressed and the Philosophy of Liberation gain critical perspectives on the thought of the center, on the master discourses of the West, that may not be accessible to those of the center — or which are accessible only with great difficulty (i.e. Marx came to formulate the concept of ideology and Nietzsche developed a perspectival philosophy). Secondly, the Philosophy of Liberation argues that Western Philosophy is idealist and subjectivist, is the articulation of a region and a class which wants to idealize its system of domination, which wants to denigrate and occlude material needs, suffering, oppression, and is thus not sufficiently or correctly materialist. The Philosophy of Liberation suggests that Western Philosophy is the philosophy of a dominating subjectivity, of a subjectivity that wants to dominate nature, other people, and in its more extreme versions the totality of being itself. Once again, the situational perspectives of the PL allows them to gain powerful insights into the idealism and subjectivism of WP. When one experiences oppression and material deprivation one more easily grasps the importance of material needs, of the material dimension, and can more easily detect the rationalizing, idealizing, and ideological functions of idealist discourse. When one is reduced to an object of DD one can more easily grasp the dialectics of subjectification and perceive the dynamics of dominating subjectivity which might help produce critical opposition to the PP of subjectivity itself as an imperialist attempt of the subject to dominate the world.


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