How is This Course Intro to Philosophy?

Introduction to Philosophy

Thankfully, my department and university give us much latitude to teach introduction to philosophy the way that each of us wants. In recent iterations, I have been teaching a course themed on language, knowledge, and power. (Detailed reading list from Fall 2017 in the graphic below or in this pdf.)

The Pipeline Problem

One place to contextualize my anecdata is philosophy’s “pipeline problem”, which concerns the attrition of members of marginalized groups at different educational stages. (See Morgan Thompson’s overview of the gender gap literature; and — very incomplete list — Calhoun (2009); Botts et al (2014); Lee (2014); Baron et al (2015); Leslie et al (2015); Thompson et al (2016); Lockard et al (2017). And Lionel McPherson’s and Shelley Tremain’s criticism of the “pipeline problem” framing.)

Diversifying the Canon

Another place to contextualize my anecdata is amongst the recent efforts to pluralize philosophy syllabuses and canon. (See Anderson and Erlenbusch (2017); and—very incomplete list—American Society of Aesthetics’s Diversity Curriculum Grants; Diversifying Syllabi; Diversity Reading List; Readings on Less Commonly Taught Philosophies; and The Deviant Philosopher.)

Language, Knowledge, and Power

To be clear, this post is not about criticizing students for their pre-conception of philosophy. Their responses are, to me, completely understandable, in the social context that we live in. But what’s the best way forward?



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Academic studying objects and spaces where cognition meets oppression. Taiwanese.