Academic Philosophy and the Pursuit of Genuine Dialogue: Embracing Radical Friction

Journal of Speculative Philosophy 32 (1):92-111 (2018)


ABSTRACT Academic philosophy's lack of diversity is of concern because it results in a discipline that does not adequately reflect or address the experiences, concerns, and perspectives of many people outside of the dominant demographic. In this article, I examine some of the practical and psychological challenges of entering into dialogue with thinkers whose background knowledge, culture, life experiences, and/or methodologies generate philosophical thought that is radically different from one's own. I contend that in order to build a discipline that is more genuinely dialogical, academic philosophers should embrace this challenging tension between incommensurable worlds of sense. Specifically, I consider how the philosophical practice of translating foreign concepts into terms that have meaning for us might be carried out in a way that preserves radical friction. I warn of the risk of projecting our ideas onto those whose worldviews are incompatible with our own, and I offer strategies for navigating this risk.

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