Can Non‐Europeans Philosophize? Transnational Literacy and Planetary Ethics in a Global Age

Hypatia 32 (3):488-505 (2017)

Defenders of the Enlightenment highlight the long neglected anticolonial writings of thinkers like Immanuel Kant, which serve as a corrective to the misrepresentation of the Enlightenment's epistemological investment in imperialism. One of the most pervasive repercussions of the claim that the Enlightenment was always already anti-imperial is that postcolonial critique is rendered redundant, and the project of decolonizing European philosophy becomes unnecessary. Contesting the exoneration of Enlightenment philosophers of racism and sexism, this article debunks the claim that Kantian cosmopolitanism was an antidote to colonialism. Addressing the ambivalent legacies of the European Enlightenment for the postcolonial world, with special focus on the “Syrian refugee crisis,” the article examines the enduring normative violence exerted by Enlightenment principles of cosmopolitanism and outlines the contested terrains that inflect current geopolitics of knowledge-production. Given that the normative idea of philosophy, as defined during the Enlightenment, continues to delegitimize non-European perspectives, the integration of previously marginalized knowledges into the philosophical canon is insufficient; rather, in order to desubalternize non-Western epistemologies, it is imperative to undo the uneven distribution of epistemic agency globally. Drawing on Gayatri Spivak's ideas of transnational literacy and planetary ethics, the article concludes by underscoring the contribution of postcolonial-feminist critique in imagining postimperial philosophy in a global age.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/hypa.12333
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 44,340
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Kant's Second Thoughts on Race.Pauline Kleingeld - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):573–592.
Kant's Third Thoughts on Race.Robert Bernasconi - 2011 - In Stuart Elden & Eduardo Mendieta (eds.), Reading Kant's Geography. State University of New York Press. pp. 291--318.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Enlightenment: The Crisis and Transformation of the Concept.Mile Savic - 2006 - Filozofija I Društvo 2006 (30):9-29.
On the practical enlightenment.You Zhanshi - 2001 - Philosophy and Culture 28 (11):1034-1056.
The Dialectic of Enlightenment and the “Dark Continent”.G. L. Ulmen - 1999 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1999 (115):151-160.
Planetary Perspectives in Enlightenment Fiction and Science.Natasha Lee - 2010 - In Christie McDonald & Susan Rubin Suleiman (eds.), French Global: A New Approach to Literary History. Columbia University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
9 ( #783,389 of 2,271,536 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #568,563 of 2,271,536 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature