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Whitewashing is a historical operation of erasure. In not a single undergraduate or graduate philosophy course did I ever encounter ancient Africanist / Kemetian / Egyptian philosophers; Plato's references to them were considered "origin myths" rather than historical accounts of the spread of ideas from Kemet through to Greece. The most ancient we ever strayed were the pre-Socratics, who of course were considered "mystics", even as most demonstrated advanced knowledge of mathematics evidently gleaned from study at Alexandria and Heliopolis. I suspect the "whitewashing" of philosophy has taken place as contiguous to the invention of race/racism in the post-Enlightenment era. Earlier Greek and Roman philosophs recognised Kemet as the basis for Greek developments; unfortunately we've lost much of these histories and archives (not least due to the destruction of the library at Alexandria; but also because white Western philosophy persists in distrusting neo-Platonist accounts of earlier traditions). I look forwards to teaching a Philosophy 100 course that begins with Babylonian and Indian texts and then shifts to Kemet before following the ideas to Greece. This is still a tracing of philo-sophia, but in its complexity rather than its erasure.
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Aug 26, 2015