The Center Must Not Hold: White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy functions as a textual site where white women philosophers engage boldly in critical acts of exploring ways of naming and disrupting whiteness in terms of how it has defined the conceptual field of philosophy. Within this text, white women philosophers critique the field of philosophy for its complicity with whiteness as a structure of power, as normative, and as hegemonic. In this way, the authority of whiteness to define what is philosophically worthy is seen as reinforcing forms of philosophical narcissism and hegemony. Challenging the whiteness of philosophy in terms of its hubristic tendencies, white women philosophers within this text assert their alliance with people of color who have been both marginalized within the field of philosophy and have had their philosophical and intellectual concerns and traditions dismissed as particularistic. Aware that feminist praxis does not necessarily lead to anti-racist praxis, the white women philosophers within this text refuse to telescope as a site of critical inquiry one site of hegemony (sexism) over another (racism). As such, the white women philosophers within this text are conscious of the ways in which they are implicated in perpetuating whiteness as a site of power within the domain of philosophy. Framed within a philosophical space that values the multiplicity of philosophical voices, and driven by a feminist framework that valorizes de-centering locations of hegemony, interdisciplinary dialogue, and transformative praxis, The Center Must Not Hold refuses to allow the white center of philosophy to masquerade as universal and given. The text de-centers various epistemic and value orders that are predicated upon maintaining the center of philosophy as white. The white women philosophers who contribute to this text explore ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, taste, the nature of a dilemma, questions of the secularity of philosophy, perception, discipline-based values around how to listen and argue, the crucial role that social location plays in the continued ignorance about the reality of oppression and privilege as these relate to the subtle forms of white valorization and maintenance, and more. Those interested in critical race theory and critical whiteness studies will appreciate how the contributors have linked these areas of critical inquiry within the often abstract domain of philosophy.
George Yancy is associate professor of philosophy at Duquesne University and author of Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race. He is also coeditor of Critical Perspectives on bell hooks and Narrative Identities: Psychologists Engaged in Self-Construction and editor of Philosophy in Multiple Voices, White on White/Black on Black, What White Looks Like: African American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question, The Philosophical I: Personal Reflections on Life in Philosophy, Cornel West: A Critical Reader, and African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations.
Introduction: Troublemaking Allies
Chapter 1. White Ignorance and the Denials of Complicity: On the Possibility of Doing Philosophy in Good Faith
Chapter 2. Knowing What the Ending Will Be: Pragmatism and White Cultural Authority
Chapter 3. On Intersectionality and the Whiteness of Feminist Philosophy
Chapter 4. The Man of Culture: The Civilized and the Barbarian in Western Philosophy
Chapter 5. Whiteness and Rationality: Feminist Dialogue on Race in Academic Institutional Spaces Chapter 6. Appropriate Subjects: Whiteness and the Discipline of Philosophy
Chapter 7. Color in the Theory of Colors? Or: Are Philosophers' Colors All White?
Chapter 8. The Secularity of Philosophy: Race, Religion, and the Silence of Exclusion
Chapter 9. Philosophy's Whiteness and the Loss of Wisdom
Chapter 10. Against the Whiteness of Ethics: Dilemmatizing as a Critical Approach
Chapter 11. The Whiteness of Anti-Racist White Philosophical Address
Chapter 12. Colonial Practices/Colonial Identities: RacialFormation and White Feminist Academic Discourse
Chapter 13. Is Philosophy Anything if it Isn't White?
How can intelligent, well-meaning lovers of wisdom become so unwise? In The Center Must Not Hold, George Yancy brings together contributors who confront this urgent question with candid, thoughtful analyses of their own whiteness, the whiteliness of Philosophy and the pitfalls of anti-racist and feminist theorizing. Let us listen to these white women allies in our quest to create self-reflective, inclusive, and coalitional philosophies so as to destabilize the reign of whiteness in a discipline that professes not only the love of wisdom but also the love of justice...
With rare exception, philosophy — even feminist philosophy — has remained cool toward the critical analysis of race, racism, and racial privilege. In this powerful, demanding, and insightful volume, women philosophers unflinchingly tackle the discipline's refusal to interrogate its discursive practices, its silence, its more or less conscious collusion in the construction of 'whiteness'. This work breaks new ground in its challenge to all who need and love and do philosophy....
If the unexamined life is not worth living, can the unexamined discipline be worth reproducing? In The Center Must Not Hold, reflective practitioners of the craft provide compelling reasons for worrying about the soul of the enterprise and the insidious toxicity of some of its most deeply entrenched assumptions....