Friday, October 05, 2018
In Indiafacts, on privileged humanism.
The problem from the postcolonialist point of view is that this humanism apparently celebrates the achievements of the (by default upper class) white western male alone, “it imposes a series of cultural, social and economic constraints on the very quality of human-ness.” Simply put, this humanism does not regard all humans fully human. As the German philosopher Heidegger had observed, it identifies a Homo humanus (a civilized, fully human individual) and a Homo barbarus (an uncivilized, barbaric human individual). The former is always the upper class white western male. Ultimately, the grouses nurtured by the postcolonialists against western knowledge systems and humanism can lead them to view the state in poor light. This is because renaissance humanism valorizes the state “as the proper end of knowledge” and aspires to establish “a symbiotic relationship between culture – or knowledge – and the state.” Whose knowledge is this? Of course, it is the knowledge of the Homo humanus, the upper class white western male. Thus, the postcolonialist might allege, the state embodies the privileged, western masculine way of knowing.
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