Not so long ago I was about to take a philosophy 101 class at a community college in Arizona, but the professor, who I later was told spends a substantial amount of time talking about "white privilege," was going to make it about the "sociology of philosophy." He explicitly said on day one that the class was going to focus on the racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, classism, etc. of thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and so on. I dropped with the ability to get a more sensible professor.
It's really remarkable. A classically liberal education should be about opening minds and considering ideas of past thinkers as they thought, not looking at the greatest minds through a narrow ideological filter promoting today's political ideas. Now I'm fully aware that someone like Aristotle defended slavery. Yet to primarily focus on these aspects, in an introductory course no less, is really to do a disservice. I know something about Aristotle---and I did then. The rest of the students? Probably nothing. What did they learn?
Thanks for reading my note. And thanks for your blog!
You're very welcome, George. What you say is true and important. I get a fair amount of mail like yours and it is gratifying to receive.
Leftist termites are hard at work undermining our institutions including the universities, the government, the Christian churches, and the Fourth Estate. Genuine conservatives need to emerge from their private lives and fight back, else it will be all over in a generation. One reason is precisely to preserve the private life against the Left's totalitarian encroachment. And notice I said genuine conservatives, not never-trumping pseudo-conservative, yap-and-scribble-but-do-nothing quislings such as Bill Kristol and George Will. I don't use the label 'cuckservative,' but I understand why others do.
The sociology of knowledge is a worthy field of inquiry. A branch thereof is the sociology of philosophy. But any sociology of philosophy will of necessity rest on philosophical assumptions, the examination of which is the office of philosophy. Philosophy does not allow herself to be outflanked, by anyone or anything, including sociology. She outflanks all possible outflankers. Changing the metaphor, we can can that she always ends up on top.
This is a topic worth developing, but at the moment I need to gear up for a hike. One exercise for you is to think through the following: If all knowledge is ideology in support of existing societal power relations, then what about that very claim? Does it escape being ideology in support of a different set of power relations? And if it doesn't why should we accept it? If it does, then not all knowledge is ideology.
As for 'white privilege,' see my Some Questions About White Privilege. It is difficult, but worth the effort.