Saturday, August 24, 2013

Philosophy from the Margins

To do philosophy from the margins is not to do merely marginal philosophy or to be concerned with merely marginal philosophical problems. It is not to promote the marginal as an end in itself or to be concerned with merely the margins, limits, or boundaries of philosophy.
      It is not to propose philosophical arguments that have merely marginal or questionable relevance and validity. It is not to behave unconventionally merely in order to explore the margins or test the limits of socially acceptable behavior.
      It is not merely to subscribe to the belief system of some marginalized social group. It is not merely to express disaffection or alienation from society. It is not to adopt some form of radical or extremist ideology.
      It is rather to stand outside the philosophical mainstream and to engage in philosophy from the standpoint of a person who has been marginalized. It is also to examine the implicit assumptions of mainstream philosophy, and to evaluate their rationality, justifiability, and validity.
      To do philosophy from the margins is to have been barred or excluded in one way or another from a conventional position of speakership within philosophy. It is to have been compelled to accept some marginalized status or form of postponed participation with regard to philosophical discourse.
      Must “philosophy from the margins” necessarily address the needs and concerns of those who have been marginalized? Is claiming to be marginalized something that is empty of meaning, by virtue of the fact that almost everyone can claim to have been marginalized in one way or another by someone else?
      Who exactly are the marginalized in our society? Who marginalizes whom? In what way do people marginalize those whom they do not want to recognize or engage in dialogue with?
      To do philosophy from the margins may be to recognize the diverse viewpoints of, and to examine the problems that are relevant to, those who have been marginalized, forgotten, displaced, or dispossessed by society. It may be to encourage social equity and to promote the eradication of distinctions between insiders and outsiders.
      Philosophy from the margins may also reveal the centrality of the marginal and the marginality of the central. It may question or destabilize the meanings of centrality and marginality, and it may allow their interdependence to be recognized.
      To do philosophy from the margins may be to record one’s thoughts in the margins of a philosophical text (or in the margins of a text that has philosophical implications). It may be to inscribe a text with one’s own philosophical thoughts and reflections. It may be to record one’s own observations on, or interpretation of, a text, and to become the author of a commentary on the text. It may be to identify whatever is noteworthy in a text and to engage in dialogue with that text.
      Doing philosophy from the margins may also mean recognizing the occurrence of epistemological thresholds, limits, breaks, and discontinuities. It may mean resisting the pressure to conform to traditional methods of reading, understanding, and problem solving.
       It may mean a concern with boundary objects, boundary concepts, boundary conditions, and boundary questions. It may mean an exploration of the horizons of being, time, space, consciousness, existence, and experience. It may also mean an investigation of the limits of thought, reason, emotion, discourse, and language.

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