Wednesday, October 20

Dynamite Patriarchal Philosophy

Let’s start with the triggers of any philosophical reflection: the questions. Is it enough to integrate women * philosophers into the educational curriculum to update our classroom practices? How can you build a non-misogynistic resume? And a feminist curriculum in Philosophy? What contribution have women * made and are making to Philosophy?

In 2022 the EBAU Philosophy test (the old selectivity) of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country will experience a (historical) change for many, small, for others, significant and for too many, uncomfortable. For the first time in the list of 10 philosophers to work there will be two women. Simone de Beauvoir and Hanna Arendt take over from José José Ortega y Gasset and Jürgen Habermas. Who frequent Pikara Magazine habitually and does not know the ins and outs of the Basque educational curriculum, it is likely that she will be at least surprised that we still walk like this. Yes, this is the reality of the teaching of Philosophy in Basque classrooms and it is far from coming close to any feminist framework. Plato, Aristoteles, Agustín de Hipona or Nietzsche are names that, generate more or less drowsiness in the classrooms, resonate with every student. This is not the case, however, of Aspasia, Olympe de Gouges, Rosa Luxemburg or Judith Butler. Fortunately, Basque students have the opportunity, from time to time, to meet disobedient professionals who work, both in form and content, in feminist directions.

From Agora Elkartea (association that brings together Philosophy teachers of the Basque Autonomous Community) we celebrate this small change in the curriculum for the second year of high school. In fact, we are drivers of that change. But it is difficult for us to celebrate in style a step that seems too small for an endless path. The contribution of women * to Philosophy is so invisible that much of the thought that philosophers have generated throughout history (and the world) is not even categorized as Philosophy. What in the history of Philosophy has been presented to us as universal is not so, because it is colored by the interests, doings, concerns and attitudes of white men. The proper names that we learn in the Philosophy classrooms correspond to white, bourgeois, western and older men, who generally speak and write while sitting in the chair, from a rationalist and intellectualist perspective; and in this way the image of the person who makes Philosophy has been forged in the collective imagination. We students have not had thought models with which to identify ourselves.

In July 2021, more than 60 people (most of them secondary school teachers, but also from other fields) met in Eibar hosted by the UEU (Udako Euskal Unibertsitatea / Basque Summer University), within the course Filosofiatik ezabatutako emakumeak (Women erased from Philosophy), to speak from the concrete and close to issues such as the ethics of care, the contribution of feminisms to this discipline, epistemic injustices or the thought of proper names such as Beauvoir, Arendt or Woolf. We ended the day with the Critical-Feminist Tractatus that sought to list practices that can help open the way in the teaching of Philosophy in Secondary from feminist practices. It was a very necessary and empowering exercise, as well as a beginning to create a network and share experiences and reflections among those of us who once went through a Philosophy faculty but did not see ourselves represented in the books. The objective was not only to deepen the thought of certain philosophers, but to investigate new ways of seeing, doing and transmitting Philosophy without leaving anyone out. Luckily (and out of commitment to this work) the Jakin Foundation will soon publish a monograph in which, in addition to collecting the papers presented in the course, it will offer material adapted to secondary education in Euskara so that teachers can work on the authors incorporated into the resume.

We know that we are going to encounter fears and many resistance along the way. The training that the Philosophy faculties have offered on thinking written with a woman’s name * is very scarce, and for that reason it is understandable that we feel a certain vertigo. There will be those who do not want to get up from that warm and comfortable armchair that the patriarchy gave them, and we will remind them of Rosa Luxemburg’s words: “He who does not move does not feel his chains”. Whatever we find along the way, we are sure that we want and must continue working in this direction; It is urgent, necessary and rewarding (especially when you see how necessary many of the students * you meet along the way consider it). We know that there are thousands of edges in which philosophy (s), education (s) and feminism (s) are found, and for that reason, we end as we have started: full of questions. How does philosophical practice become feminist? How do we collect feminist thought in History of Philosophy? What names should fit on an educational curriculum and what shouldn’t? What theories of thought do we consider relevant?

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