Academic philosophy in the West, especially in the U.S., suffers from a sickness that’s increasingly evident—the sickness of parochialism. A few have raised their voices against it but a new salvo to confront the sickness was fired by a grad student called Eugene Sun Park, who quit his philosophy program and wrote an essay titled Why I Left Academia: Philosophy’s Homogeneity Needs Rethinking. An excerpt below.
Philosophy is predominantly white and predominantly male. This homogeneity exists in almost all aspects and at all levels of the discipline. The philosophical canon, especially in so-called “analytic” departments, consists almost exclusively of dead, white men. The majority of living philosophers—i.e., professors, graduate students, and undergraduate majors—are also white men. And the topics deemed important by the discipline almost always ignore race, ethnicity, and gender. Philosophy, it is often claimed, deals with universal truths and timeless questions. It follows, allegedly, that these matters by their very nature do not include the unique and idiosyncratic perspectives of women, minorities, or "people of culture."
"Astoundingly, many professional philosophers are perplexed as to why there aren’t more women and minorities in philosophy. While there may be no single reason why philosophy is so lacking in diversity, the fact that it is lacking is blatantly clear when we compare philosophy to other humanistic disciplines.
Brian Leiter penned a rather fatuous response in which he read Park's response as identity politics and against the spirit of cosmopolitanism. Another non-academic practitioner of philosophy, Bharath Vallabha, responded admirably well to Leiter and Park. And this post on New Apps blog has several interesting responses to Leiter and the whole debate, notably by Jonardon Ganeri and Justin EH Smith.