A new generation of philosophers finds their studies too one-sided: ‘Philosophy should also focus on women, racism and mental health’

It is time that philosophy is no longer limited only to what dead white men say, according to Imre van Dreumel of the MAP Tilburg student philosophy club. “Philosophers think about how society is organized or what equality is. It is unfair to approach this only from the perspective of Western males.

Emery van Dremel. Photo: Jacques Toomers

Philosophy must become more comprehensive and fair. Building on this idea, a group of philosophy students in Tilburg, led by then doctoral student Yvette Driessen, founded the first Dutch branch of MAP in 2020 (Minorities and philosophyed.) in an international student network with exactly this goal.

The first batch of MAP Tilburg launched successfully. Based on their shared enthusiasm for a more inclusive society, they quickly organized reading groups, debates, podcasts, lectures, and a philosophy festival.

The momentum was good, but Dressen was promoted and others on the team graduated. MAP seems to be slowly disappearing from campus. This has changed with the beginning of this academic year: a number of students have become active again who want to change the culture of philosophy in Tilburg.

Their first big project is organizing the annual ALL Too HUMAN festival on Saturday 28 October at De Nieuwe Vorst Theater. It is a good time to talk to new President Emery van Dreumel about her plans for the MAP.

How did you end up at MAP?

Yvette gave a presentation on MAP during last year’s lecture. I was immediately excited about their vision of philosophy, but I had only just started studying. First I wanted to see how I liked studying. I love it and I have time on my hands. That’s why I sent a letter to Yvette and started as Chairman of the Board.

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Your goal is to make philosophy more inclusive and fair. Why is this necessary?

“The problem with many philosophy courses is that they are mainly about the work of dead white men. Their study is logical and good. It has to be there. For historical reasons, it is also the core of philosophy and everything is basically built on that.”

“In addition, there may be more room to discuss other points of view. The Tilburg philosophy program focuses entirely on Western philosophy. More attention could be paid to non-Western philosophy and women. This does not mean that we want to learn less about the works of traditional big names, but We also want to study philosophy further.

Does the current focus on Western philosophy also make education unfair?

“Philosophy is about knowledge, but it is also about how to organize society or ask questions like: What is truth?” What is valuable? What is equality? If the answers to these questions rely solely on the Western male perspective, you won’t get a comprehensive picture. It’s very one-sided.

“Philosophy therefore lacks a wide range of perspectives and topics. It doesn’t just think about the obvious topics like feminism and racism. There is also very little attention to topics like mental health, poverty or shame in pre-vocational secondary education.”

Do you have concrete plans to change this?

“We don’t have a handbook ready explaining how we want to amend the law as quickly as possible, or whether we will storm the university next week.”

Shame…

‘Who knows later! For now, we want to work on inclusivity within philosophy with an enthusiastic group and give others a space to share their thoughts on this topic.

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How do you imagine this?

We started a book club. Each month we jointly select a work to discuss. There we care about thinkers who are not appointed to the university. In addition, we organize the annual event on October 28 in cooperation with former MAP members ALL HUMAN FESTIVAL In Niue Forest. We want to start quietly and expand slowly.

‘In the first year of MAP Tilburg, a lot of enthusiasm was done. Major events were organized from the beginning. This also had a downside. The investment in freshmen has been made too late. Then everyone graduated and there was no one to take over the work. Our task now is to start everything over again and reach a new group that will benefit from our initiatives.

What can we expect from the festival?

‘Thread is Writing history. It starts at 1pm with workshops and lectures given by various philosophers such as Katherine Robb and Martha Claes, but also non-philosophers such as DJ St. Paul. In the evening there is more interest in art and music.

Is it possible to rewrite history?

“It is especially important to realize that history, like philosophy, is written from one side. You can make additions so that other things are highlighted as well. This can provide a more complete picture of history. So the message of the festival is not to burn written texts.”

“It’s good to explain why texts are written in a certain way. During the festival, for example, there is the exhibition ‘De Roze Draad’, which shows the queer history of Tilburg using old archives. A history that has not received much attention in the past, but it does exist.”

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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