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Can Non‐Europeans Philosophize? Transnational Literacy and Planetary Ethics in a Global Age

  • Nikita Dhawan


Defenders of the Enlightenment highlight the long neglected anticolonial writings of thinkers like Immanuel Kant, which serve as a corrective to the misrepresentation of the Enlightenment's epistemological investment in imperialism. One of the most pervasive repercussions of the claim that the Enlightenment was always already anti‐imperial is that postcolonial critique is rendered redundant, and the project of decolonizing European philosophy becomes unnecessary. Contesting the exoneration of Enlightenment philosophers of racism and sexism, this article debunks the claim that Kantian cosmopolitanism was an antidote to colonialism. Addressing the ambivalent legacies of the European Enlightenment for the postcolonial world, with special focus on the “Syrian refugee crisis,” the article examines the enduring normative violence exerted by Enlightenment principles of cosmopolitanism and outlines the contested terrains that inflect current geopolitics of knowledge‐production. Given that the normative idea of philosophy, as defined during the Enlightenment, continues to delegitimize non‐European perspectives, the integration of previously marginalized knowledges into the philosophical canon is insufficient; rather, in order to desubalternize non‐Western epistemologies, it is imperative to undo the uneven distribution of epistemic agency globally. Drawing on Gayatri Spivak's ideas of transnational literacy and planetary ethics, the article concludes by underscoring the contribution of postcolonial‐feminist critique in imagining postimperial philosophy in a global age.



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Can Non‐Europeans Philosophize? Transnational Literacy and Planetary Ethics in a Global Age

  • Nikita Dhawan


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