Widening my interest, in my mid-thirties, I enrolled for a history of philosophy course. In mid-year, I asked the head of the faculty how three British eighteenth-century philosophers could give us an understanding of the history of philosophy – where were the issues of philosophy delineated and discussed? Where were the Eastern philosophies with such a rich heritage? The answer was, “We don’t have anyone to teach these subjects.” Why the hell not? And why describe the course erroneously as a history of philosophy?
When (at the age of forty) I tried to enrol for a course on the philosophy of religion, I was told that I had to complete a whole undergraduate course on philosophy before I could be admitted. A broad-based degree and the rest of my learning were irrelevant. What was the concern; was one to be sufficiently conditioned, especially semantically, like a theology student working to become a priest?
An amusing interlude, when Sputnik went up. Our socialite professor of economics asked his postgraduate class what this signified. After a few minutes of silence, I ventured, “Something to do with the theory that what goes up must come down?” I may have confused the question with the Chinese philosophy of change in the heavens, but the dear old prof. simply gave me a filthy look for my pains. We never did find out what Sputnik did to Western economists.
One interesting thing I found was that many Western academics in subjects such as art, religion, philosophy seemed to believe that Asian – that is, east of the Mediterranean – achievements were, in the main, derived from the Greek (when no self-respecting Anglo-Saxon would be seen cohabiting with a Greek). To these writers, Egyptian cultures too could not possibly have made any contribution to civilising mankind.
Obviously, too, Chinese and Indian civilisations older than those in Europe could not possibly have made any worthwhile contribution to Europe. Arab and Moor musicians could not possibly have contributed to the development of music in Europe. Art forms in Tibet, for example, and even in India, were obviously from the Greeks.
And the Greeks were the first civilised people in the world. Alexander, the Macedonian, takes over the empire established by Darius, the Persian. Alexander becomes a Greek and the greatest general in history (say some experts); what about Genghis Khan?
The West, owing all to the Greeks, can be proud that its heritage was not touched by coloured people, no? One must not concede, as these writers made clear, anything to the non-whites. I presume that Jesus changed colour during the many transmutations of his alleged utterances – maybe he was really a Greek in disguise. I bet that there will be a book out soon saying just that.
I also find it strange that systematic observations by the ancient Hindus, Chinese, Assyro-Babylonians, Persians and Egyptians, of the movements of the planets and their effects on mankind, can be rejected by prominent Western scholars of recent time as incorrect.
(As these extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ might suggest, academics are humans too. They can be affected, like everybody else, by considerations extraneous to the issues being studied.
Cultural heritage, religious preferences, tribal superiority, a personal preference to be accepted as infallible, and so on, have been observed by both open-minded youth at universities and older seekers of knowledge to have contaminated perceptions of history, human behaviour, etc. as written or as orally taught.
This tendency obviously makes it difficult for seekers of knowledge to be certain that the views presented by scholars reflect reality. Worse still, in my day, god-professors were a career hazard. I can provide examples. In the event, how is one to understand what one is studying?)