By Mathew Goldstein
Tragically, nonsense is being promoted in academia by professors under the rubric of scholarship. This foolishness is well entrenched at prestigious secular universities and repeatedly appears in renown academic journals. This unfortunate phenomena spills over from the humanities to the sciences. It is often associated with postmodernist Critical Social Justice ideology (not be confused with actual social justice) which in turn is linked to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is then linked to civil rights, which provides a compelling excuse for smuggling highly dubious Critical Social Justice ideology into all sorts of topics and institutions. This is a big topic, and I am not an expert, but even with a cursory reading of what it is about it is all too obvious that it is both fundamentally mistaken and counter-productive. So called “Epistemological decolonization” is an example. Read the afore-linked Wikipedia article for a description of the destructive hijacking of epistemology by Critical Social Justice ideology.
Unfairness, injustice, colonization, bigotry, economic exploitation, and the like, are not remedied by refusing to take seriously our responsibility to reliably identify what is non-fictional. If there is one reliable method (empirically anchored reasoning), and that method was utilized most successfully historically by white males in Europe, and Europeans unjustly exploited non-Europeans, and utilizing that one method fictionalizes traditional beliefs that were, and still are, considered to be non-fictional by many people, then it does not follow that we need to replace that one reliable method with a plurality of other, unreliable methods, in the name of social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, or civil rights. This is why the entire enterprise of re-defining epistemology for the purpose of achieving social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusivity, and civil rights, is flat out silly. Yet over and over again, lots of people are proudly claiming to be doing just that. They are corrupting one field of scholarship after another by mistakenly reframing almost all scholarship as being primarily about the single minded pursuit of an ideologically distorted conception of social justice.
The proponents of Critical Social Justice typically refuse to condescend to debating with their opponents. It is not good enough for the opponents of Critical Social Justice to have studied, and be knowledgeable, regarding the claims made by Critical Social Justice advocates. The proponents arrogantly and presumptuously insist everyone must first decolonize epistemology, etc., and actively incorporate such Critical Social Justice advocacy into their worldview to qualify as being competent enough to publicly discuss social justice. This circular, doxastically closed, approach is a classic indicator/symptom of dogmatism which goes together, hand and glove, with intolerance and authoritarianism. It is anti-intellectualism covered up with a superficial gloss of intellectualism. It lacks integrity.
Solicitations of statements of adherence to the tenets of Critical Social Justice, partially disguised as being solicitations for DEI statements, are being included in employment applications as mandatory competitive qualifications for being hired at secular institutions, much like statements of religious self-belief are included as conditions for employment at religious institutions. Instead of deity to worship and serve, there is systemic injustice to destroy. Penitence and evangelism are deemed essential. Students, to qualify as decent people and citizens, are obligated to endorse the complete set of doctrines and practices as instructed by the clerics.
It is difficult to avoid noticing how deeply rooted in resentment Critical Social Justice is. Some resentment is good, we should resent unfairness. There are a surfeit of injustices that we should resent. However, epistemology is about how we should go about distinguishing non-fiction from fiction. Resentment has no place here. And yes, the true versus false distinction does make a meaningful difference, it is the difference between our beliefs, and our belief based behaviors, being rational versus being irrational. Epistemology is merely one of the academic subjects being undermined by this all encompassing secular ideology, much like epistemology is merely one of the academic subjects undermined by all encompassing religious ideologies (most of theology).
Advocates of populist, almost anything goes, DEI epistemology should consider European white male Aldous Huxley’s accurate observation in his 1932 book “Texts and Pretexts” that what we claim to know is true is often actually false when we fail to anchor our factual claims in publicly available and verifiable, external to ourself, evidence:
It is man's intelligence that makes him so often behave more stupidly than the beasts. … Man is impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic. Thus, no animal is clever enough, when there is a drought, to imagine that the rain is being withheld by evil spirits, or as punishment for its transgressions. Therefore you never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. No horse, for example would kill one of its foals to make the wind change direction. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat's meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough.