Decanonized Reading: Intellectual Humility and Mindfulness in Reading Canonical Philosophical Writings
A serious concern faced by many scholars and readers of philosophy is how to proceed after reading the canonical texts; this may include the question – “why are they canons, anyway?” Of course, developing a passing knowledge of the works of mainstream philosophers remains an inevitable burden for students of philosophy. However, any specific written work is a product of particular vantage points and contexts, and thus cannot escape from showing partiality towards some perspectives. This work revisits the taken-for-granted assumptions involved in the selection of canonical texts and argues for a critical readership and re-imagination of their canonical status and pre-eminence. The necessity of a de-canonized reading of canonical texts is asserted; that is, a repositioning of these texts vis-à-vis in relation to the wide availability of non-canonical philosophical works, which permits a nuanced account of their reading and interpretation. Here, the goal is to examine the potential of an approach that prompts readers of philosophical texts to navigate the richness of different contexts and perspectives without being dependent on the Western agenda as the central frame of inquiry. It is hoped that this mode of rethinking may, at the very least, promote epistemic modesty.
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