Community & Government

How Philosophy Serves Humanity

Cornel West

Lesson time 08:22 min

In this lesson, Cornel explains how philosophy is a counterweight against forms of dogma, and looking at humanity through a philosophical lens allows for members to better understand their own egotistical proclivities, resulting in becoming the best versions of themselves.

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Topics include: Combating Egotism With Resources of the Self


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I think it's very important in a moment in which there are serious conversations about racism and white supremacy or gender and male supremacy or class and capitalist domination of workers that we still look at the world through moral and spiritual lens even as we acknowledge the weight of the social constructs of race and class and gender or empire or sexual orientation. Why do I say that? I say that because all the talk in the world about race or gender or sexual orientation or class could still lose sight of the humanity of those who are subsumed under those categories. Whereas when you have a moral and spiritual lens, you recognize that any time you're talking about race, you're never talking about some homogeneous population. You're talking about a variety of different precious human beings under Blackness. Some might be from Ethiopia, others from Haiti, Jamaica, St. Nevis, Barbados, others from Alabama, Mississippi, Chicago, or like myself, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California. That's a diverse group of folk. That's a lot of different kind of Black folk you're talking about. Same is true with whiteness. No such thing as homogeneous whiteness. The Irish brother is gonna be very different than the British sister or the Italian or the German. And they're gonna have very different class positions and very different sexual orientations, different religious ideas. So yes, social constructs are important to the degree to which we understand how institutions have developed over time. There have been racist institutions. Still are. There's been class-based institutions. Still are. There's been gender-based institutions. Still are. We've made some progress. No doubt. But brother Malcolm say, what? You don't stab folk nine inches in the back, pull it out six inches, and celebrate your progress. No, you build on it. But in the end, through moral and spiritual lens learning how to see so we don't cheat ourselves, so that we don't diminish ourself, to see the humanity of the people under these categories. That in the end is the crucial thing because if we end up solely with social constructs and we lose the moral and spiritual lens through which we view ourselves, the world, and others, we just gonna end up with another dog-eat-dog. My brother Cliff reminds me of that all the time. You see, that's where the worst of humanity resides. And that's too often where it looks like we're headed if all we have are just social constructs and lose sight of the rich humanity of each and every one of us who are subsumed under different social constructs. And we have to be able to say that in such a way that we still have powerful critiques of militarism, especially in US militarism around the world and the worst of capitalism, the worst of any form of domination. And that's why philosophy is always a counterweight against forms of death, forms of dogma, forms of domination. But in the end, there will always ...

About the Instructor

Cornel West is one of the most profound, diverse, and intellectual thinkers of our time. Now he’s inviting you into the depths of his brilliant mind to teach you how thinking like a philosopher can help you navigate your personal relationships, your decision-making, and your everyday life by looking at the world from a completely different point of view.

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Cornel West

Distinguished philosopher Cornel West teaches you how to think more deeply, connect more closely, and live a more fruitful and meaningful life.

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