Samantha Vice, "How do I live in this strange place?" (PHIL 102, University of British Columbia)

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Samantha Vice, "How do I live in this strange place?" (PHIL 102, University of British Columbia)

  1. 1. Vice, “How Do I Live in This Strange Place?” (2010) PHIL 102, Fall 2013 Christina Hendricks, University of British Columbia Presentation licensed CC-BY-SA
  2. 2. From wikimedia commons, licensed CC-BY-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Non-whites_Only_Bench_O From wikimedia commons, public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ApartheidSignEnglishAfrikaans.jpg
  3. 3. Bantustans at end of Apartheid period From wikimedia commons, licensed CC-BY-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bantustans_in_South_Africa.svg
  4. 4. www.flickr.com/photos/45339532@N00/93894044/ Flickr photo licensed CC-BY shared by Thomas_Sly Township near Cape Town, Flickr photo shared by Simon Harriyott, licensed CC-BY
  5. 5. Vice’s use of philosophy in her own context Ward Jones, “Philosophers, Their Contexts, and Their Responsibilities” (Metaphilosophy, 2006) (not assigned) “Philosophical communities and individual philosophers should be sensitive to--attuned to and concerned with--the practically and theoretically relevant issues that are salient in their nonphilosophical surroundings, and at least some of their work should be motivated by a concern for those issues.” (631) “If we can behave in a way such that this behavior can bring about an improvement in some people’s lives, then it can coherently be said that we should behave in this way, and that we can coherently be accused of neglect were we not to behave in this way.” (639)
  6. 6. Vice’s conclusions in this article 1. It is appropriate for white South Africans who lived during Apartheid to feel shame at the recognition of their “unavoidable privilege” (329). 2. How white South Africans who lived during Apartheid should respond to this is to focus on self-improvement with “humility and silence” (335)--they should not engage in public, political activities.
  7. 7. Why is shame appropriate for white South Africans? • Shame: “a response to having fallen below the standards one sets for oneself” (328); “the recognition that one ought not to be as one is” (329) • Whites in South Africa enjoy significant, undeserved privileges over non-whites ‣ “There is nothing about one’s particular self that makes one deserve special treatment and that ease of moving about the world that comes with being white” (329)
  8. 8. Why is shame appropriate for white South Africans? • The self is implicated in this: one can discover that one’s self is problematic in some way, that one is not living up to ideals ‣ the way one thinks & acts, even unconsciously, can express bias and perpetuate inequality - one can have “an attitude of automatic, unwilled, distrust or fear” (328); and/or “indifference or callousness, cowardice or dishonesty, the failure of imagination or empathy, or just plain laziness” (327) - e.g., unconscious bias: the “Implicit Association Test” https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/
  9. 9. Shame may not be appropriate for ALL white S. Africans • Argues that this claim for the appropriateness of shame applies only to those white South Africans who participated in Apartheid (even passively), or grew up during Apartheid (334, fn. 38 on p. 341)
  10. 10. What to do with this shame? • Work on “a private project of self-improvement” rather than engaging in political activism • Humility and silence: making oneself “invisible and unheard,” “refraining from airing one’s view on the political situation in the public realm” (335) ‣ “Whites have too long had influence and a public voice”; “blacks must be left to remake the country in their own way” (335) ‣ if one thinks, speaks and acts in morally problematic ways, then should work on changing that before entering public realm
  11. 11. Could any of these arguments be applied to Canada & aboriginal peoples? • Some differences in the situations: (may or may not be relevant to the question above) ‣ many of the most overt governmental discriminatory policies and practices are less recent here ‣ non-aboriginal people outnumber aboriginal people in Canada currently ‣ in Canada, there was more a policy of assimilation of aboriginal peoples to European culture than of separation
  12. 12. Potlatch in Alert Bay, BC, early 20th century http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/indian-potlach-alert-bay-b-c-2;rad (public domain) Chief Car-Li-Te’s potlatch (1910) http://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/chief-car-li-tes-p (public domain)
  13. 13. Class of Mi’kmaq girls in a residential school in N.S. (1929) Flickr photo shared by BiblioArchives licensed CC-BY Girls in a residential school in NW from library and archives Canada (public domain)
  14. 14. Children in Fort Providence, NWT residential mission school (1929) from Library and Archives Canada (public domain)
  15. 15. • Any of Vice’s arguments relevant? I find I am not living up to my ideals for myself ‣ I could be accused of “indifference…the failure of imagination or empathy, or just plain laziness” (Vice 327) because I haven’t paid much attention to the concerns of aboriginal people in Canada/BC. ‣ And yet, I benefit directly from this history and its legacy: make my livelihood on unceded Musqueam territory, have bought and sold property here & profited. ‣ Not arguing here that these things are wrong, but that I should have looked into the issues further; the fact that I didn’t says something about my values & priorities.

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