Unit 2 Assignment 1 Preston Ito

The main paragraph on p. 35 is a nice illustration of what I called (at Sapere Aude) the “Principle of Charity”. It’s also a good example of how you can be charitable toward a view without agreeing with it. Here’s an exercise: pick a Unit 1 reading that you disagree with and, using the Principe paragraph as a model, write a (brief) charitable account of that reading

“Principle of Charity” on Diderot and slavery

Part 1: Since Diderot wrote in such a radically different time period, it is easy to dismiss his ideas as invalid. For example, Diderot justified slavery by saying slaves are incapable of reasoning, therefore are subject to slavery. Basically, he thought slaves didn’t use reason, because if they did, then they would free themselves. Since they don’t reason, slavery becomes acceptable. Obviously, we now are able to acknowledge all of the flaws in this reasoning. However, I don’t think that means we should completely dismiss Diderot. Instead, we should analyze the context in which he said it. He lived in a time when slavery was normalized and accepted in society, despite the countless moral problems. We can take this and apply it to our society. What problems do we have with our society and that we are blindly accepting of? What can we do to identify these problems, and more importantly fix them? Although I don’t agree with Diderot, I still believe there is value to what he said, and there are lessons we can take from it to improve our society today.

Part 2: How important is the studies of science in understanding humanities and how can we relate them to each other?

Unit 1 Assignment 3: Preston Ito

While reading “The Meaning of Freedom” written by Angela Davis, I became interested in her idea of racism being treated as “individual and private irregularities” in the present day, and comparing it to racism in state policy as it were in the past, as well as the problems that arise from this categorization. She first points out that although explicit racism in state policy no longer exists, racism has deep roots in our society and can’t be treated as private irregularities. We must not act as if racism only applies to certain outliers. In doing so, we fail to recognize some of the important factors when discussing the disproportional number African American incarcerations. A figure that stood out to me was that 13% of the total population of black men in the United States are imprisoned, therefore meaning that 13% of the total population of black men have lost their right to vote. There is obviously something underneath it all, and when we ignore this deep structural racism, we’re allowing racism to thrive.

Authors: Davis, Brooks, Maalouf

  1. How does one’s perception of their own identity affect how others treat them?
  2. What’s the most efficient thing we, as a society, can do to combat the deeply rooted structural racism that is affecting the lives of millions across the country?
  3. In terms of achieving racial equality, how much progress have we made in the past 20 years, and how feasible is achieving equality in such a diverse environment such as that of the U.S.?