Scottish Newspaper: Philosophy is a “Vaccine” Against Future Trumps

The Scotsman, one of Scotland’s leading newspapers, called for a greater emphasis on philosophy in education, saying “we need to vaccinate ourselves against the virulent lies of people like Trump and the best way to do that is to teach the wisdom of Socrates and co to our children.”

In a brief editorial on Sunday, the editors quote remarks by Irish president Michael Higgins shortly after the election of Donald Trump:

The teaching of philosophy is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to empower children into acting as free and responsible subjects in an ever more complex, interconnected and uncertain world… A new politics of fear, resentment and prejudice against those who are not ‘like us’ requires the capacity to critique, which an early exposure to the themes and methods of philosophy can bring.

Noting that “since the mid-20th century, philosophy has not been given the same level of importance as it was in the past,” the editors state that philosophy can help counter “bizarre conspiracies” and other false beliefs that animate far-right populists. “We are heading towards a new world in which philosophy and the ability to think logically become increasingly important,” they write.

While philosophers may find the editorial’s argumentation for its conclusion a bit wanting, the call for more teaching of philosophy in a major newspaper may nonetheless be significant as an indicator of a more welcoming attitude toward philosophy in the broader culture, or an opportunity to push for more philosophical initiatives.

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