​​Indigenous Thoughts Network 



PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION

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BRUCE FERGUSON'S

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QUALITATIVE ANSWERS TO SURVEY QUESTIONS

1 &2. To start with, my research focuses on late-19th century German philosophy in the post-Kantian tradition. I've done a bit of reading on connections between my German figures and American philosophers, but, I'm afraid to say, all the American philosophy I've considered has been written by settler Americans. One reason I feel the lack of resources on indigenous philosophy is that I'm completely in the dark about possible connections between it and my own research.1 &2. To start with, my research focuses on late-19th century German philosophy in the post-Kantian tradition. I've done a bit of reading on connections between my German figures and American philosophers, but, I'm afraid to say, all the American philosophy I've considered has been written by settler Americans. One reason I feel the lack of resources on indigenous philosophy is that I'm completely in the dark about possible connections between it and my own research.Most bio’s on your work talk about your areas of interest (specialization) and for most profiles these interests are traditional within western philosophical categories.  Do you connect your area of studies to any consideration of indigenous knowledge?  And by indigenous knowledge I am not limiting the application of your work to pragmatic issues like political philosophy, or philosophy of poverty, etc., but the nature of indigenous thought as proposed to the discussion by western philosophers in your area of work. 



  • My areas are usually listed as lyric philosophy (the aphoristic, multi-voiced genre described above) and history of ideas. Yes, both are open to consideration of indigenous thought.


  • Well ​, I have done a lot of work on what we called "folk psychology" the understanding of mind embedded in everyday life. We took there to be psychological evidence that the very basic levels, what develops in a child before the age of four or so, is pretty universal, but that culturally specific factors enter later. That was the psychological orthodoxy of the time. (I built on this in my early book *frames of mind*, and 20 years later in my *the importance of being understood*.)​


No, unfortunately, there is no such connection. 


My approach to teaching philosophy is mainly problem-oriented, and indigenous thought doesn’t really bear on the issues that I deal with in my regular courses. However, I was responsible, when I was dep’t head, for introducing a special topics class in indigenous philosophy. I had to submit a course proposal, which was accepted by the university’s programs committee, and the course was permitted to be taught twice, after which time it would have to be considered for inclusion as a regular course in the undergraduate program. I was not “allowed” to teach the course myself for political reasons — native interest groups on campus objected to such courses being taught by non-natives (things have however changed since then). The course was not regularized because of resource issues.


Very limited, alas.  The only one I can think of is my book on analogical reasoning – this is a cross-cultural form of reasoning, for one thing.  For another, it is the type of reasoning employed by archaeologists who reason about ancient cultures, so that my work may be of slight interest to anthropologists working on indigenous cultures.


 Not really.


  When teaching environmental ethics yes, I would refer to some indigenous practices that honoured wildlife killed for food or appointed a spokesperson to represent a specific animal group.  Now my research is on core ethical values and I often discuss how important respect is to first nations people.  There are some differences we have about fairness that is interesting.  Just to let you know we have an Indigenous Research Ethics Institute at Carleton https://carleton.ca/indigenousresearchethics/   So I am interested in the underlying indigenous values that guide your research concerns.  If you would like to collaborate on a paper on this topic I would be happy to work with you.



Not really, partly for the reason I mentioned above and also because of the nature of the areas in which I work: Frankfurt School Critical Theory (a movement in German thought that began in the late 1920s), and metaethics.  I have talked a bit about Indigenous political issues in my work (e.g., why indigenous rights raise issues that the discourse on multiculturalism can't address, and talking about the way the Canadian gov't has [basically not] responded to indigenous protest, in a paper I wrote on "bullshit"].  But, as you rightly note, these aren't engagements with the nature of indigenous thought.


1 &2. To start with, my research focuses on late-19th century German philosophy in the post-Kantian tradition. I've done a bit of reading on connections between my German figures and American philosophers, but, I'm afraid to say, all the American philosophy I've considered has been written by settler Americans. One reason I feel the lack of resources on indigenous philosophy is that I'm completely in the dark about possible connections between it and my own research.


I am a retired philosopher and cognitive scientist whose work has indeed been limited to western, i.,e, white, pbilosophy, mostly narrowly focussed work on the mind and on certain figures in the history of philosophy, Kant in particular. My contacts with indigenous thought have mostly been via environmental ethics. I took part in a conference in Winnipeg in which elders played a prominent role. A book was supposed to come out of that conference but I have never seen one. 


I grew up in Germany and have very little knowledge about indigenous thought in Canada.  So, unfortunately not.


1. My own area is ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and I have never attempted to connect my work in this area to indigenous knowledge. 


The short answer is "no". The longer answer is "except occasionally". For instance, there is an article I have used for both teaching and research that discusses a research project performed some decades ago by a well known American philosopher who went to live with Hopi people, with a particular interest in finding out about Hopi ideas about values. 


1. You are correct that my area of specialization and my areas of competency centre on canonical philosophical categories, in particular on epistemology. That can, of course, cover or connect to some philosophical issues that some self-professed indigenous thinkers have identified as of concern or of interest to indigenous or aboriginal persons, such as different ways of knowing. I don’t myself study such things, first, because i’m not aboriginal and so i don’t think i’m competent to say what indigenous persons qua indigenous have to say about epistemology, and, second, because i’m deeply suspicious of the whole notion of ‘ways of knowing’. That being said, i’m not sure i understand what indigenous knowledge is, nor what ‘the nature of indigenous knowledge as proposed to the discussion by western philosophers’ amounts to. As a result, i’m not sure i can answer your question here. If, however, by indigenous knowledge you mean the traditional wisdom of aboriginal people(s), as expounded, say, by ‘elders’ (or like individuals,) then its not clear to me what such wisdom has to do with philosophy as i understand it — since ancient times, ‘philosophy’ has been defined in contradistinction to traditional wisdom of all kinds. 



No


I haven't done any work on indigenous philosophy. It's not a topic I have any background in (for the sorts of reasons you summarized in your message), but it is something I am curious about. Early in my career, I did publish a few articles about the relationship between colonialism and warfare among indigenous people in Amazonia, although I wouldn't call that indigenous philosophy. At Michigan State University, where I was prior to UBC, I had a colleague in the Philosophy Dept who is a Native American (Potowatami), and I co-authored a paper on environmental justice, although this paper did not discuss indigenous philosophical perspectives. 


No 


Some years ago I did a project on cultural appropriation. At that time, I looked into some indigenous ideas of property and ownership. I also interacted some with indigenous scholars. I am not actively working on this subject any longer.


I have started to think about the beliefs, stories, and traditions of indigenous people in relation to death (one of my areas of interest). In addition to the goal of better understanding what people think about, and do surrounding, death, my goal is to incorporate teachings into a course we offer on the philosophy of death.  I have also been learning about indigenous knowledge systems.  Certainly, I am not an expert in either area.


No, I do not make any such connections in my bio.



1. I received no education in Indigenous thought at any point during my university philosophy education. I was wholly unaware of it. This continued through the first 10 years teaching philosophy in various Canadian universities, and only changed when I started to teach in the Social Justice and Peace Studies program at King's University College at the University of Western Ontario I began to connect slowly at that point, but have had a three year intensive course since I became a bioethicist for the Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout. Two healers in particular have been helping me, as time permits, to understand what I can. Additionally, I have been reading as fast as I can to try and learn from other sources such as Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Leanne Simpson, Pamela Palmeter, Lynn Gehl, among others.

I feel that I have to be careful though, as I don't ever want to give the impression of being knowledgeable/to engage in appropriation of something that takes a lifetime to master. When I lecture on health ethics, I distinguish between Indigenous health ethics - which I am not competent to talk about, and which I have little, if anything, to add to - and health ethics with Indigenous peoples, which is more about allyship and empowerment, about building the realities of colonialism and racism into any account of health ethical issues that involve indigenous peoples.

The work on Indigenous thought by non-Indigenous people that I have read, such as it is, has not struck me as incredibly self-conscious

That having been said, I find what I understand of the eco-centric philosophies that I have witnessed (Anishnaabe, for the most part) is inspiring metaphysically, ontologically, ethically and aesthetically. I believe that mainstream medicine, for example, needs to learn to pay careful attention to the distinction between mind-body-spirit-community-land that motivates the Indigenous philosophies that I have seen. And I see that the embeddedness of mainstream medicine in atomism and capitalism makes it very difficult for it to do effective public health - since housing, sewage, imprisonment and the like are not seen as medical problems to be taught at medical schools.


  1. QUESTION # 2  number of areas of philosophy were a bit more general in their application (modern philosophy – which I understand to be the 16-17th centuries in western Europe) and or continental philosophy; are there philosophers in your area of interest that do, or could potentially contribute to the project of understanding the nature of indigenous thought?


Any philosophy that is interested in the "Other," most notably Phenomenology and Hermeneutics.


  • I believe that philosophers interested in environmental crisis — and how can anyone not be interested in environmental crisis? — are already using indigenous insights and approaches. Our work must get rid of the Western idea that humans can manage it all for their own immediate gratification, and must open to a world much bigger than we are. We must acknowledge the fundamental importance of philosophical traditions connected to the land. Many environmental philosophers of colonial descent are avid for indigenous insight. A contemporary philosopher with whom you should get in touch is Bruce Morito at Athabasca University. You also want to talk with Neal McLeod, author of 100 Days of Cree; he has a graduate degree in Western philosophy. You can get his contact information through his publisher, the University of Regina Press.


  •  ​Stich, as mentioned.​ A lot of philosophy of language, discussing Chomskian ideas about linguistic and cognitive universals. And in the other direction ideas due to Whorf and others that the form of language influences the form of thought. These latter ideas do not have many defenders these days, so it is perhaps about time they came back.


No​t much. I have had some contact with a professor in the linguistics department at UBC who works on the structure of West Coast Salish languages, in particular their way of expressing quantifiers, which tend to be seriously different. (There is a rather general working assumption here, widely shared, that all languages have the same jobs to do and all find their own ways of doing them, subject to constraints of universal grammar that probably have their roots in the human nervous system.)


Do you know Kyle Whyte (http://www.philosophy.msu.edu/people/faculty/kylepowyswhyte/)?  He's the former colleague from Michigan State I mentioned. I'm also interested in the topic myself, although I feel I don't have the background to explore it adequately.


nO


Philosophy of laugher & humor is one of my lesser research areas and I have occasionally taught courses in it. A mainstream course in philosophy of laugher & humor could not do much more than mention native humor in passing, but if such a course were reconfigured as an interdisciplinary course, more native content could be used, but I don’t know of anyone to recommend in that area.  

  • Neal Macleod, a former student of mind, himself a native, would be good at relating the philosophy of 16th-17th C. & the Enlightenment to native thought


I study particular topics in contemporary philosophy. I don't know of any philosophers currently contributing to or drawing from indigenous thought, but some of them would certainly be able to, and some would be interested in this too. However, I don't have any names to offer.


Only as already noted:  I work on philosophy of science, and some people in this area are interested in archaeology and how in how archaeologists should interact with First Nations peoples.


2.  Perhaps to some extent.  Thinking of western European thinkers in the 17th and 18th centuries, metaphysics of some <Descartes> might be useful as providing a sharp contrast to indigenous thought.  That of others <possibly Spinoza and/or Leibniz> could be a resource.  Spinoza is pantheistic, but pretty obscure and hard to grapple with. I've sometimes taught these thinkers, but could claim no expertise regarding Spinoza or Leibniz.


2.  The phenomenological strain of Continental Philosophy talks about how consciousness is rooted in history and how conversations with others helps expand the horizon of our own consciousness.  It’s good reason for talking to people from different cultures.  Hans Georg Gadamer, a German philosopher discusses this idea.




I'm really not sure what that would look like: there's no very obvious connection with the Frankfurt School (maybe the critique of instrumental reason?); metaethics might be different, if there is indigenous philosophical work on the nature of norms?  But I don't know anyone by name who makes these connections.  I thought Dale Turner's book (This is Not a Peace Pipe) had certain similarities to the idea of 'immanent critique' in Marx and critical theory; but I asked him about it when he was giving a talk at Nipissing, and I gather that's not an angle or link he's looked at.  (He would be a great person for you to talk to, though, if your research isn't limited to Canadian universities).

 Among my areas, environmental ethics is the obvious one.


I have to little understanding of indigenous thought to answer this question.


2. As far as I know no one in my area of interest is comparing ancient philosophy to indigenous thought, and a quick search on the Philosopher's Index didn't turn up anything.


2. Similar considerations bear here also. Since i’m not sure what ‘indigenous thought’ means, i’m not sure whether or how the individuals or periods that i study could contribute to understanding the nature of indigenous thought. Perhaps if you could articulate what you mean when you use that expression, i could better provide you with suitable answer. I fear that were i to attempt an answer i would risk misrepresenting ‘indigenous thought’, which would do no one any good. 


Juliette Christie (who is currently working at an institution of the lower mainland) developed a course on philosophy and indigenous thought while she was at UVic. I am not sure if she is continuing to think about this, but she might be worth contacting.  Juliette Christie (who is currently working at an institution of the lower mainland) developed a course on philosophy and indigenous thought while she was at UVic. I am not sure if she is continuing to think about this, but she might be worth contacting.  (Uvic)


Not directly, not yet.


I work in continental philosophy.  I think there must be interesting interconnections, though I am afraid I know too little of indigenous thought in order to lay them out here.  I know that David Abram brings together Phenomenology (especially by Merleau-Ponty) with some indigenous viewpoints. I know that Coulthard makes fruitful use of Fanon’s philosophy in order to think about the indigenous situation in Canada.  But I think that’s all I know. 


2. on your second question, I have come to understand that it is dangerous for me to apply mainstream philosophy to indigenous thought. For example, there is the temptation to apply Aristotelian virtue ethics to Anishnaabe concepts like Debwewin which, on the surface, look identical to virtues.  There are some valuable connections to be drawn, I think. But for me the insight will be in the differences - which can be too easily covered over by someone like me if I am not extremely careful. This is especially important since I am a neophyte in all of this.


If you mean contemporary, living philosophers, then I don't know of anyone in my areas who I know to have the relevant expertise.  That itself is sort of shocking.  


I teach a number of courses on biology and society, and on eugenics more specifically.  In building EugenicsArchive.ca, we explicitly attended to parallels between training schools for "the feebleminded" and residential schools--see the module on Institutions and institutionalization there.  But that is not focused on indigenous thought, but on the treatment of indigenous people.  I think we could do more here to articulate and incorporate indigenous ideas about eugenics into how this is taught, and I'll give some thought to how to do this. 



QUESTION # 3 - If you could define any relation between the courses you teach and your area of interest, what would it be that could or does connect it to understanding the nature of indigenous thought?


  • These questions are either answered above, or pertain to folks who are still teaching in the university.


  • I am retired and not teaching now. But the connection with indigenous thought had got considerably less in the last 10 years of my teaching career as I became less of a generalist and more focused on issues about knowledge. I would argue *against* views such as those of Michael Williams that standards of acceptable belief and method are culturally relative. (But the general issue is clearly of interest.)​
  •  ​One thing that we very much need is a better grasp of the line between universal human cognition and ways of thinking that are influenced by the culture one grows up in.​


No, unfortunately, there is no such connection.


My former colleague Rob Hudson, has taught some intro indigenous philosophy and has an interest in “ways of knowing” which relates indigenous knowledge to issues in epistemology. I could pursue that same interest but it would be difficult to do so within the context of a regular intro epistemology class.


 It's not strictly my area -- but environmental philosophy. Regarding metaphysics, ethics, politics.



  When teaching environmental ethics yes, I would refer to some indigenous practices that honoured wildlife killed for food or appointed a spokesperson to represent a specific animal group.  Now my research is on core ethical values and I often discuss how important respect is to first nations people.  There are some differences we have about fairness that is interesting.  Just to let you know we have an Indigenous Research Ethics Institute at Carleton https://carleton.ca/indigenousresearchethics/   So I am interested in the underlying indigenous values that guide your research concerns.  If you would like to collaborate on a paper on this topic I would be happy to work with you.


I teach a course on environmental ethics, which could have some links with indigenous thought.  This is a lower-year service course and not part of my own research area.  But it's a popular course.  In it, so far, I teach a paper by Roy Perrett that looks at the relationship between the indigenous rights movement (esp. land rights) and the environmental movement.  But certainly there could be much more.  I do have an interest in the possibility of trying to develop a course eventually on social epistemology that would look, specifically, at the rationality and legitimacy of collective decision-making, (which would include questions about the use of expert opinion, etc.) and, if I manage to do this, I would like to try to find some relevant discussion of Indigenous community-decision making (I've read a very little bit on this, including some examples of the way First Nations fisheries are run, by a guy called Ian Werkheiser -- he worked with someone in Philosophy at Michigan State who deals with Indigenous issues, at least, but I've forgotten the name.  And Carly Dokis, who is in Anthropology at Nipissing, does research relevant to this (originally with the Dene, although she has since branched out), so I'm hoping she might be able to help point me in some good directions). 



I teach a course on Public Health Ethics here at UBC, and one week of the course is devoted to ethics issues relating to indigenous health. I think this is a really important topic for people working in indigenous philosophy and ethics to work together to address. But I've really been disappointed by the lack of work in this area. That's something I'd really like to see more of.


3. You mention early modern philosophy. Although it's not my specialty, I do teach it here at SMU. An I idea I've been considering seriously is an undergraduate course on political and social philosophy from the 17th - 19th centuries. If my teaching schedule ever permits me to pilot that course, I'll be looking for accounts of indigenous thought on people's relations to land. For a Canadian university, that perspective would be an important counter-balance to, e.g., John Locke's view of property. That strikes me as one way of putting indigenous thought in dialogue with the history of western philosophy.



 Don't know of any connection. I have not taught environmental ethics for at least five years.


No, alas.

I have to little understanding of indigenous thought to answer this question.


3. When I teach ancient philosophy, I try to connect it to issues and problems that (I think) everyone is concerned with, such as "What is a just society?", "How do I live a good life?", "What is reality like?". If these are also issues in indigenous thought, then, presumably, we could draw connections between these philosophies.



. In the courses i teach i do, of course, discuss issues which i _think_ would be of interest to aboriginal or first nations or indigenous persons (i’m not quite sure of the correct expression, so i’ll just us ‘IP’ from now on) — discussions of the concepts of ‘sovereignty’ in the context of international law, or of ‘property rights’ in the context of civil law, or ‘aboriginal rights’ in the context of constitutional law, for instance — but i don’t think of these as necessarily connected to indigenous thought (IT) because i take it that persons of many ethnic traditions are interested in these things. Further, I don’t take myself, in studying and discussing these things, to be articulating or defending an ethnic ‘philosophy’ (such as, say, a French-Irish one), nor a national philosophy (such as, say, a Canadian one), nor a philosophical tradition (such as, say, a Western one). When I do philosophy, i do so in a catholic way, so far as i can. So I don’t do or study western philosophy (because i take philosophy wherever i find it, whether in the east or in the west.) Buddhism can be approached, for instance, as philosophy; but when it is approached as a tradition or as a religion then, in my view at least, it is not philosophy, and is of limited interest for philosophers. There are points of contact between Eastern thinkers, such as Laozi, and Western ones, such as Spinoza or Leibniz, but that there are such connections is, in my view, of historical interest only, and not of philosophical interest (philosophy as such considers only the positions and the arguments for them, and not who came up with them or when.) I think the same sorts of thing could be said about the connections between the thought of, say, Black Elk and other, non-aboriginal spiritual views. Given these considerations, i’m not sure how IT, if that means a certain species of traditional thought, intersects with philosophy.


In my courses I could discuss the encounter with any indigenous/ aboriginal culture as a way of testing the communicative competence of Western philosophical thought. But it would be very difficult to engage with any specific philosophical contents given how little I know about these cultures.



Not currently.


See above re. death.  (I teach mostly in the area of ancient greek philosophy otherwise. There, we discuss what it means to be a Greek or a ‘barbarian’, but indigenous thought is not a part of the discussion.)   I have started to think about the beliefs, stories, and traditions of indigenous people in relation to death (one of my areas of interest). In addition to the goal of better understanding what people think about, and do surrounding, death, my goal is to incorporate teachings into a course we offer on the philosophy of death.  I have also been learning about indigenous knowledge systems.  Certainly, I am not an expert in either area.



Phenomenology and especially Merleau-Ponty work to understand and learn from other forms of experience and thought than our own; and there is an understanding inMerleau-Ponty of the ways in which our environment and embodiment can shape our own perceptions, thoughts, sense of possibility—is there maybe connection there?  I’m not sure.
·         I have also taught classes on the Walls to Bridges, or Inside Out models, which use a pedagogy that has, I believe, been informed by indigenous circle processes. That’s not a connection in terms of content, but perhaps in terms of form? For more information, see http://wallstobridges.ca/what-we-do/ andhttp://www.insideoutcenter.org/



3. Everything I do now is influenced and shadowed by my attempts to understand colonialism, indigeneity, settlerhood and the like. I am finding it extremely rich because it requires me to rethink vast segments of myself, my history and my understanding of the world that I live in. It teaches me about the nature of selfhood, the role of identity, helps me to understand concepts of resistance and resilience, informs my understanding and appreciation of beauty - 


Not any more.  I spent 2 years cross-appointed in the Faculty of Education working on philosophy for children, and there was a lot of potential to develop stronger connections with indigenous scholars in education on both P4C and on eugenics and education.  But that appointment ran into independent problems, and the potential here wasn't realized.  Indigenous knowledge / epistemologies was one of the course structuring concepts in the curriculum there.



Methodologically, there has been a discussion within philosophy for the past few years about the nature of starting assumptions in philosophical theorizing and the implications of cross-cultural variation in these assumptions. This discussion has not been especially focused on indigenous (North American) ideas as opposed to broadly European ones--much research has been done in India and China, for instance--but it is certainly the kind of discussion that opens up interest in contributions from non-Western voices. I have taught a graduate course on this sort of discussion and I expect to do so again, and it would be great to have information about indigenous ideas as part of this territory.
Otherwise, I tend to teach ethics, both theoretical and practical. I imagine that there could be some sort of contribution from these areas to indigenous thought, and I wouldn't be surprised at contributions in the other direction too, especially given the remarks about method in the previous paragraph.


  1. ESTION # 4 - Do you work with any other faculty members in an inter-disciplinary manner who focus on indigenous thoughts or issues (i.e. Native Studies, English, Social Science departments in regards to indigenous issues?


  • These questions are either answered above, or pertain to folks who are still teaching in the university.
  • There are journals of comparative philosophy which make links between philosophical ideas in different cultures. The journal *comparative philosophy*edited by Bo Mou ​is an example. (I am on their editorial board, though I do very little work to justify being there.) As for contributing or taking part, I must decline, as my health is pretty poor and I am focusing my time and energy on projects I want to finish.
  • No, unfortunately, there is no such connection.

I tried to do that when I first started at the U of S in 1984, but disciplinary boundaries were pretty strict in those days. Late in my career, before I retired, the University was trying to promote that sort of thing, but what interest there was was limited to the pragmatic areas you mentioned.


I don’t want to repeat myself, but the points above (#1 and #2) are the only points of contact that occur to me.


I don’t do this much, but others in the department do so. 


I don't do any inter-disciplinary work, except for reading.


No


No.  But I do consulting on organizational ethics and have had opportunities to meet indigenous peoples on reserve in the past.  Today I work with police agencies but would be interested in working with indigenous police services.


As I mentioned above, Terry Dokis teaches a course in Native Philosophy, which counts towards credit in the Philosophy program.  But that's not a matter of me working in an interdisciplinary way with him.



4. I don't work with any other faculty in any interdisciplinary capacity on indigenous thought. It doesn't help that SMU does not currently have an Indigenous Studies programme.


. No, I don't work with anyone on these issues.

No


I'm not in the philosophy department here at UBC, so often when I reach out to folks who work on indigenous health issues they're often my colleagues in the the School of Population and Public Health. That said, at UBC, I've invited guest speakers for the classes on ethics of indigenous health I mentioned above. My main experience so far is that it is difficult to get people to do this, or in some cases even to respond. I do have a guest speaker this year who identifies as an indigenous person, but from Africa, not North America. 



 I don’t work with other faculty on interdisciplinary matters having to do with IT. It’s not that I’m against such things; in fact, i think they are important and interesting. One problem is that, at least at my university, to develop any courses or to pursue any projects whose focus is explicitly on or about or with IPs means agreeing to have such projects vetted by what is here called the Ogimaawin-Aboriginal Governance Council, an advisory body composed of University Management, Aboriginal Students, and several external Aboriginal organizations. I am not willing to submit any project to this sort of vetting (in no other area of study is any external body empowered to intrude upon academic freedom in this way,)  and so i don’t pursue such projects. Other problem I have encountered is that I have on several occasions proposed courses on Aboriginal Thought (both contemporary and historical), and have seen others propose courses geared explicitly to IP students (such as critical thinking through traditional stories or narratives), only to see such courses shot down as intruding on aboriginal prerogatives or because i am not myself an IP. Too many of my colleagues shy away from anything that smacks of anything indigenous for fear of being labelled insensitive or arrogant or racist. The field is therefore left open only to the very few IP faculty members that we have.


No


Not currently.

I am often engaged in discussion with members of our Indigenous Studies program, though I have not done formal research with them.

​No, sadly.


4. I am an interdisciplinary philosopher and work with a wide range of both academic and non-academic people. Social Justice Studies and Indigenous Learning at Lakehead are two academic units that I work with, but the women who run the traditional medicine and foods program at the Meno Ya Win Health Centre I also count as colleagues. The two healers that I spent time with are teachers, although I try to support them if ever they ask.


You know of Philosophy for Children Alberta, Eurekamp, and of EugenicsArchive.ca , I think, which are three projects with promise here that I've played leadership roles in.  In a formal sense, my work in each of them has ended, but of course I maintain the interests that inspired me to initiate each of them. 



  1. QUESTION # 5 What are some of your own thoughts, ideas, wishes that could contribute towards an idea of the nature of indigenous thinking and your particular work?  Or any projects in your university community that you are involved with.



  • These questions are either answered above, or pertain to folks who are still teaching in the university.


No, unfortunately, there is no such connection.



Two big things:
1. I've done work the precautionary principle and how we should value future generations. I'd really like to explore indigenous approaches to that, but don't really know where to start. I've read a bit about the 7 generations concept, but these tend to be fairly brief and superficial things on the Internet, and I've been unable to find sources that delve into this more seriously or deeply.
2. Since teaching the Public Health Ethics course, I've really been shocked about the paucity of serious philosophical work addressing the issue of justice in connection to the colonization and the health of indigenous people in North America. It's such an obviously major issue and so important for public health ethics in Canada, yet I've found almost no discussion of this topic in public health and bioethics literatures. In a sad way, this is not surprising, as it seems like a reflection of the general tendency to erase indigenous people, their histories, and the negative impacts of colonization. But I guess I naively thought that philosophers might have done a bit better here. My own view is that philosophers, and applied ethics specifically, have an obligation to redress this situation. I'm certainly willing to contribute to this myself, though to do so I'll need to collaborate with others who have more background in this area.


Again, aside from the pragmatic areas, I’d like to see some focus on epistemology, phil of religion (metaphysics) , and meta-ethical concepts (e.g. courage, moral wisdom)


The UBC Science and Technology Studies program has some potential in this direction.  Arts One is another program where there might be potential.


. Theories concerning nonviolent action, dialogue, consensus. But I am no longer an active researcher.


5. I was a member of the committee struck to establish the Indigenous Research Ethics Institute.  As I mentioned in one, an attempt to synthesize underlying indigenous values from the various first nations is an interesting project.  But I would not consider such a project without an indigenous collaborator.


I mentioned already some possibilities relating to my own work.  Frankly, I just don't know enough about indigenous philosophy right now to know how to answer this in more detail.


5. My wish is that I knew better how to find existing resources on indigenous thought. When I think about working towards building more indigenous thought into my courses, it's extremely difficult for me to know where to start looking. If I may be blunt, my training in philosophy left me completely unprepared for a project of indiginizing the philosophy curriculum. For example, I'd love to see an anthology or reader of indigenous thought -- something that could help orient those of us who are starting from no knowledge at all.


Carleton is a leader in aboriginal teaching and culture but I have not been part of that for twenty-odd years and when I was part of it, I was purely an administrator.



In general, I think of the history of philosophy mostly as a tool that helps us to recognize our own prejudices and that helps us to think about things in very different ways.  I am wondering whether indigenous ideas could be useful in that respect.



5. I don't think that a list of similarities and differences between ancient philosophy and indigenous thought is very interesting. In order to be philosophically interesting, I think that someone needs to make a case either that looking at indigenous thought sheds light on questions that Plato, Aristotle, etc. were dealing with or that looking at ancient thought sheds light on issues in indigenous thought. I just don't know enough about indigenous thought to say whether this is true.


5. For the above reasons, I don’t think I could contribute anything substantive to the project you are engaged on. 


5. I was raised and educated in other countries & cultures and I had very little exposure to these issues


None to share now.



Our university has a program for incorporating more indigenous content into our curriculum.  One has to apply for it.  I’m hoping that the funding for it will continue, and that we’ll have a chance to apply.
 


5. I am working on racism in all of its forms. The closest connections would be my interests in epistemic racism. Here the goal is to support the efforts to get settler academics to listen to Indigenous thinkers and to realize that there is an enormous amount to learn. As with point 1, I am a beginner, and so am happy to listen, and deploy the insights I get as part of my anti-racism work.


​I am supportive, but I don't think of myself as having the relevant expertise. 


​I really don't know, but this probably is due to my lack of knowledge of the characteristic concerns of indigenous thought.


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