APPENDIX 1 - Representational Answers for Question 3

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?

 Other than bad grammar, the purpose of this question is stated simply enough (hey there's a first for everything!) and that is how do professors link their course to indigenous content if the opportunity comes to present itself.   There were many "I don't know" answers in this section which is awesome cause the lack of answers implies the need for questions and I don't think we loose the message of the negative in this section about actual course connections to indigenous thoughts, philosophy or knowledge.  What follows are connections or linkages already being made in philosophy courses across the country.

CULTURAL RELATIVISM -this professor in particular was against the idea of using cultural relativism as a component of formal indigenous philosophy if I understood correctly.

UNIVERSAL HUMAN COGNITION - The line between universal human cognition and the ways of thinking that are influenced by the cultural group one grows up in.

 WAYS OF KNOWING - Which relates indigenous knowledge to issues in epistemology

  • and another professor noted:  "I could pursue that same interest but it would be difficult to do so within the context of a regular intro epistemology class."

 INDIGENOUS METAPHYSICS, ETHICS, POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY - have more noticeable areas of intersection with indigenous philosophy in the area of Environmental Philosophy.

ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS- "I would refer to some indigenous practices that honored 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....SO I am interested in the underlying indigenous values that guide your research concerns"...

  • Roy Perret -  , 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. 
  • [Possibilities around] trying 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 to develop a course eventually on social epistemology that would look, specifically, at the rationality community-decision making
  • Ian Werkheiser -

INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND HEALTH  - "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"

MODERN PHILOSOPHY - 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."

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.

  • Indigenous thoughts in regards to topics discussed in Greek philosophy - death being an example.


  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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 


  • Merleau-Ponty work to understand and learn from other forms of experience and thought than our own; and there is an understanding in Merleau-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 and


  • I spent 2 years .... 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....  Indigenous knowledge / epistemologies was one of the course structuring concepts in the curriculum there.

APPLICATIONS IN METHODOLOGY - 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


APPENDIX 3- Range of Answers Provided for E-mail questionaire - Question 3





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