Should we cancel Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche?
Unthinkable: Famous philosophers are being reappraised in light of their prejudices
Suki Finn, philosopher and editor of Women of Ideas: “The metaphysics of pregnancy is of great importance, not only to pregnant metaphysicians, but to all of us, given that we are all the result of a pregnancy.”
It’s easy to judge with hindsight but even by the standards of 1978, the BBC’s decision to call a series about great living philosophers Men of Ideas, despite it featuring a woman in Iris Murdoch, can only be seen as a case of everyday sexism. Yet the series has been acclaimed as a rare piece of programme-making which wasn’t afraid to deal with abstract issues in a way that assumed, as host Bryan Magee put it, “only interest and intelligence” on the part of viewers.
What should we do with Men of Ideas now? I bought a copy of the book accompanying the series in a second-hand book shop some years ago and its title stares down at me from the shelf like a guilty conscience. Does it need to be “cancelled”?