This independent study looks at the formation of the United States and most of the Western nations’ current social institutions. To fully examine the creation of these institutions and the underlying principles in which they are upheld, I look at philosophy’s role, especially rationalism, and its significance to education and human development in having a fulfilled life. I looked at the way the United States’ dominant approach to education is based on a capitalist system of education that emerged from racist ideals, chattel slavery, exploitation, colonization, and imperialism. I will argue that in order to keep the established social order and oppress groups of people for pecuniary gains, capitalism values productivity rather than exploring human potential and human fulfillment, and social progress. The introduction section further explains my intentions.

In the second chapter, “A Malnourished Philosophical Perspective,” I examine philosophy’s role in the world. I contend that the rationalist standard of philosophy has been myopic and ostentatious in its ways of looking at the world and human beings. I maintain that this is the type of philosophy—the absolute idea that supposes philosophy done merely through a priori investigations—was partly used to form the misfortunes of the world (i.e., slavery, colonization) that I will describe in chapter 3. For reference, I will use philosophers such as Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant as prime examples in my discussion. I will, then, go on to consider other ways of doing philosophy that is based on the human lived experience and neglected human faculties.

In the third chapter, I will provide context for the dominant, present Western view on race. I argued that the enlightenment philosopher, those who purportedly brought light to the world through the expansion of human reasoning and scientific knowledge, also shaped our current ideas of racial hierarchies. Moreover, it was their philosophical work and lesser-known anthropological work that described what a person is and justified chattel, racial slavery, colonization, the genocide of Native Americans, and set the precedents for our current capitalistic social institutions.

In the fourth chapter, “Education Refined,” I discussed how education under capitalism has been aimed to marginalize and oppress groups of people. I relate this aim to the beginning of the capitalist system, the slave trade, colonization, the West's creation of “underdeveloped nations” in the world. I also examine the role of the subjects in this system of education and how they view the world. Lastly, I provided a notion of education centered around advancing human beings and enhancing their experiences.

In my conclusion, I consider more inclusive and honest ways to create social justice. I consider a substantial and adequate notion that uplifts the oppressed, I argue that the necessary change can only authentically take place if we get rid of certain conceptions of political correctness, to allow room for honest dialogue that will confront the root of social issues.


Mcbride, Lee




History of Philosophy | Other Philosophy | Philosophy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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