Should we have more dialogues, or more Asian philosophy?

Readers will have surely read the article by Garfield and Van Norden on The Stone concerning the need to either admit more philosophical traditions into the normal syllabi or rename departments as “Institute for the study of Anglo European philosophy” or the like.
However, someone might have missed Amod Lele’s rejoinder, here. He starts arguing that “Western Philosophy” is not as bad a label as it might look like and then concludes saying that the inclusion of Asian Philosophy, etc., in the curricula should be based on its relevance, not on the wish to be more inclusive, e.g., towards Asian American students.
On, Cosimo Zene explains, again in connection with Garfield and Van Norden’s article, speaks in favour of the necessity to study “World Philosophies”.
Following Amod’s arguments, one can, perhaps, decide that a certain philosophical tradition should not be included in the curricula because, unlike Indian philosophy, it is neither “great” nor “entirely distinct”. Cosimo, by contrast, seems to claim that dialog is an end in itself, since it “probes” one’s thoughts as well as on the basis of political and ethical reasons (what else could help us in solving moot political issues, if we are not trained in mutual understanding?).

What do readers think? Do we need more dialogues (with whatever tradition), more space for the great traditions of Indian philosophy, etc., or a little of both?

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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4 thoughts on “Should we have more dialogues, or more Asian philosophy?

  1. Similar discussions have happened in several other disciplines, including History (“world history” and “global history”), and so on.

    I was absolutely shocked when a colleague of mine at UCL, Vivian Nutton, published a book called simply “Ancient Medicine” that said not a word about India or China. It was solely about medicine in the Greek and Roman worlds. I realised that even for someone whom I met daily, and with whom I had many conversations, the ancient world really didn’t exist outside the eastern Mediterranean.

    • Many thanks, Dominik. What is your personal terminological choice? “World history”, “World histories”, “Anglo-European history”…? At least in the case of medicine, one can refer to allopathic medicine and avoid “Western”, isn’t it?

  2. There is no obvious reason to privilege the western canon over anything else. We get our philosophy where we find it, and the internet has an important role to play in changing the game whereby – at the moment – our philosophical commitments and dislocations are still very much governed by the rules of nothing more than a geographically conferred lottery!

  3. I am of the opinion that there should be more space for the great traditions of Indian philosophy, particularly those schools that have parallels in western philosophy. Take, for example, materialism. To many students it is a purely western phenomenon, beginning with Heraclitus and Democritus, and then jumping to Bacon, Shaftesbury, Diderot, and other French mechanical materialists, and finally to Feuerbach and Marx, with several others thrown in between and after. It is not widely known, even to the Indologists, that materialism had an independent origin in India and there were more than one philosopher, if not school, holding materialist views. Besides the Carvakas, there were materialists before the eighth century CE (the earliest ones are found mentioned in the old Tamil epic, ‘Manimekalai’). The denial of he immortality of the soul, hence of rebirth and the Other World was the chief point of contention of Indian Materialists. It is interesting to note that Dante places Epicurus, not in the first circle of Hell to which many Presocratics (some of whom were proto-materialists) are assigned (Inferno canto 4), but to the sixth circle, along with similar sinners, ‘who make the soul die with the body’ (Inferno 10.13-14). Thus the denial of the immortality of the soul is as much an essential part of proto-materialism (a heresy) in non-Indian cultures as in Indian.