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?

What is the center of Indian philosophy?

Karl Potter (Presuppositions of Indian Philosophies, see here) relates all Indian philosophical systems to the fact that they are goal-oriented and all seek mokṣa ‘liberation’. Jonardon Ganeri (in his History of Philosophy in India, with Peter Adamson) introduces the subject in a similar way (see here), speaking of the fact of seeking the “highest good”. As often the case, Daya Krishna disagrees:

The deliberate ignoring of [the] […] twentieth century discussion […] is only a symptom of that widespread attitude which does not want to see Indian philosophy as a rationcinative enterprise seriously engaged in argument and counter-argument in its long history and developing […]. This, and not mokṣa, is its life-breath as it is sustained and developed by it. Those, and this includes almost everybody, who think otherwise believe also that Indian philosophy stopped growing long ago. (The Nyāya Sūtras: A new commentary on an old text, p. 8)

What do you think? Is there a common core to all Indian philosophical schools?

Is the monologue also a dialogue?

No, taught Martin Buber, since a monologue lacks the dimension of Otherness. He was so adamant about that, that he even applied it to the case of God. Maurice Friedman (Martin Buber. The Life of Dialogue, p. 82) describes the relation of God and each single human being as follows:

If God did not need man, if man were simply dependant and nothing else, there would be no meaning to man’s life or to the world. ‘The world is not divine sport, it is divine destiny’.

Martin Buber’s own words (I and Thou, p. 82) are even more direct:

You know always in your heart that you need God more than everything; but do you not know too that God needs you—in the fullness of His eternity needs you? […] You need God, in order to be—and God needs you, for the very meaning of life.

Somehow, I am not surprised that Maurice Friedman participated in one of Daya Krishna’s saṃvādas (one can read the transcripts in Intercultural Dialogue and the Human image, Maurice Friedman at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts.

Dialog between Science and Philosophy: a new event

The event, sponsored by the Indian council of Philosophical Research, Delhi,  is scheduled to be held as a Discussion meeting  in the Poornaprajna Institute of Scientific Research, Bangalore from 25th Oct to 27th October.

The event is an outgrowth  of the ongoing Dialog between Science and Philosophy started  nearly a decade back in Nava Nalanda Mahavihara ‘Nalanda’ Bihar (for the past Nalanda Dialogs, please visit this link).

This Bangalore Event is actually a part of a current  project  motivated by  the lessons of the Nalanda Dialogs — a project entitled “Dialog across Traditions – Modern science and traditional Indian insight about Reality”.


In this event the organisers will  try to engage Indian philosophers of different schools  in a Dialog with science, will try to get the philosophers response to questions pertaining to different areas of difficulties related to foundation of science issues. Sample questions are already being distributed among the  philosophers after locating them mainly in places of traditional importance like Mithila, Varanasi and places in South India .

The process of locating scholars interested to respond to the issues are still going on.

For almost all details related to this Project as well as many events prior to the October Dialog, check this link. This site is being regularly updated to help keep track of the prior events that will lead to the Bangalore Dialog. The organisers will really appreciate suggestions  from readers about Areas of Indian Philosophy which can be better extended to meet the epistemological criteria of modern science (particularly Physical science, since the organisers come themselves from Physics).

The Indian ever-doubting quest for Truth

At times, it almost seemed blasphemous to say the things we said when the eternal flute of the Divine itself called to us every moment to give up the vain, empty, dry world of the intellect and the greeting of the ‘Rādhe Rādhe’ which remained us of the ecstasy of divine love. But amidst these enticements and allurements what sustained us was the unbelievably long, hard-core tradition of the ever-seeking, ever-doubting sāttvika quest for the ultimate Truth by the buddhi in the Indian tradition, which has never been afraid of raising the most formidable pūrvapakṣas against one’s own position and attempting to answer them.

(Daya Krishna, Bhakti, while discussing the saṃvāda on bhakti he organised at Vrindavan)

Human beings as animals

Humans are not animals according to Descartes’ distinction of res cogitans and res extensa. They are also not animals according to many Christian theologians (Jesus came to save humans, not animals). Perhaps humans are not (only) animals also according to the Aristotelian definition of human beings as “rational animals”, which attributes to humans alone a distinctive character. Humans are also quite different than animals when it comes to their respective rights. But here starts a moot point:


Some common prejudices about Indian Philosophy: It is time to give them up

Is Indian Philosophy “caste-ish”? Yes and no, in the sense that each philosophy is also the result of its sociological milieu, but it is not only that.
Is Indian Philosophy only focused on “the Self”? Surely not.