Indian philosophy as philosophy

Tracy Coleman tcoleman at COLORADOCOLLEGE.EDU
Mon Jun 4 19:41:34 UTC 2012

Whether or not people are vocal western supremacists, if you will, is not really indicative of pervasive biases, which are often revealed in curricula, in all-college requirements, in major requirements vs. "electives" (for programs at all levels), and in the disciplinary expertise of faculty in departments of philosophy and religion (not to mention history, political science, and etc.).  The program book of the AAR-SBL, moreover, makes very clear which religions are really worth studying and discussing among professionals; the number of sessions devoted to the so-called eastern religions is astonishingly small compared to the sessions devoted to Christianity by various names and specialized topics.  --Tracy Coleman, Colorado College
From: Indology [INDOLOGY at] on behalf of Walser, Joseph [Joseph.Walser at TUFTS.EDU]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 12:27 PM
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Indian philosophy as philosophy

When I came to Tufts in 1998, I was told that there was a member of the philosophy department who would often declare that "no cogent argument had ever been formulated east of the Bosphorus." The two people who reported this to me were reluctant to tell me who it was who said it, and I really did not want to know. All of this is to say that I have little doubt that there are still a few die hard "Westernists" (not sure what to call them) in the US at least. For what it is worth, I have not heard a peep of that kind of nonsense from our philosophers since I got here. I have, however, heard variations on the theme from professors in other departments. So I do think the basic points of Smith's essay are well worth saying.

Joseph Walser

Associate Professor

Department of Religion

Tufts University

From: Indology [INDOLOGY at] on behalf of Kellner, Birgit [kellner at ASIA-EUROPE.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE]
Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012 2:14 PM
Subject: [INDOLOGY] AW: [INDOLOGY] Indian philosophy as philosophy

I am wondering, though, to what extent the "no real philosophy to the east of the Suez" view is still advocated as a serious argument with real conviction (and thus still needs being addressed). This may vary between Russia and (for instance) Germany, of course.

My more recent experiences with philosophers who were reluctant to engage with philosophical ideas from India suggest that fatigue and practical difficulties have become more prevalent - "oh, it's all very nice, it's certainly real systematic philosophy what you are telling us, but I can't be bothered with it because the day only has 24 hours and there is really so much of interest in Western philosophy which I can access without having to learn a language as difficult as Sanskrit". I haven't met any philosopher who seriously believes there is no Indian philosophy in quite some time (or read anything to that effect). Apart from this, I'm also wondering how seriously we still should take such claims, should we encounter them. Shouldn't the burden of knowledge long have been shifted to the other side? Should philosophers not be made to feel embarrassed for having such gaping holes in their general education such as not knowing of one of the great philosophical traditions of the world?

Best regards,

Birgit Kellner

Prof. Dr. Birgit Kellner
Chair of Buddhist Studies
Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context - Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows"
University of Heidelberg
Karl Jaspers Centre
Vossstraße 2, Building 4400
D-69115 Heidelberg
Phone: +49(0)6221 - 54 4301
Fax: +49(0)6221 - 54 4012
Von: Indology [INDOLOGY at] im Auftrag von Viktoria Lyssenko [vglyssenko at YANDEX.RU]
Gesendet: Montag, 4. Juni 2012 16:39
Betreff: [INDOLOGY] Indian philosophy as philosophy

Dear indologists-philosophers,
While working at the Institute of philosophy I often come across europeocentrism as well as the arrogance of those of my colleagues who believe that philosophy is an exclusively Western phenomenon.  To make them change their mind or, at least, cast a glance beyond their horizon I have developed a number of apologetic arguments for Indian philosophy as a philosophy in its own right. Those who are interested may read the text of my lecture to a non-indological audience which is attached to this letter. I would like to suggest to those who have something to say on this subject to make a special issue of some journal (it is for you to decide which one).
With best regards,
Victoria Lysenko

Head of Oriental Department,
Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Sciences

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