non-western philosophy as NOT philosophy

John Taber jataber at UNM.EDU
Wed Jun 6 21:50:23 UTC 2012


The idea that philosophy is a distinctively, even exclusively,  
European phenomenon finds systematic expression in the continental  
tradition (as Victoria Lysenko notes in her fine lecture): Hegel,  
Husserl, Heidegger, in particular. (Nietzsche was a special case.)  
Wilhelm Halbfass offers insightful and nuanced discussions of their  
views in "India and Europe," Part I. I think one of the best "proof  
texts" for this position is Husserl's "Vienna Lecture" (1935),  
contained as an appendix in "The Crisis of European Sciencs and  
Transcendental Phenomenology." (Perhaps Matthew Kapstein and Jonardon  
Ganeri mention this text as well; at the moment I am not where I can  
check.) It makes for interesting reading, especially when read  
together with the "Crisis"; certainly, it is not complete nonsense.  
The strength of Halbfass' work is that he is both critical of this  
tendency and determined to understand it. The disparaging of Asian  
thought in the analytic tradition is more anecdotal, and usually takes  
the form of complaining that Asian philosophy is lacking in worthwhile  
arguments, i.e., arguments that can be employed in solving problems in  
contemporary analytic philosophy. B. K. Matilal (the pioneer) and now  
many others have tried to dispell this impression, but I think with  
mixed results.

Yours truly,
John Taber
Philosophy Department
University of New Mexico

On Jun 4, 2012, at 9:51 AM, David Fiordalis wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> On Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 10:16 PM, <mkapstei at> wrote:
> Some Indology subscribers may be interested in the
> following, from the electronic edition of the New York Times:
> As someone who will be teaching an intro course called "Philosophy  
> East and West" this coming academic year, the article Justin Smith  
> published in resonated with me. I'm glad that Matthew  
> Kapstein posted it to this list.
> This may not be the most appropriate forum to ask, but given the  
> wide reading of the members of this list, maybe some will have good  
> suggestions to the following query. I'm currently looking for are  
> clear, accessible statements -- proof-texts if you like -- from  
> Western philosophical literature of the claim that non-western  
> philosophy (Indian, Chinese, Islamic, African, etc.) is not  
> philosophy or is otherwise lesser in some respect. Most often, this  
> is an implicit assumption or one easily follows. I'm looking for a  
> few choice quotes or short readings that will make an impact  
> undergraduates with little to no prior exposure to the issue.
> Thanks for any suggestions you might have.
> Sincerely,
> David Fiordalis
> Linfield College

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