"Top Five" Philosophy Works

Marilyn L. Sarelas Msarelas at AOL.COM
Thu Nov 18 17:52:08 EST 1999


I assisted with the bibliography for Ninian Smart’s World Philosophies (New 
York: Routledge, 1999).  The bibliography is divided by chapter headings.  In 
addition to the bibliographies for all the traditional philosophical settings 
(chapters on South Asian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Greek-Roman-Near 
Eastern, Islamic, Jewish, European, and North American philosophies), there 
are bibliographies for some of the modern non-Euro-American contexts 
(chapters on the philosophies of Latin America, Modern Islam, Modern South 
and South-east Asia, China, Korea and Japan in Modern Times, and Africa).  

If there are non-Euro-American contenders for your list of the top five 
philosophy books of the 20th century, some of them should appear in those 
bibliographies.  

Philosophy has been slow to expand into a global context, for reasons that 
are interesting to contemplate.  In the ancient setting the philosophical 
contributions of India and China are easily discerned.  The outstanding 
contributions to human thought in the 20th century--in a global context--are 
much more difficult to evaluate, and do not necessarily coincide with the 
value perspectives of philosophy departments.  But you have posed an 
interesting question.

The names which come to my mind representing modern Japanese philosophy or 
the major spiritual teachers of modern India cannot really compete with 
Wittgenstein and Heidegger in terms of innovative thought currents and impact 
on academia (however potentially flawed).  

I’m not sure what Rawls is doing in that list, and a few of the articles are 
certainly debatable.  But note also the problem of women thinkers...



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