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« Reader query: a job-market quandary | Main | Call for Papers: Linguistic Justice and Analytic Philosophy »

10/18/2016

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Rob

Take the first option: Persuade philosophers that historical non-Western figures used philosophical methods and thus count as philosophers.

If you want these figures to be regularly taught, you will also need to persuade colleagues in the profession that these figures' work is philosophically important in some way. Did they produce sound arguments for interesting conclusions? Did they produce unsound arguments that nonetheless contain important insights or that fail in intellectually illuminating ways? Did they influence later debates in ways it is valuable for students to know about?

The second option, expanding the definition of the enterprise of philosophy, is bad. Philosophy has distinctive methods of pursuing knowledge. It is important both for the intellectual integrity of our work and for the institutional survival of our discipline to recognize that philosophy has distinctive methods of inquiry.

Elisa Freschi

Thanks, Rob, also because you are the first among the ones who replied me who actually engages with my question.

I see your point and this is more or less what I have been doing until now. In fact, this is also what scholars like Peter Adamson, J. Ganeri, B.K. Matilal, E. Thompson, C. Coseru, M. Siderits, J.N. Mohanty, and so on… have been doing. All of them (of us, si parva licet componere magnis) have been showing (in a compelling way, I would say) that philosophers such as Kumārila produced sound arguments and interesting conclusions (e.g., on the topic of the epistemology of linguistic communication). This makes me think that the lack of consideration is more an a priori than something due to the actual fact that scholars have failed to show that all that you say applies.

Then there is the second problem: Suppose I manage to convince logicians that they really cannot think about logic without taking into account Dharmakīrti's theory of syllogism. If they would accept him and then shut the door to any other, not so much would have been gained for the discipline, who would continue to neglect important contributions.

This being said, I am not a political activist and I personally believe in the power of incremental change. I will thus continue to try hard (but will not forget that resistances might be more psychological/sociological/political than intellectually motivated).

elisa freschi

A comparative philosopher sent me this comment:

"Well, what you say: 'Or should we rather uncover the normativity of the discourse and call for a broader definition of the enterprise of philosophy?' is what I think our job as cross-cultural philosophers is.
Unfortunately, for large stretches of time, many of us our caught up emulating what the mainstream understanding of philosophy tells us to do."

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