I post here Matthew Haug’s NDPR review of the new Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology in order to highlight two things: (1) the decision by the editors of the Handbook not to include any non-Western philosophy or methodology; and (2) Haug’s extensive discussion of this fact, including the editors’ discussion of their decision (see the two paragraphs near the beginning, starting with “I’d also like to comment on the politically fraught issue…”). Interestingly, Haug himself says “Full disclosure: I edited a (less comprehensive) volume on philosophical methodology that also neglects non-Western traditions, for no good reason.” Clearly, he has come to regret that decision on his part.
The Student Union at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London) has issued their annual statement of their desired “Educational Priorities,” and one of them, “Decolonising SOAS: Confronting the White Institution,” has created a stir because of its demands concerning philosophy:
- “To make sure that the majority of the philosophers on our courses are from the Global South or it’s diaspora. SOAS’s focus is on Asia and Africa and therefore the foundations of its theories should be presented by Asian or African philosophers (or the diaspora).”
- “If white philosophers are required, then to teach their work from a critical standpoint. For example, acknowledging the colonial context in which so called “Enlightenment” philosophers wrote within.”
Media reports on this document have been full of hysterical criticism of “political correctness,” including a quote from Sir Roger Scruton announcing that “If they think there is a colonial context from which Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason arose, I would like to hear it.” Apparently Sir Roger is not familiar with Peter Park’s excellent book, Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy: Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830.
This column takes a more balanced view — noting in particular that the only degree in philosophy at SOAS is in “World Philosophy,” through the Department of Religions and Philosophies. Indeed, if one looks at the course of study for the BA in World Philosophy, it’s somewhat difficult to believe that the majority of philosophers studied aren’t already from “the Global South or its diaspora.”
In case you missed it, Nicholas Tampio recently published a short piece in Aeon explaining why he thinks Confucius (among other non-Western thinkers) should not be regarded as a philosopher, with implications for the philosophy curriculum and the makeup of philosophy faculties. This is a response to the recent New York Times piece by Jay Garfield and Bryan Van Norden. Tampio and Van Norden subsequently exchanged tweets on the topic. Amy Olberding replies thoroughly and with humor here, and Ethan Mills responds on behalf of Indian philosophy here.
Where to begin?
A New York Times piece on Nicholas Berggruen; the Berggruen Institute’s Philosophy and Culture Center has emerged as an important new source of funding and programming in our area. (Disclosure: I am on the Academic Board.)
In response to my posting about archiving my papers, Brian Bruya and I had a bit of correspondence about the differences among home-grown archive sites (like the “WesScholar” site I am using) and others, such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, PhilPapers, and perhaps others. Brian also pointed me toward this very interesting discussion of the pros- and cons- of various options. Just a couple days ago, a colleague in anthropology told me that in her field, it was very common to post everything — including PDFs of published articles, which I think violates the policies of most journals — on Academia.edu. The advantages in terms of ease of access are pretty obvious, although see the discussion referenced above for some downsides of just using Academia (or, perhaps, any single approach).
Brian himself uses a homegrown arching mechanism, as does Hagop Sarkissian:
I’d be interested in: (1) links to any other on-line sources of work in Chinese and/or comparative philosophy, and (2) any further thoughts about these topics.
Eric Schwitzgebel has published an Op-Ed in the LA Times entitled “What’s Missing in College Philosophy Classes? Chinese Philosophers.” If you are interested in more details about this subject, be sure to look at Brian Bruya’s article in the latest issue of Dao, “The Tacit Rejection of Multiculturalism in American Philosophy Ph.D. Programs: The Case of Chinese Philosophy.”
Dear Colleagues,The School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon invites applications from specialists in Buddhist Studies (Asian Buddhism) for a full-time tenure-track appointment at the Assistant Professor level, effective September 16, 2016. Teaching responsibilities are five courses per academic year.
This Friday there is a workship on non-Western philosophical traditions at Penn, co-sponsored by the philosophy department. It’s a shame this wasn’t publicized more, but here is the schedule for anyone who is interested. Continue reading “Penn Workshop on Non-Western Philosophical Traditions”
Funded by the Tang Junyi Lecture Fund and administered by the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures (ALC) and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies (LRCCS) at the University of Michigan, the Tang Junyi Postdoctoral Fellowship is open to scholars conducting well-designed research and writing projects on Chinese philosophy. One (1) fellow will be selected.
– Research topics can cover any aspect of Chinese philosophy and philosophical thought.
– Candidates must be able to provide evidence of successful completion of their PhD degree by June of the year of appointment and may not be more than seven (7) years beyond receipt of the PhD.
– Applicants who do not have native command of English must include the date and score of the most recent TOEFL examination or other evidence of proficiency in English (such as a degree from a US university or a letter from an academic advisor).
Given the energetic interest (e.g. here, recently) in academic book prices that are clearly pitched to institutional library collections and not for the average disposable income of individuals, I thought perhaps we could discuss this in a separate post and if we’re lucky, some of the blog readers who are in the publishing end could weigh in. At the very least, it might provide a forum in which to find out what goes into the decision to print a hardcover, library volume exclusively — I suppose something more illuminating than “there isn’t a market big enough for a softcover printing” would be nice. Comments from all sides are welcome.
Please keep comments civil — I know there is frustration out there but it may be constructive not to rage against the machine in this context.
Readers may be interested in this new blog:
This blog contains narratives of personal experiences, submitted by readers, of life in philosophy as a person of color. Some of these stories will undoubtedly be accounts of racial bias, whether explicit, unconscious, or institutional. However, other posts will be accounts of progress being undertaken or achieved.
This is a project of several philosophers of all colors, moderated by a group of philosophy faculty from a variety of institutions. It is partly inspired by the thoughtful conversations that grew up around the blog What is it Like to be a Woman in Philosophy.
We invite everyone to contribute. Many posts will be written by people of color in philosophy. But we hope that not all will be.
We plan to post a new story every day or as they are submitted. Please click on the ‘Send a Story’ link to submit a story anonymously.
I thought this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education may be of interest to readers of the blog (even while I am in no position to evaluate the historical claims made). Some highlights:
A particular weakness of many humanities canons remains their scant or nonexistent attention to material outside of Europe and North America, their historical dismissal of South Asian, East Asian, and African achievement due to ignorance and condescending Orientalism. Although philosophy is probably the worst among humanities disciplines in this respect, it’s hardly alone..
Over on his blog, The Splintered Mind, Eric Schwitzgebel wonders:
Why Don’t We* Know Our Chinese Philosophy?
(* “we” U.S.-based philosophy professors)
In 2001, I published a piece in the American Philosophical Association’s Newsletter on the Status of Asian & Asian-American Philosophers & Philosophies. In light of my recent reflections about the visibility of non-Western philosophy and philosophers, and especially this remarkable piece from an Asian-American who left philosophy, I thought I’d reproduce a revised version of the essay here. I’ve appended two new substantive notes at the end.
[Read his full post over on Splintered Mind. Discussion comments are welcome there or here.]
Congratulations to Prof. de Bary for this honor.
WASHINGTON (July 22, 2014) — President Barack Obama today announced the ten winners of the 2013 National Humanities Medals, awarded for outstanding achievements in history, cultural studies, filmmaking, cultural commentary, and historic preservation.
The medalists are: literary critic M.H. Abrams; historiansDavid Brion Davis, Darlene Clark Hine, and Anne Firor Scott; East Asian scholar William Theodore de Bary; architect Johnpaul Jones; filmmaker Stanley Nelson; radio hosts Diane Rehm and Krista Tippett; and the historical organization the American Antiquarian Society. The National Humanities Medals will be presented in conjunction with the National Medals of Arts at a White House ceremony on Monday, July 28, 2014.
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened our citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.
More info here.
A major, three-day conference on China’s “Middle Period” (800-1400) just concluded at Harvard. It featured an unusual format, designed to spur more cross-disciplinary conversation than is usual, as well as to handle the large number of papers and participants who were present. I believe there were something approaching 200 folks there, from graduate students to senior scholars. The titles, abstracts, and a range of on-line comments are all available here: http://www.middleperiodchina2014.org.
Nothingness in Asian Philosophy – Routledge 2014
by Douglas Berger (editor) & Jeeloo Liu (editor)
From the Description at Amazon:
“A variety of crucial and still most relevant ideas about nothingness or emptiness have gained profound philosophical prominence in the history and development of a number of South and East Asian traditions—including in Buddhism, Daoism, Neo-Confucianism, Hinduism, Korean philosophy, and the Japanese Kyoto School. These traditions share the insight that in order to explain both the great mysteries and mundane facts about our experience, ideas of “nothingness” must play a primary role.”
The American Philosophical Association deadline for committee nominations is MAY 31, 2014. There are a couple of openings on the Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies committee. If you are an APA member and you would like to nominate someone — yourself or someone other than yourself — for the committee, visit this site: https://nominations.apaonline.org/. Note that you must log into the site using your APA online username and password in order to enter a name and select a committee.
The American Fulbright Program is a scholar exchange program that brings scholars and students from overseas to the United States and sends scholars and students from the United States overseas.
There are a large number of programs for the countries of East Asia. If you are an American citizen and are a new university graduate (or will be next year), you are eligible for programs to teach English abroad or to engage in study/research programs. Professors should circulate this information to students.
If you are an American scholar, there are many research and teaching opportunities.
Awards generally cover all expenses (including airfare) and include stipends.
I have attached three introductory documents to this message.
You can find all of the programs here: http://www.iie.org/fulbright.
The announcements for the next round of programs have just come out. Many of the deadlines are August 1.
A new survey — which looks at perceptions of one another on the part of various US and Chinese “elite” groups as well as the broader populace — contains some fascinating data. Interesting to look at the views of “scholars” as opposed to other elite groups, though not surprising that we scholars are more likely to see one another as “partners” than as competitors or enemies. The various perspectives on the role(s) of “culture” as also broadly relevant to our concerns here.
If you work with early Chinese texts, you have probably used the Chinese Text Project (ctext.org), a wonderful on-line resource created by Donald Sturgeon some years ago while he was still a master’s student in Taiwan.
To many of us, within two or three years of its founding, ctext.org had become a more convenient and useful research tool than the online e-text resources created by large institutions such as Academia Sinica. As Donald has continued to expand the site’s functions — such as by adding a dictionary and concordance indexing — its utility has overtaken that of any rival Chinese text database, online or not.
Often, while working on a book chapter or essay, I have multiple browser windows open displaying different pages of content from ctext.org. I’m sure many others in the field use the site the same way.
All that useful content takes up a lot of server resources, however, which someone has to pay for. For years now, that someone has mainly been Donald himself. He’s had a few welcome anonymous donations and a handful of short-term sponsors, but by and large the costs for the site come out of his own pocket. And that’s not counting all the time and programming expertise that he’s put into it.
So a graduate student living on a modest stipend in one of the world’s most expensive cities is paying for a valuable research tool that all of us use.
May I suggest that those of us who can afford it — not graduate students, but professors and other interested readers — consider donating to support the site’s operations? You can do so through Paypal on the site’s support and donation page here. To those of us who visit the site frequently, the Chinese Text Project is worth much more than the cost of a book and probably more than the cost of most of the software on our computers. So why not consider donating an amount equal to the price of a book or a software package to support the continued operation and growth of this invaluable resource?
And if you’re in a position to do so, consider arranging for an institutional subscription to or sponsorship of the site, as described here.
This is a project that deserves our support.
— Chris Fraser
Some information for professors (U.S. citizenship) who might be interested.
I met today with the executive director of Fulbright Taiwan and the chair of the Department of Philosophy at National Taiwan University, where I am currently doing a teaching Fulbright. Both of them expressed the sentiment that this is a good association and that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship would be well-served by continuing it. Fulbright depends on the initiative of applicants, however, rather than putting out calls for participation. So they can only accommodate a philosopher if a philosopher applies. A special interest was expressed for political philosophy, especially related to the potential democratization of China. (I’m teaching American Pragmatism and Comparative Moral Psychology–at the graduate level.) They both thought it would be a good idea to get the word out on this blog.
Though this is not explicitly about Chinese or Comparative philosophy, some issues about the clash between Singapore and ideals of Western liberalism arise because of Singapore’s social policies that are authoritarian and, because of that, sometimes coded as Confucian. The AAUP authors below raise questions about the wisdom of collaboration and accommodationism by Yale University with an “authoritarian regime” and argue that what is at stake are “not simply ‘cultural differences’ but whether Yale recognizes universal human rights and the protections for academic staff.”
I’m inclined to say that cultural differences are not so simple and that they might problematize the recognition of “universal human rights.” Not that the existence of cultural differences negates the existence of universal rights, but that they pose an epistemological question about how much confidence, relatively speaking, the West should place in some of the freedoms as being universally owed to people simply in virtue of their humanity. That’s a long, theoretical discussion, in which it helps to specify which purported rights are universal in such a way.
I’m mostly interested here in the practical wisdom of a hardline “all or nothing” approach the AAUP authors seem to be arguing for below. That is, they seem to be arguing that Yale should keep its hands spotlessly clean by staying out of a collaboration altogether if a rather long list of guarantees cannot be met fully at the proposed Yale-NUS campus. (Here is the link to the UNESCO recommendations referenced below.)