About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog: elisafreschi.com, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

4 thoughts on “Interpreting an Alien Philosophy

  1. Thank you for this, Elisa. I just read a review of a new book, which, while focused on interpreting Early Modern European philosophy, is still grappling with some of the issues that have really dominated our discussion of our own disciplinary self-conception as historian-philosophers. Not sure if this is the best thread to post it, but it is relevant to the kinds of concerns you discuss in your thoughtful post.

    http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/53123-philosophy-and-its-history-aims-and-methods-in-the-study-of-early-modern-philosophy/

    • Thank you, Matthew. I share your point and think that the discussion is pertinent and that the task of dealing with a chronologically distant thought is comparable to our problems while interpreting a geographically alien philosophy. Should we just “appropriate” other thinkers’ ideas and use them within our own philosophy? Yes, but 1) we have to be honest about what we are doing (like Ram-Prasad when he clearly distinguishes his interpretation of Jaina texts about perspectivism and his further development of their theory) and 2) we have to be aware that in this way we run the risk to miss something important, since we are just focusing on our purposes and could thus overlook important elements, just because they do not immediately seem to fit in our picture.

  2. Great post Elisa. I think one of the reasons to include non-Western (and other) texts in courses that typically end up in philosophy department curriculum is that helps us become aware of and potentially question how the subject matter is usually understood. (Like including Buddhist texts in a course on Philosophy of Religion like Ethan Mills does, for instance).

    Also, I appreciated your reference to academic work on disability in this context, which so often gets left out of these debates.

    • Thank you, Stephen. I am sure I am still missing something enormous and future scholars will laugh at me just like we point at scholars of the past who had no idea that, e.g., “democracy” in Athens still excluded women, foreigners, etc.

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