The 169th Philosophers’ Carnival

The 169th Philosophers’ Carnival is online! Among several other interesting things, it has some lines on the interpretation of an alien Philosophy and on the Skholiast‘s contribution to the “doing philosophy in a polycentric world” debate (about which see also this post on the Indian Philosophy Blog).

For personal reasons, I am also happy to see also a link to Gabriele Contessa’s plea for a more inclusive policy of inclusion of philosophers who do not have English as their first language. Why should this be important? Apart from the fact that it is fair to include everyone, independent of their (race, gender, sexual preferences… and) native tongue, inclusion of different perspectives is part of the enterprise of ideodiversity, which is what we (=scholars of non-Western philosophies) are all engaged with, isn’t it?

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.

7 thoughts on “The 169th Philosophers’ Carnival

  1. Thanks for linking to Contessa’s post. His blog is quite interesting on the subject of being a non-anglophone in analytic philosophy, especially. A certain amount of English-language bias seems inevitable in that field, because its history has made it such a strongly English-language tradition (in much the way that, say, Nyāya is a Sanskrit-language tradition). Having said that, it’s remarkable the kind of backlash he received on his discussion of how non-anglophone philosophers were treated: http://yetanotherphilosophersblog.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-lcc-backlash.html

    If that is how analytic philosophers react to the attempt to include non-anglophones, one imagines analytic philosophy’s prospects for spreading outside the English-speaking world are… limited. I am hoping that the problems Contessa describes are much more muted among those who study Continental, Asian and comparative philosophy, given that (unlike analytic philosophers) we make non-English-language texts a central part of our philosophical experience. But as a native English speaker myself, it would be hard for me to tell whether that’s the case.

    We have (happily) a lot of contributors to this blog who are not native English speakers. What do you all think of the kinds of problems Contessa has observed? Are they the case outside of analytic philosophy?

    • Thank you for starting the discussion, Amod. I will start with my own and my colleagues’ experience:
      1) As you said, working on non-strictly Analytic philosophy has in this sense many advantages, since one does not need to repeat all the time that there is thought beyond the Oxford Dictionary.

      2) Nonetheless, we all experience the frustration of not being accepted (or not even taken into consideration) by our fellow philosophers and given that Analytic philosophy is at the time the (proudly) dominant trend in the Western world, not being able to master English further decreases one’s chances to even be heard.

      3) An element Native speakers usually forget is how much it COSTS to write in English for non-native speakers. Apart from the fact that we need more time to write, we all need to invest money in English lessons, English proofreading by a native speaker and often also English editing by a native speaker. Just to give you an idea, and leaving out English lessons (which are less easy to quantify), a colleague who is publishing an article in a book I am editing (and my expectations concerning English form, as you might imagine, are lower than those of “Mind” or “Nous”) paid 300 E for editing and then 100 E for proof-reading of her article. Some of us managed to raise funds also for those expenses, others barter English proof reading against something else or…just pay. We have said many times that Philosophy is a Rich People’s Game. But Philosophy for non-English native speakers is even more so!

  2. Just to pick up on a couple of things in Amod’s post: although I appreciate the point about the connection between the history of Analytic philosophy and its current Anglophone bias, I would say that its Germanophone origins make the Nyāya comparison awkward. Also, contrary to what a lot of people imagine, Analytic philosophy is in fact already pretty well-spread outside the native English-speaking world. It’s the main way of doing academic philosophy in the Scandinavian countries, Poland and Switzerland, it’s very well established at major universities in e.g. Paris and Barcelona, and it’s a fast-growing area of academic research in many other European countries, in China and in Latin America.

    • Robert, the diffusion of Analytic philosophy outside the English speaking world is exactly the problem! Analytic philosophy aims —like formal logic— at universalism, but still it risks (acc. to Contessa) to be too selective on the basis of the purely accidental fact of whether one has English as her mother tongue. This becomes even more paradoxical when the quantitative majority (or at least a very significant minority) of Analytic departments is located outside of the English speaking world. In my experience at the department of formal logic, to name a vyatireka example, my English was considered absolutely good enough, the rule being that “understandable is what we look for”.

  3. Elisa, my point – in response to Amod Lele’s comment that “analytic philosophy’s prospects for spreading outside the English-speaking world are… limited” – was only that it has already spread far beyond the native English-speaking world, and is still spreading! But now you mention it, I do disagree with you that this is the problem! The problem is surely that some (perhaps many?) within the discipline have a bias against non- native English-speaking analytic philosophers. If recent trends continue, it is difficult to imagine that these voices will not quite quickly become less relevant than they may be today.

    • Robert, I see your point. But still I hope that it will not take too long, since for the ones who are now non-Native speakers and struggle with having their work on Analytic philosophers published in good journals, the news that things will eventually change in, e.g., 50 years, may not be good enough.

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