Why should one engage in non-Western philosophical ideas? Two examples

A few days back, I discussed (here) why one should test one’s logical hypotheses against something alien, be it a Medieval paradox or a Sanskrit text (or anything in between).

Today, I came back to the same thought while reading Adriano Mannino’s post about the diffusion of theism among philosophers of religion. Adriano discusses the worries of some philosophers who think that “philosophy of religion” is in fact a disguised Christian apologetic and is, therefore, not philosophical at all. Personally, I think that apologetics can be (and often are) philosophically interesting, but should philosophers of religion want to reply to this attack, they could try to engage in religions and theologies different than their own or at least different than the Christian one. (By the way, if you are looking for an excuse to start doing it, have a look at this call for papers).

What are your favorite examples of the need of engaging with non-Western, non-contemporary, non-mainstream philosophical ideas?

 

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.

24 thoughts on “Why should one engage in non-Western philosophical ideas? Two examples

  1. Elisa, This topic, or others close to it, has come up a couple of times over at the New APPS blog. One thing noted there (and first at Daily Nous) was that many folks believe, rightly, I think, that “most philosophy of religion is Christian apologetics in disguise,” so the worry noted here is widespread (leaving aside those dismissive of most philosophy of religion as a waste of time). At one post, Jon Cogburn asked about possible syllabi and/or textbooks that would overcome “the lack of engagement with non-Western philosophy in Western departments,” as well as “focus…on broader epistemological and ethical/socio-political questions (as well as metaphysical and meta-metaphysical questions beyond the simple ‘does x exist?’ kind) arising from philosophical reflection on religion.” In response, I proffered the following (there are of course other possible titles, including ones outside Asia, but I didn’t want to scare everyone away with a large list):
    • Angle, Stephen C. Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
    • Cottingham, John. The Spiritual Dimension: Religion Philosophy and Human Value. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
    • Coutinho, Steve. An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
    • Dasti, Matthew R. and Edwin F. Bryant, eds. Free Will, Agency, and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
    • Kupperman, Joel J. Learning from Asian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
    • Leaman, Oliver. Islamic Philosophy: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2nd ed., 2009.
    • Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi. Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Outline of Indian Non-Realism. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002.
    • Sharma, Arvind. The Philosophy of Religion: A Buddhist Perspective. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995.
    • Siderits, Mark, Evan Thompson, and Dan Zahavi, eds. Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological and Indian Traditions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    • Smart, Ninian. Reasons and Faiths: An Investigation of Religious Discourse, Christian and Non-Christian. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958.
    • Smart, Ninian. The Philosophy of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
    (Although it assumes a largely theistic perspective, there’s much to be learned about religious experience and knowledge outside of theism as well from James Kellenberger’s The Cognitivity of Religion: Three Perspectives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985.)

    It is a bit disconcerting to recall that Ninian Smart raised concerns along these lines at least as far back as 1958 (cited above) in his Reasons and Faiths (Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd.), and addressed them again in the last title listed here. Things have not changed much since! And I agree that apologetics can be philosophically interesting, it’s just that so much that falls under the heading of philosophy of religion is still perhaps best described as apologetics, especially insofar as it blithely ignores non-Western (or non-Abrahamic) traditions.

    Helen De Cruz of New APPS asked, “Do western philosophers eschew non-western philosophical views because they think they are inferior, lacking in rigor? Or is it mainly a matter of ignorance?” I replied (I may have said this here before: if so, forgive me): I’d say both reasons are applicable, separately and in combination (e.g., the belief in inferiority or lack of rigor is one forged in deep ignorance). And there’s more than a little irony involved in the case of Indian philosophy, as the late Michael Dummett made clear in a talk he gave in 1992 at the commemoration held on the first anniversary of the death of Professor B.K. Matilal at All Souls College, Oxford. Dummett rightly points out that “the Indian religions, at any rate–Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism–are, in their essence as religions closer to philosophy than the Western religions, which I take to be Judaism, and its successors, Christianity and Islam. If you look at the Old Testament [TANAKH, or the Hebrew Bible], the New Testament, and the Koran, you will find in them very little, if anything[!], that could be called philosophical writing or in any philosophical style,…whereas in the Indian scriptures there is much that is of a philosophical character or touches very directly upon a philosophical style of thought.” Matilal of course was a trailblazer when it came to the employment of “analytic” skills to Indic philosophy of religion, needing to overcome in the endeavor, as Heeraman Tiwari says, not only the ignorance of Western philosophers, but the “prejudice of Western Indologists and Orientalists.”

    The quote from Dummett is found in Tiwari’s introduction to Bimal Krishna Matilal’s Logical and Ethical Issues: An Essay on Indian Philosophy of Religion (New Delhi: Chronicle Books, 2004; first published under a slightly different title in 1982 by the University of Calcutta).

    • Thank you for this very interesting comment, as usual, Patrick. I agree with your answer to Helen (ignorance with a camouflage of disrespect or disrespect due to ignorance are the rule). As for the specific issue of philosophy of religion/theology/apologetics, there is surely the problem of coming to terms with a field which is not given independently of its history. We are not speaking of comparing our views of, say, astronomy, but of a field which in the West emerged out of “theologia rationalis” and has necessarily had a different history in different parts of the world and in different milieus. But this specificity just makes more apparent the problems we do indeed have even while comparing epistemological treatises.
      Thus, a historical perspective is unavoidable and “comparative philosophy of religion” is one of the cases in which reflection entails self-reflection and philosophy entails and is entailed by its history.

  2. Over at Warp, Weft and Way, there’s notice of a new book by James F. Peterman: Whose Tradition? Which Dao? Confucius and Wittgenstein on Moral Learning and Reflection (SUNY Press, 2015), which would appear to exemplify more than philosophy of religion but rather, and provocatively, “philosophy of worldviews.”

  3. “If you look at the Old Testament [TANAKH, or the Hebrew Bible], the New Testament, and the Koran, you will find in them very little, if anything[!], that could be called philosophical writing or in any philosophical style”

    This comment is utterly unfair. I don’t want to be the advocate of any apologetics or philosophy of religion, but to anyone who is relatively educated it becomes immediately clear that the comparison shouldn’t be between a whole religious tradition (Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism) and what Indologists would call a root-text of a given tradition, in this case the New Testamente and the Koran. Let’s make the reverse example: if you only look at the Ṛg-Veda, you’ll probably have to use a magnifying glass to find traces of well-developed philosophical thought. If you look at the Brāhmaṇas, you start finding more, and then if you start reading Mīmāṃsā works, well then you have it. Even in my total ignorance of Medieval Christian and Arabic theology and philosophy, I’m sure that both are as deep and developed as the Hindu, Buddhist or Jain philosophical traditions.

    I think you are missing the point. It’s not about scholarly attitude, and I’m sorry if I’m being blunt, but let’s state the obvious: it’s a matter of power and money. How many chairs of Indian or Chinese philosophy are there in Western universities worldwide? And how many are there for Greek philosophy etc.? In the run for money and financial support, of course the most powerful and established Wetern scholars of Western thought try and maintain their positions by diminishing other cultural traditions. You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but you all know that’s about power and money. As to the money, it’s clear what I mean. As to the power, let me ask you a question: do you really believe that in a broader cultural and political context anybody is willing to seriously challenge the so-called Western cultural supremacy? I believe not.

    • It seems I am (and in good company!) a member of the class of those not even “relatively educated,” but that won’t prevent me from arguing that not without ample reason has it been demonstrated that philosophizing in the Jewish tradition was utterly beholden to Islamic philosophy which, in turn, grew out of the encounter with (translation of) and reflection upon Greek philosophical writings. And Christian theology is unthinkable without both the Greek philosophical tradition and Islamic philosophy and theology. Indian philosophy of religious provenance, on the other hand, has a predominantly internal philosophical motivation and trajectory, similar to philosophizing in the ancient Greek world, hence one does not find the discrete developments of (or anything quite similar to) “theology” and “philosophy” in the Indic traditions. The embrace of sophisticated philosophizing within Hinduism (and Buddhism and Jainism) lacks its counterpart in the Abrahamic theistic traditions, plain and simple. Hence too, the remarkable findings and discussion in Thomas McEvilley’s The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies (2002). One can’t fault Hinduism for the fact that the scope of its most significant and “foundational” texts is a bit broader than the Rg Veda and far richer and more philosophical than the most comparably positioned (structurally and genetically speaking) important (‘sacred’) religious texts in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

      • “It seems I am (and in good company!) a member of the class of those not even “relatively educated,” but that won’t prevent me from arguing that not without ample reason has it been demonstrated that philosophizing in the Jewish tradition was utterly beholden to Islamic philosophy which, in turn, grew out of the encounter with (translation of) and reflection upon Greek philosophical writings.”

        True, but that doesn’t mean that there is no interesting philosophical development in Hebrew philosophy, nor in Islamic philosophy, as in fact your very statement confirms: the fact that the “Jewish tradition was utterly beholden to Islamic philosophy which, in turn, grew out of the encounter with (translation of) and reflection upon Greek philosophical writings” doesn’t imply that these two philosophical traditions didn’t produce any relevant philosophical work. It merely states that both traditions are greatly indebted to Greek philosophy. In fact, as a “relatively educated” person, you immediately broadened the scope of the quote used by you and reached beyond “the Old Testament [TANAKH, or the Hebrew Bible], the New Testament, and the Koran.” What I said it’s merely that the quote was unfair, nothing more. And you confirmed my point. Sorry if I sounded as though I wanted to provoke, it’s just that I’m not an English native speaker and I didn’t realize the purport of the expression “educated person” in this context.

        “And Christian theology is unthinkable without both the Greek philosophical tradition and Islamic philosophy and theology.”

        True again.

        “Indian philosophy of religious provenance, on the other hand, has a predominantly internal philosophical motivation and trajectory, similar to philosophizing in the ancient Greek world, hence one does not find the discrete developments of (or anything quite similar to) “theology” and “philosophy” in the Indic traditions.”

        Tell me one good reason why you can take the whole Indian tradition as a single object, while you easily take apart the Greek, Hebrew and Islamic philosophical traditions, considering them as separate entities? First you follow a geographical/religious argument, and separate the last three cultural traditions (I take that by Greek you mean both the classical Greek philosophy as well as its Christian developments in late antiquity), but when it comes to India, you take together the Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina traditions under the broad definition of “Indian philosophy of religious provenance.” Well, following your line of thought, couldn’t one think that also the Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina traditions are re-elaborations of each other, pretty much like in the case of the Greek, Hebrew and Islamic philosophical traditions? Where do we draw a line? I might as well think of Western philosophy (in the sense of the philosophy developed in countries west of South Asia) as a whole, pretty much as you do for Indian philosophy, and then see the Hebrew and Islamic traditions as development of one big stream starting with Greek philosophy. I don’t know if I’m being clear about what I mean.

        Moreover, I kind of expected a comment on the second part of my comment, the first part was actually less relevant to me (I don’t like the Greek “oikistes approach,” I don’t care who invented or discovered what first, let alone who invented philosophy as such).

        Anyway, a warning: if my comments sound rude, I apologize in advance. You know, I’m probably a rude person, but at least in a face to face conversation one would see that I’m smiling. (If you prefer, I could use emoticons to disambiguate).

  4. No, I did not confirm your argument and you’re making new ones that I’m not inclined to address. I didn’t “broaden the scope of the quote” but defended it with further explanation and argument: you’re being a bit obtuse on this score. Nor did I “take the whole Indian tradition as a single object.” You are not a careful reader of what I wrote and for this reason, and the fact that I prefer not to carry on debates with anonymous interlocutors I will end my part of the discussion, leaving it to others to chime in should they wish.

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to be anonymous, I just used a nickname (it is actually easy to guess who I am by just clicking on my nickname). I just changed the name, so you now who I am. Anyway, I don’t understand why you didn’t just say that I misunderstood your point. Moreover, I also added a small but important remark, namely “I don’t know if I’m being clear about what I mean.” Apparently I wasn’t, but alas, I have to reckon I’m an obtuse writer too.

      Please forget about the first part of my comment, and if you still think it’s worth to answer a question of an obtuse reader, I would appreciate to know your opinion about the question of power and money—for I really think it’s better to discuss rather than to close a discussion. I have personally learned a lot today by reading your comments, sorry if the opposite doesn’t apply.

  5. Sometimes I think the field known as “philosophy of religion” might as well be called “philosophy of Christian theism.” When I taught an introductory philosophy of religion course I included some Upaniṣads and Early Buddhism as well as Nyāya theism and Buddhist atheism. This was hard for some students, but many of them seemed eager to expand their horizons. Besides, philosophy is all pretty weird for beginning students.

    I also think Indian religions are great to include when considering the question, “What is religion?” Most Western people basically equate theism and religion, which isn’t surprising in cultures shaped by Abrahamic traditions, but that view simply doesn’t apply very well in Indian or East Asian contexts or in places with animistic religions.

    We learn something about religion itself and philosophical issues concerning religious experience and so forth by considering non-Western traditions. If we want to have any business calling a field “philosophy of religion” we need to discuss more than one or two religions.

    A similar story could be told concerning other philosophical issues in epistemology, ethics, freedom/determinism, and personal identity. On the latter issue, I would think philosophers would be interested to learn how Buddhists have out-Humed Hume for thousands of years!

  6. We’ve gotten away from Elisa’s post a bit, but. . .

    Re: caf57’s point about Dummett, there’s much truth in this.

    Yes, when we pick out, say, the Bhagavad-gītā or the sermons of the Buddha, we find philosophical themes that range beyond the mere moralism of much of Western scripture. But people like Dummett, whose intentions are great, somehow treat “Hindu Scriptures” as a single thing, since they aren’t familiar with them. Contrastingly, they are able to pick apart the historical influences on Western religious texts with which they find themselves culturally more familiar. If they had the same competence with Indian scriptures, perhaps they would be able to engage in such a practice there.

    Moreover, the correct comparisons require other sorts of sophistication with the pools from which both relata come. You don’t compare the Yoga-sūtras to the Gospels; you compare them with John Climacus’s Ladder of Divine Ascent.

    It is a good point to note.

    (I also respect your concern not to come off in the wrong way, which is too easy on the Internet.)

    If we want to be uncharitable to everybody equally, the Vedas are not philosophical in our sense of the term. And these are the fundamental scriptures of what we call Hinduism. Maybe the Hindu tradition is lucky enough to count many, many texts as scripture, with a more fluid way of determining what counts as such, where the Christian tradition has a more fixed canon; Augustine’s Confessions, for example, would not count as scripture proper. But if they could, a Christian could hold them up and say “look here.”

    One other question. I am not a Christian, and have no stake in this, but it seems like bad-faith mongering to lay these accusations toward people doing philosophy of religion. Let me know if the following line of reasoning makes any sense:

    Maybe, these people do philosophy of religion and are Christian, and use their philosophical tools to make sense of the traditions with which they are familiar. If so, they are no different from most philosophers with some real stake in what they do. Recently, there was an article in Philosophy East and West on how to be an “Activist-scholar” in dialogue with Rumi. Is such a scholar, perhaps advancing causes to which we are more sympathetic, immune to such criticism? Are they just philosophers who are passionate about something, and some of their work is directed toward understanding and advancing what they think true? Or are they somebody who is really just doing apologetics for their own cherished political group and worthy of suspicion? If we should be suspicious of the Christian philosophers, we should be suspicious of these activist-scholars too, right? You can’t have it both ways, can you?

    Ultimately, the issue of most Philosophy of Religion being very Christian in tone seems to be the very thing Elisa pointed out above, and sadly of a kind with how Philosophy is often treated as “Western” by default. I think you are right, Ethan, that they should at least gesture toward a bit more global awareness on the part of their students, even if they don’t feel competent to teach non-Western thought.

  7. I completely agree with Matthew Dasti when he asks the question “If we should be suspicious of the Christian philosophers, we should be suspicious of these activist-scholars too, right? You can’t have it both ways, can you?” That was actually my point when I asked about power games in academia (and beyond). I a certain sense—forgive me Elisa if I say it—when we try and demonstrate that Indian or Chinese philosophy is worth the name and it should be taught in school or university like any other philosophical tradition, we are also activists. The only difference is that scholars of so-called exotic or small subjects like South Asian studies represent a minority, they are confined in a sort of Indian reservation (forgive the pun). If they want to expand the territory of their reservation, they invariably have to fight to conquer it, be it in terms of access to funding, posts at universities or academic attention.

    I’m sorry that we got away from Elisa’s post and question, but that’s how it works sometimes in discussions. And thanks to Matthew Dasti for reminding us of it, and for understanding how difficult it is to convey not only ideas, but emotional attitudes on the internet.

  8. Thank you for your response. I would like to add one thing about the idea that even *we* are activists of a sort.

    I have some worries when the “activism” side dominates the “scholarship” side.

    That is, if the idea is “My work is so (fill in the blank: “pious”, “socially just”, “devoted to the workers of the world,” “devoted to the glory of Christ”) that it should be taken seriously, it isn’t really primarily scholarship anymore. It is doing something else, and maybe something worthy, but not what you mean when you say we are “activists” I would think. Frankly, I wonder whether this mixture has led to some problematic trends in the academy–perhaps more on the level of pedagogy than research– I think it runs the danger of producing less critical thinking, not more (again, thinking more about pedagogy than research.).

    I think that a way we can be called activists in a way that is apt is simply that through our “pure” scholarship, unearthing Indian thought and culture, along with work illustrating the the power dynamics that perpetuate mistaken ideas of a certain limited notion of Philosophy, we hope to effect a very specific change: that people in the academy and beyond see how much relevant good work was going on in the non-Western–in our case–Indian world.

  9. Well, we went off topic, but since the discussion is interesting, I will add one more comment. When I say activists, I mean something that is in-between “my work is so (fill in the blank) that it should be taken seriously” and pure scholarly work. It’s difficult to explain, but I guess that everybody among us thinks her or his work is somehow relevant for humanity in some form. My small contribution is for instance to provide scholars of South Asian studies with tools for a better understanding of manuscript primary sources. It’s a small contribution, but I see myself as a “manuscript activist”, in the sense that I think that by providing a better access to this kind of material I help scholars and anyone who is interested in Indian thought to improve their knowledge, so that they can better explain to “people in the academy and beyond […] how much relevant good work was going on in the […] Indian world.” In this way, I hope to contribute to create a better world, in the sense that I somehow help others understand South Asian culture in order to fight racist and chauvinist ideas. So, I’m a sort of activist too—or maybe I’m just fooling myself.

    • Camillo, as you might have sensed already, I am a Weberian myself and I tend to think that ideas do change the world and not the other way round. Thus, I do not think money- and power-established paradigms cannot be changed because of the strength of ideas. Think of how much more influential are Tibetan Buddhism studies if compared to Sanskrit studies, although Tibet is politically irrelevant or rather a nuisance.

      • Yes, I get your point, and agree completely. As a matter of fact, though, you are implicitly saying that yes, it’s a matter of power—in this case, cultural and partly political power. I can tell you a very instructive story about how the Institute for Indology and Tibetology in Marburg was saved from closing because of a political decision that had to do with the cultural influence of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, if you’re interested.

  10. Thanks for this post, Elisa, and all the comments from everyone else (especially Patrick for that great list of books). I’m interested not so much in comparative philosophy as comparative political thought/theory, specifically in terms of Indian and “Western” thought regarding the international/global. While I am happy comparative philosophy seems to be taking off in recent years, I wish the intensity was the same in political science/theory. If anyone has some good thoughts/resources regarding any of this, I’d be very appreciative

    • That’s a great question, Anthony. I was recently reading Fred Dallmayr’s introductory anthology on comparative political theory and found that while the writings on East Asia were quite good, those on South Asia were… not. That’s a pattern I find in other places, too.

      I might go out on a bit of a limb and say that, historically, there just hasn’t been all that much political philosophy, relatively speaking, in India. Part of this may be because so many Indian thinkers were in renouncer traditions that rejected political involvement (see my article in Journal of Buddhist Ethics, or my post about justice on this blog.)

      I noted that most of the papers on Indian political philosophy in Dallmayr’s anthology referred either to the Arthaśāstra (a text obscure enough that we really don’t know if it was ever put into practice) or to Rammohun Roy and Jawaharlal Nehru, whose political philosophies were based almost entirely on Western sources. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, but it will disappoint people looking for a “distinctly Indian” political philosophy. For the latter, the one really clear source is Mohandas Gandhi (one could add Aurobindo Ghose along with him)i; in premodern times, I suspect one is most likely to find it in the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana, and it can be tricky to distill a coherent set of ideas and arguments from those texts (especially the MBh). There have been a number of people doing constructive political work thinking with Gandhi, but beyond that I think the literature is relatively thin on the ground.

      • Thanks, Amod. Those have been my general findings as well. One of my questions is whether there is no “Indian political philosophy/theory” because the West has colonized the very notion of what “political” entails.

        • I suppose if one were to make a claim like that it might have less to do with the notion of the “political” than of “philosophy/theory”: especially, to what extent do the epics count as philosophy or theory?

          I was thinking about using the Śāntiparvan of the Mahābhārata to teach political philosophy in my introductory Indian philosophy class, since there are certainly a great number of political ideas in it. But I soon realized that, as with dharmaśāstra, there is little to no explicit reasoning attached to the ideas; it is simple injunction, do this and don’t do this, which has little power to affect those who do not already buy into it. I suspect there’s better political wisdom to be found in the narrative portions than the didactic ones, but it’s harder to weave those into a philosophy course. It may be for similar reasons that the Pañcatantra and Hitopadeṣa have been much more widely read than the Arthaśāstra, texts with similar messages.

          • Wouldn’t one way of approaching the Śāntiparvan in such a course be to have students consider the values underlying those injunctions? That’s been part of my approach in my research, and also how I have students think about the ethical content of the Bible in ethics courses.

        • It may have more to do with the notion of “philosophy” than “politics”, and the division of labor in classical India.

          It seems that, for whatever reason, when we look for philosophy in India, the people we find doing recognizable “philosophy” tend to do things like epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics etc., and seem content to leave political theorizing to the dharmaśāstras, arthaśāstras, epics, and similar sorts of texts along their commentators.

          Happy to be corrected on this.

          EDIT: Amod said everything I say here with more detail above! That’s what I get for responding before checking the existing responses.

    • Tonnes of Indian Political philosophy: it’s everywhere in formal Indian philosophy. First, I’m operating with a pretty standard account of political philosophy: questions pertaining to the legitimate use of force. Political philosophy so understood is different from (but related to) ethics. Certainly you find these issues discussed in literature outside of formal philosophy. It has been noted that there seems to be at least two schools in India: the real politik school of the Arthashastra, and the Moral Realist schools (e.g. the Mahabharata) that ties the legitimate use of power to ethical (dharma) considerations.

      In formal schools of Indian philosophy these issues can be found addressed in texts in the Buddhist, Jain, Purva Mimamsa and Yoga traditions. These schools tend to be of the moral realist persuasion.

      The Yoga Sutra in its discussions of the Yama rules is especially colorful in its depiction of political issues.

      I put a bug in Bindu Puri’s ear when we were at a workshop for a volume on India and Human Rights in Ottawa. I told her and the other attendees that Gandhi’s idea of Satya Graha can be found in the Yoga Sutra. She recently published: The Tagore-Gandhi Debate on Matters of Truth and Untruth:

      http://www.springer.com/philosophy/book/978-81-322-2115-9

      One of the themes of the book is the extensive reference and use Gandhi made of the Yoga Sutra in his own politics — a matter overlooked until this publication.

  11. Hi, I’m self-taught in these areas, so I hope you’ll forgive me if this does not address your question. You might look at Kosha Shah’s “Evolving Beyond Borders”, which is the result of her many years of reflection on Sri Aurobindo’s political philosophy. I do have several other writings of students of Sri Aurobindo that are politically oriented, but I’m afraid nothing i’d recommend. Do look at Shah’s work though; she has worked very hard to pull together threads from many of Sri Aurobindo’s writings.

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