Dear All, this is a draft of a course summary. I will be teaching it with a Western philosopher in spring 2018. We want to focus on Indian and Western philosophy of mind and some basics in epistemology. We’ll also focus on Matilal and the Western philosophers with whom he engaged. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Jonathan Edelmann and Robert D’Amico
Today many scholars would agree that the discipline of philosophy has been practiced in many cultures. Thus, academics today write books on Indian philosophers, Chinese philosophers, Arabic philosophers and so on, along with books on Greek, German, American, and other European philosophers. But it was not always the case that scholars recognized the existence of philosophy in non-Western civilizations. While there were many that contributed to a more cosmopolitan understanding of philosophy, this course focuses on Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935–1991). In 1976 Matilal became Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College. He took as one his intellectual aims that “India should not, indeed cannot, be left out of any general study of the history of logic and philosophy.” We focus on this rare academic convergence of two different philosophical traditions roughly between 1960 and 1980. While India and Europe both have long and distinguished philosophical traditions, they are rarely studied comparatively or in conversation with one another. It is understandable that scholars tend to study either Western or India philosophy in insolation because the complexity and precision of each tradition requires a considerable amount of time to master. This team-taught course, however, allows us to draw upon our individual specializations, thereby building a conversation across disciplines. You will learn the various efforts to bring Western and Eastern philosophy together against the background of these deep questions about philosophy’s future. The readings and topics in the course are at times demanding. Although this course does not presuppose any background knowledge in either Western or Indian philosophy, we hope that students will rise to this challenge and be led by the course to think more clearly and critically about such diverse traditions and their place in a genuinely cosmopolitan society.