3am interview with Anand Vaidya (and related links)

The online magazine 3AM just published an interview with Anand Jayprakash Vaidya, which ranges from discussion of his personal journey through philosophy to the so-called “Hindu Syllogism” to seeing absences to “cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary philosophy” and more. Vaidya does a nice job of pointing readers to a wide range of philosophers working in Indian philosophy and adjacent fields, so that philosophers interested in expanding their repertoire beyond “Western” philosophy have significant resources to do so from the piece. An excerpt:

One lesson I take from looking at classical Indian philosophical discussions of the perception of absence is that discussion of the perception of absence comes along with discussion of the ontology of absence. Some schools hold that the world contains absences in addition to presences. And discussions of the perception of absence are linked to ontological views. This is absent in contemporary analytic discussions…

…More importantly, though, we have an opportunity here. It seems as if the debate in analytic philosophy on the perception of absence is just starting, at least in the recent literature. Why not take a look at the rich, long, and extensive debate over the perception of absence in Indian philosophy as a way of just getting up to speed on the issues? Don’t we already do that when we study other topics in Western philosophy. If I am writing on ethics, I would and should consult the history of ethics when developing my view. Similarily, it seems that we have a rich history of the discussion of absence that can help inform the current debate. And believe me, regardless of whether the views are the best on offer, those that like to think about alternative philosophical moves one can make in a debate will have plenty to be impressed with.

In another corner of the philosophical Internet, Daily Nous links to the interview and, inspired by it, constructs a metaphor of “philosophical protectionism”, in which “Unfamiliarity with and disdain for non-Western philosophy function as tariffs on it, making its entry into philosophy’s main marketplace of ideas more difficult, and discouraging its production by making it professionally riskier.” In the comments section, much discussion then revolves around whether and how “non-Western” philosophy is legitimate, interesting, valuable, and so on.

Inspired by these comments, Ethan Mills, at his personal blog, posted a “Pre-prolegomena to Future Discussions of Including Non-Western Philosophy in the Curriculum,” which raises some questions he finds useful prior to entry into such conversations, like “Is the concept of being “philosophically interesting” something other than a fancy way of re-stating one’s personal intellectual tastes? If so, can this concept be articulated with anything resembling the rigor some people expect from philosophers?”

Readers here may find all three of these posts interesting, though the typical online advice probably does hold for the second: Don’t read the comments. (Or if you want to, Amy Olberding’s now-classic post is a good-enough substitute.)

About Malcolm Keating

Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the Humanities Division at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

2 Replies to “3am interview with Anand Vaidya (and related links)”

  1. I applaud Anand (and others) for having the courage to challenge the mainstream in such a public forum. The ethnocentrism of some philosophers is blatantly obvious from the DailyNous comments.

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