I hope that readers will bear with me while I keep on exploiting the metaphor of wrestling with the angel. There are a few more indications, in fact, we can take out of it. First, Jacob fights. He does not just encounter the angel, he fights with him. Similarly, in order for the encounter with another philosopher to be really transformative, one should not just engage with a restatement of one’s ideas, and rather look for points of difference and not just of harmony. One is not transformed with the encounter of the n-th philosopher who agrees with oneself.
Then, Jacob fights all night. He fights while not being completely sure about the strength of his adversary, whom he cannot see. He tests his adversary’s and his own strength throughout a long wrestling. Similarly, although a short quote by a Chinese philosopher or an Arabian one might embellish our articles and impress our readers, this is not what I mean when I am talking about a fruitful transformative encounter. For that, one needs time and ongoing engagement.
An easy device in this sense is to engage with a full text, not just an impressive quote. By engaging with the full text, this unleashes its potential for a cross-cultural fertilisation, insofar as the same question is given a different answer, or vice versa, or the context is completely different. It is not irrelevant whether the discussion about the existence of free will in Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, for instance, is prompted by the problem of the validity of the injunctions of sacred texts asking one to do something (see Freschi, ”Free will in Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta”, Religion Compass). In this way, one can go beyond a trivial restatement of what one knew with a different voice. It takes time, but we are doing philosophy, not emergency surgery.