At the beginning of the month, there was an interdisciplinary conference in Kanazawa, Japan–the International Conference on Ethno-Epistemology – Culture, Language, and Methodology. Jonardon Ganeri gave a keynote presentation, “Pluralism about Epistemic Cultures” and Anand Vaidya, along with Purushottama Billimoria, gave a paper, “Colonialism and the Impossibility of Empirical Ethno-Epistemology.” I mention their talks first, although there were other people (including myself) giving papers on Indian philosophy, because of two online conversations I want to highlight.
First, the new online journal Confluence has published its fourth issue, which includes a symposium centered on Ganeri’s paper, “A Manifesto for Re:emergent Philosophy.” This paper (abstract here), looks like it echoes his presentation at the conference, in which he also argued that “Only an epistemic culture, which is open to a plurality of epistemic stances, he contends, can propel polycentric modes of knowledge production” (from the abstract). Second, Vaidya has begun a series of three blog posts at the Blog of the APA on Gettier problems and the “inclusion problem” in Western philosophy. In them, he is going to present views derived from Nyāya philosophy and Mohist philosophy that “[show] how non-Western traditions may have responded to the Gettier examples, by extrapolating from the textual evidence a general epistemic theory that can be applied to handle the Gettier cases.”
Returning the conference in Kanazawa–this was a conference which brought together philosophers working on what’s known as “X-phi” or “Experimental Philosophy” with linguists (primarily those working on the Natural Semantic Metalanguage approach, NSM) and philosophers doing Chinese and Indian philosophy. On the side of Indian philosophy Eberhard Guhe (Fudan University) gave a talk on “The Indian Blue-Pot-Paradox in Navya-Nyaya and the Chinese White-Horse-Paradox”, I gave a talk on “Is Ellipsis Completion Knowledge?” While neither of our presentations engaged with experimental philosophy directly, these presentations, and our presence, along with the others from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, means that analytically-trained philosophers thinking about theories of epistemology are becoming more aware of the philosophical resources outside of the West. We’ve discussed this elsewhere on the blog, where Anand Vaidya has argued that, if one is going to engage in experimental philosophy, one shouldn’t only be testing Gettier cases on everyday speakers of Bengali, but drawing on theoretical expertise from Indian, Chinese, and other philosophical traditions–and then testing on everyday speakers of English. While Indian philosophy as a broader field may not wish to hitch its wagon to the X-Phi or NSM movement, I think collaborative participation in these kinds of conferences is important.