Towards a more inclusive Philosophy Department

May 12, 2016

Towards a more inclusive Philosophy Department 

13 thoughts on “Towards a more inclusive Philosophy Department

  1. what have we missed in life? What did Confucius say?
    Frankie, someone told me that Confucius said, Fcuk Uh (in his classical Mandarin). It is a most appropriate answer, don’t you think so? –Din Merican

  2. Care to comment , CLF, LaMoy, Conrad, Veritas, What makes Socrates, Plato and Aristotle special compared to Confucius and other great thinkers of the Non-Western world?

    This Euro-centric emphasis distorts the minds of our young, to put it simplistically. Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Korea universities must take the lead in promoting teaching philosophy of the East to restore the balance. I agree with Professors Garfield and Norden.–Din Merican

  3. Most Westerners have aversion in the Oriental philosophy , especially of Chinese philosophy, because of what they think as being too mystical ?

    Listen to Lao Tze for example , in his Teachings of the Tao ( The Way ) , he says :

    ” FOR THOSE WHO CLAIM TO KNOW THE TAO , THEY ACTUALLY DO NOT KNOW IT ……BUT FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THE TAO , THEY CANNOT SAY IT…..” – What he actually meant was that it is forbidden to say it . Hence, it goes into a greater mystery…..How does the Learner resolve this so-called double-speak of his Philosophical thoughts ? =

    Apparently, there’s a precondition there . In the learning of Knowledge (or Knowing ) , one must actually know the destination, and without knowing the destination, one can NEVER know the way ( or, to resolve the Mystery of The Way, the Toa, one has to reach the Destination first ) : Can Philosophers resolve the Mystery ? – period.

  4. I agree with every single word of Professors Garfield and Van Norden. But the US is inevitably an Euro-centric country because the majority of the population is of European descent. It is the result of a demand-supply market. We like to think of an education institution as a place to cultivate the mind of the student. But most of our institutions are run like a business, a mass production line for the supple-demand market. I was fortunate to have attended Stanford, which has the best Asian Studies in the nation, from where I learned to love two of my most favorite poets, both Indian – Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu; and from its Hoover Institution I learned and understood the profoundness of my own Chinese culture.

    You are an alum of one of the best Universities in the US–Stanford Leland University in Palo Alto, California. I visited Stanford in 1970 on my way back to Malaysia. I visited my good friends, the Late Dr. Syed Hussein Wafa who died in a helicopter crash of Kota Kinabalu together with the late Donald Stephens (in 1976?) and the Late (Tan Sri) Dr. Awang Had Salleh, who were studying at The Hoover Institution.Stanford, as it is better known, is beautiful place.–Din Merican.

  5. Abnizar: I agree with many things you’ve said. But I believe you must have read a bad translation copy of the Tao Te Ching. To better understand a philosophy it is always best to read it in its original language. Unless the translator is highly proficient with both the languages involved in the translation, a lot of the meaning would be lost. In the very first chapter of Tao Te Ching, Laotzu clearly stated that Tao is beyond the power of word to define, for language is an imperfect invention by imperfect men. It is easier for us to experience Tao than to describe it. Never had he ever meant “it is forbidden to say it.” I find many westerners studying Chinese philosophies mixed-up the Tao in Taoism with that of Confucianism.

  6. I can accept what you have said, thank you for pointing it out LaMoy : ” ….Laotzu clearly stated that the Tao is beyond the power of word to define……it is easier for us to experience Tao than to describe it….” Agreed, no words can describe ‘ experience ‘ , its simply ‘ know ‘ !

    Martin Lings and Yahya Ahmed (John Herelihy ) , describing the ‘ experience ‘ , it is amazing that Man can actually ‘ experience ‘ , something which is in the Ineffable or the Ethereal reality , and the Qura’nic journey takes one exactly there, from Man’s ephemeral existence……

    Confucious : “………which is easiest by experience , which is the bitterest…..”

    Is it too painful to describe in words, or that its more painful by experiencing the ‘ Ineffable ‘ ? – period

  7. I agree that a liberal arts education should include the option of courses in non-European philosophy. I disagree with the term of “non-Western” because really what is non-Western in this world anymore? Many philosophical concepts that originated from Europe/US have become properly global. Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism, Capitalism, Secularism, Rule of Law etc. are now global.

    The very idea of development, especially the view that increased material prosperity is the lodestar of public policy all over the world, is fundamentally a Western one that came about with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe. Up until the 20th century, the great majority of humanity lived lives that had barely changed in millenia, and there was little expectation that the future should be better than the past. In fact, Confucianism looked to a distant past (the early stage of the Zhou Dynasty in particular) as a golden age for rulers to emulate. A majority of people in the world today today would likely not agree that it be best if society regressed back a few hundred years.

    I do agree that non-European philosophies can provide interesting insights into philosophical questions about modern life and policy. On the other hand, the world has changed irrevocably in the past 100-200 years, and I am not sure if pre-modern non-European philosophy offer compelling arguments about the big questions about the modern world today (which is my interest, as opposed to more abstract questions about say the purpose of life etc.): capitalism vs socialism, democracy vs. autocracy, secularism vs. religious state, individualism vs. collectivism. I do accept that by my very framing of these questions, they do show me to be rather “Euro-centric”. A Salafist for example would simply reject any such “Euro-centric” divisions as his/her world is one supposedly devoid of any European (and modern) concepts and thoughts.

  8. May I add : I think , in this so-called state of ‘ experience ‘ by which no word can express it , going into the Ineffable reality , it has passed the boundary so to speak from Philosophy to a dimension BEYOND philosophy…..

    Hence, I think that Loatzu (or Loatze) may have been right to talk of the ‘Forbidden city ” ? Not that easy, I admit !

  9. Inclusive philosophy?
    WTF! That’s absolutely oxymoronic.
    I think you intellects better sort out what kinda Human Being – with emphasis on the ‘Being’ – that you are – first, before the Word “Philosophy” erupts in the Psyche.

    Most folks like me, will be assuredly labelled as WOGs (Western Orientated Gentlemen or Dog, whatever..) – because we were educated up to the Tertiary level entirely by Western Pedagogy and Methods, yet retain a modicum of ‘Eastern’ cultural bias. Western Philosophy is Greco-Christian for what it’s worth. Eastern is an amalgam of disparate Animistic-Pantheistic-Humanism. Mysticism is not necessary in either.

    The commonalities between Eastern and Western ‘Philosophies’ have already been espoused by no less brilliant minds than Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, C.G. Jung and so on..

    If the majority of Western ‘philosophical’ students can’t grasp what these blokes are saying, what hope in Heaven, Earth or Hell have they got in understanding the Tao (whose earliest symbol was actually found in archeological digs of the Neolithic Age around the Danube Valley), Analects, The Vedas (so many that my head explodes, just to think of them) and the Buddhist Sutras?

    Add that to the difficulties in translation and the ignorance of the milieu of the prevailing cultures and you’d have a truly impossible task.

    It is better to understand something well, than to bastardize it, with all sorts of nonsense. So for Western Wannabes who want to reduce the irreducible, welcome to Schizophrenia or General Paralysis of the Insane. At most, the students will be able to do, is to scratch the surface. Is that enough? Time to watch Psychologist Anthony de Mello (SJ), the anathematized Jesuit again..?

    The difference between WOGs and these light headed numbskulls, is that we live within the Cause-Effect (dyadic) cultures with our reasoning and Triadic method solving. But we are no better than the next bloke. See this:

    PS Yo Abnizar, go research the Nature of Consciousness Before you experience another bout of Mysticism.. Reality and Solidity is a function of that, you know. Particle Wave Duality and collapse of Wave Function and Heisenberg’s-Schrodinger’s Quantum stuff.. Remember to ‘unentangle’ the brain function okay?

  10. Western philosophy is for the most part an intellectual endeavour divorced from the everyday lives of people living in the West who have embraced ideologies which have had a profound impact on their spiritual quest(s).

    So called Non European philosophies have been embedded in the day to day living of diverse communities whose people do not see these philosophies as academic or removed from daily living but integral to it.

    In others words you can’t teach it, you have to live it. I’m not talking about religion here but arcana which has accumulated after centuries of the co mingling between the scared and profane.

  11. Abnizar: You are getting it. As Laotze puts it, “door to all wonders.” Tao Te Ching may be a little harder to understand than the Analects of Confucius, but I-Ching (Book of Change) is the one I have spent more than 40 years studying and yet only scratch the surface.

  12. goodness gracious ….” spent more than 40 years studying and yet only scratch the surface ” ? If you are talking of depth, like going into the deepest ocean called Marianas trench of the Pacific, you are supposed to have retrieved the treasures that are hidden there.

    What is the shortest distance between two points ? Its the straight line. I thought studying Toa ( the Way) , is to be able to reach the final ‘Destination ‘ , but where is it ? If we are studying all the time the ‘way’ in one’s life, I would liken it (symbolically ) to our journey into the forest aimlessly…..go rambling, rambling like some discussions here, we might go off the way, and go ASTRAY….. and NEVER be able to reach the Destination . Why ? because we missed the way and have gone astray…….

    My personal ‘experience’ is or has been the ‘straight line ‘ , no rambling about to avoid getting lost in the woods ……or else, we may miss it for not knowing the ‘Destination ‘ …..which ? ( I am using Symbolism here ….nothing personal)

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