A view from afar into current controversies
2 April 2013
Interested in non-Western developments of professional philosophy, I wish to take up the challenge of introducing non-Western tongues and modes of thought into the practice of professionally established academic philosophy, by focussing on problematics that belong with my fields of research as an anthropologist in India, namely: (1) Environmental and medical ethics, (2) Voice and the iconicity of language, and (3) Self and others in their lifeworld. I would try to avoid conflating heterogeneous modes of thought and I would like to emphasize stark contrasts between different philosophies each of them ethnographically situated in their specific historical and linguistic context.
The choice of topics to be elaborated upon will purposely be selective to the point of being idiosyncratic. The conceptual grid mapping our philosophical landscape will definitely not be exhaustive. For purely circumstantial reasons, a privileged position will be given to natural philosophy and bioethics on the one hand, pragmatics, language and the philosophy of mind on the other hand.
Aims and methods are quite different from those of comparative philosophy or critical history. I reject the idea of an "Indian philosophy" conceived of as a philological object of scholarly study. My mentor is Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya in his inaugural vindication of philosophers as systematisers. See his Studies in Vedantism (1909) introducing this contrast between the critical historian and the systematic philosopher.