Interpreting Across Boundaries, New Essays in Comparative Philosophy

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Interpreting Across Boundaries, New Essays in Comparative Philosophy
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This volume is a "state-of-the art" assessment of comparative philosophy written by some of the leading practitioner of the field. While its primary focus is n gaining methodological clarity regarding the comparative enterprise of "interpreting across boundaries," the book also contains new substantive essay on Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and European thought. The contributors are Roger T. Ames, William Theodore de Bary, Wing-tsit Chan, A. S. Cua, Eliot Deutsch, Charles Hartshorne, Daya Krishna, Gerald James Larson, Sengaku Mayeda, Hajime Nakamura, Raimundo Panikkar, Karl H. Potter, Henry Rosemont, Jr., Ben-Ami Scharfstein, Ninian smart, Frits Stall, and Frederick J. Streng.

Comparative or cross-cultural philosophy can be seen as a relative newcomer to the field of philosophy. It has its antecedents in the emergence of comparative studies in nineteenth-century European intellectual history, as well as in the sequence of East-West Philosophers' Conference at the University of Hawaii, which began in 1939. This book will prove to be of great significance in helping to define a conscious, methodologically an substantively, about its role and function in the larger enterprises of philosophy and comparatives studies.

About The Author:

Gerald James Larson is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Eliot Deutsch is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii.

Excerpts From Reviews:

"Interpreting across Boundaries is now the most important book in comparative philosophy. It marks a growing recognition among leading comparative philosophers that emphasizing difference to the exclusion of sameness on the one hand, or emphasizing focus on detailed particulars to the exclusion of search for commonality of universality, on the other, are the result of a misguided perspective and false sense of opposition this dual emphasis on the relation between sameness and difference and difference and on the relation between particulars and universality takes comparative philosophical research a step beyond its present state, charting new directions for future scholarship."

-John M. Koller,
Renselaer Polytechnic Institute

Comparative literature has established itself as an important field in the last decade, but comparative philosophy has remained on the periphery of the philosophical canon. Interpreting Across Boundaries offers the advanced student and scholar a series of essays engaged in the comparative enterprise…. This collection of important essays in cross-cultural philosophy should be included in both undergraduate and graduate libraries and should contribute to raising comparative philosophy to a central position in the philosophical canon. The references included in the essays, the list of contributors, and the index effectively guide the student to additional resources.
September 1988

-J. Cauvel,
The Colorado College




In the summer of 1984 the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SACP) sponsored an international research conference for Asian and comparative philosophy in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the general theme "Interpreting Across Boundaries." The conference was funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Robert Maynard Hutchins Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, the Rowny Foundation, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, The East-West Center and the Institute for Philosophy and Religion (Boston). The conference was attended by 165 philosophers from some fourteen countries, including Australia, Austria, England, India, Israel, the People's Republic of China, and the United State. A narrative account of that conference together with abstracts from the proceedings have been published in the journal Philosophy East and West (volume 36 no. 2, April 1986).

The purpose of the conference was to examine critically the "state of the art" in comparative philosophy and to fashion some new research agendas for the future. In the twentieth century comparative philosophy developed in its present form, so it seemed appropriate to have an international research conference that, on one level, would assess where the field has been to date but, on another level, would project where it should be going as we approach the end of the century. Moreover, we were aware that it was still possible to include a number of senior philosophers who had been involved in the field throughout much of the century (for example, Wing-tsit Chan, Hajime Nakamura, and Charles Hartshorne, to name but a few.)

Choosing a theme for the conference was something of a risk. We wanted to avoid focusing on any particular problem, tradition, figure, or method, any one of which would have prematurely foreclosed the sort of broad "state of the art" deliberations that we wanted to evoke. At the same time, we dreaded the "general call for papers" so typical of academic gatherings in the humanities, which allows participants to withdraw into their own eccentric (and frequently boring) specializations. In the final analysis, we decided to focus on the notion of "limit" but to do so in a metaphorical way: hence, the metaphor "boundary" and the general theme "Interpreting Across Boundaries." Use of such a metaphorical theme left open both the definition of "boundary" (whether cultural, religious, linguistic, epistemological, historical, disciplinary, or whatever) and the matter of "interpreting" or, in other words, the issue of "understanding" (hermeneutics). To change the metaphor, we endeavored to "let a hundred flowers bloom," the problems of weeds, birds, and crabgrass notwithstanding.

In any case, the risk appears to have been worth it, for the conference produced a variety of significant philosophical analyses and research proposals, most of which have been carefully summarized and reported in the number of Philosophy East West cited before. Beyond that, however, there emerged a specific group of essays, derived directly or indirectly from the conference, that provide some intriguing insights into the future directions of comparative philosophy as a field and which we are characterizing in this volume as "new essays in comparative philosophy." These essays are sufficiently interesting and sufficiently indicative of new directions for comparative philosophy." To deserve publication in their entirety as a collection. Not only are they the work of some of the leading comparativists of the century (and thus of historical interest) but also they represent an array of analytic and programmatic approaches to comparative philosophy that are symptomatic of a much more mature, sophisticated grasp of the comparative enterprise. Wilhelm Halbfass comments, in the January 1985 issues of Philosophy East and West, that 'comparative philosophy' as an open-minded, methodically rigorous, hermeneutically alert, and yet existentially committed comparative study of human orientations is still in a nascent stage" (p. 14). This observation is surely reasonable and surely reasonable and one to which al of us who "do" comparative philosophy would subscribe, and it is our hope that this volume will contribute significant insights by way of identifying those areas of productive growth which comparative philosophy should nurture.




Preface vii
Introduction: The "Age-Old Distinction Between the Same and the Other"
Metaphor as Key to Understanding the Thought of Other Speech Communities
Against Relativism
Comparative Philosophy: What It Is and What It Ought to Be
The Contextual Fallacy
Sankara, Nagarjuna, and Fa Tsang, with some Western Analogues
What is Comparative Philosophy Comparing?
The Meaning of the Term 'Philosophy' and 'Religion' in Various Traditions
Mechanism of Self-Deception and True Awareness According to C. G. Jung and the Eight-Thousand-Line Perfection of Wisdom Sutra
Knowledge and the Tradition Text in Indian Philosophy
The Analogy of Meaning and the Tasks of Comparative Philosophy
Sankara and Narayana Guru
Is There Philosophy in Asia?
Chu Hsi and World Philosophy
Confucius and the Ontology of Knowing
Reflections on Moral Theory and Understanding Moral Traditions
Neoconfucianism as Traditional and Modern
Contributors 311
Index 313

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