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Monday, September 27, 2010

Indian Philosophy, debate and conferences

I am just coming back from a UK-tour (London-Lewes-Cambridge). The (chronologically) second purpose of the tour was to attend the conference "Self: Hindu responses to Buddhist critiques", which is part of the omonymous project lead by C. Ram-Prasad and J. Ganeri. The following ones are my first comments on it:
  1. 1. all papers have been precirculated and, contrary to my expectations, have actually been read by most speakers/listeners. I guess readers will automatically understand that this implies that the audience was limited in number and made of only quite interested and active members.
  2. 2. hence, every speaker had 15' to read excerpts of his/her paper (which seemed to me not to be the best use of one's time), to propose a fil rouge through it, to summarize it, or to explain its etiology (as Brian Black did –and I have to admit I enjoyed this a lot). Next, a respondant had 10' to comment on the paper and then 35' of open discussion followed. As a rule, I enjoyed this last part most, since the other speakers/listeners have been able to propose several interesting insights and criticisms. It was the first time at a conference I really had the feeling of talking through philosophical traditions. Which leads me to the next point:
  3. 3. The most quoted authority (again, contrary to my expectations) has been Edmund Husserl. His phenomenological account has been mentioned by both supporters and deniers of an enduring self. Does this mean, as John Taber asked at last, that in fact Indian Philosophy has nothing "new" to offer to Contemporary Philosophy, since the latter has already achieved on its own what Indian philosophers realised (perhaps, some centuries in advance)? Or does it only mean that we have to come to terms with the unknown (Indian philosophy) in "our" terms (hence, through Husserl)? Once this "unknown" has found its way in our thought through such a doorway, it may still plant interesting seeds in it…

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