Sanskritists and Indologists have not yet developed an unambiguous philosophical terminology and are often unaware of technical usages common in (Western) philosophy. One is of course free to call things as one wishes, but this lack of a common terminology tends to strengthen the tendency (already strong enough) of not including Indian thought within Philosophy. Philosophers would, I believe, feel more compelled to admit, e.g., Prabhākara's theories within a textbook on sense-perception if only Sanskrit scholars would show the significance of his theory of sense-perception in terms acceptable and understandable by Western readers. This is what has happened with Chinese theories of "virtue ethics".
A similar risk has been recently outlined in the Preface to the issue of the Journal of Indian Philosophy dedicated to the proceedings of the Philosophy Section of the 14th World Sanskrit Conference and written by Shoryu Katsura Mark Siderits and Kiyotaka Yoshimizu (available on-line, DOI 10.1007/s10781-011-9131-2). The usage of "externalism" for the Pratyabhijñā belief in the existence of an external object (bāhyavāda) leads to mutual misunderstandings and to the insulation of Indian philosophy —suggest the authors.
What can be done? Writing books which deal with Indian philosophy but within a sound philosophical background and sharing a common terminology with their sister Western disciplines.
What do readers think? Should one forget about the dialogue and just care about using terms which can be understood by our fellow Sanskritists or by philosophers who are well aware of the Indian scenario?
Allen from Indiana to Pitt
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