Thursday, July 8, 2010

What is needed to improve studies on Indian philosophy?

Since I have neither the authority, nor the position to influence the future of these studies, I feel free to express my opinion.
  1. We should read more (and write less). Most of what we want to say has already been said and there is no point in making the word even more crowded with useless books.
  2. We should have our works edited (or edit them ourselves). We should not expect to be able to write an in-depth study about a subject and at the same time judge whether it is clear enough for an outsider. One cannot be a master of everything and labor limae is the key of a good work. This leads to the next point:
  3. We should be clear about our purposes. Who is our target-reader? Why do we think that a further critical edition is really needed? What is the larger purpose we aim at?
  4. We should work in team(s). I might be an exception, but I feel that all important enterprises in Indian philosophy cannot be fulfilled by a single person. Working together is anti-main stream and it might be at first time-consuming, but it is more efficient and funnier.
  5. We should build networks. Be they multi-authored blogs, workshops, forums… All chances to work together have to be encouraged.
  6. If we study philosophical texts, we should focus on a philosophical understanding of them.
What do you think? Further points? Objections against these ones?


Anonymous said...

Dear Elisa, I do agree with all your points. We need to read more, much more, instead of being so essay-oriented or book-oriented: there is too much paper on the shelves and too many bytes in the laptops, and not all of them actually improve knowledge. We should try to write something when we sincerely consider it meaningful (and it takes hard work…) instead of just adding words to words. Also, we should cooperate: in truth, nobody really works alone, because all of us constantly rely on both primary and secondary literature, but ironically we avoid to contact “living” scholars and prefer to study in seclusion, methodically avoiding peer-to-peer communication.
Yet, I have to admit that your suggestions are not an easy goal...we live in an academic environment where articles and books are valued for the number of pages, most scholars have temporary contracts and struggle to get (or keep) a job. We are compelled to print whatever barely comes to our minds, just to add one more line to our resume and to apply for the next available position…
To this purpose, signing a work with a colleague or with a team is not fruitful at all, not to mention that these very colleagues are those that we have to compete with for the too few positions in universities. I know that it may sound sad and depressive, but I don’t think to exaggerate…
On the other hand, we may try to trust what is good instead of what is merely profitable… it takes courage, but your proposal looks attractive…

elisa freschi said...

Yes, I agree with you. Academically speaking, my points are worthless. The answer would be bring me too far, so I'll try to dedicate a separate post on it.

elisa freschi said...

I wrote a provisional answer here:

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