Unity Through Diversity: Inter-world, Family Resemblance, Intertextuality

Journal of World Philosophies 3 (1):142-150 (2018)
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Abstract

This is a composite review of three intriguing and provocative books that address the interconnections between East Asian and Western philosophy. Firstly, in _Phenomenology and Intercultural Understanding: Toward a New Cultural Flesh_, Kwok-Ying Lau thinks that phenomenology can help construct a “cultural flesh” between civilizations that encourages East-West philosophical dialogues, and that China needs to adopt Western terminology to facilitate an intercultural engagement. Merleau-Ponty’s “inter-world” can help this bridge. Secondly, in _Fundamentals of Comparative and Intercultural Philosophy_, Lin Ma and Jaap van Brakel argue that Chinese thinkers of the modern world invent “Chinese philosophy” in order to engage with Western thought. In a distinct fashion, they incorporate a Wittgenstein-inspired scenario whereby the necessary precondition for comparative intercultural philosophy is the “attitude-toward-a-soul principle” alongside the “family resemblance principle” which includes the “no need to speak the same language principle” or no need for one tradition to adopt another’s terminology. Thirdly, in _Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought_, Eric S. Nelson proposes that intertextual analysis opens multi-dimensional spaces of interpretation to situate changing views of East-West encounters in Germany ranging from Hegel and Kant to Buber and Heidegger. Daoism, Confucianism, Chan and Zen Buddhism are sites for examination by Western thinkers that open portals to East Asian culture and philosophy.

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