Universiteit Leiden

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Intercultural Philosophy as Philosophy: Some Remarks on Leiden Philosophy’s Mission

Thursday 10 November 2022
Centre for Intercultural Philosophy events 2022


Sponsered by the Leiden University Centre for Intercultural Philosophy

From the years leading up to its opening in 2017 and since, the Global and Comparative Philosophy program at Leiden University has had a distinct and crucial mission. In the wake of several earlier but halting attempts to launch intercultural philosophy programs in Europe, and facing the slow revival of this trend now, our mission has been to demonstrate the philosophical reflection and debate has taken place in all corners of the world through the entirety of human civilization, and that all cultures have important philosophical insights to contribute to our age, when global challenges confront us all. At the core of this mission, what grounds and inspires it, is the conviction that so-called intercultural philosophy is philosophy, that the history and continuing development of philosophy everywhere in the world is the business of all philosophers, rather than a separate, isolated specialization peripheral to the discipline. As I celebrate my fifth year as Professor of Global and Comparative Philosophy at Leiden, I wish to share with my colleagues here what I believe this mission entails, and what challenges it still faces for us inside of this Institute. I will speak about the history of philosophy as an intercultural endeavor as well as its modern distortions during and since the Colonial Period. I will speak about the special challenges that face Intercultural Philosophy scholars in the environment of contemporary Philosophy departments. I will then share what I think we at Leiden should strive to achieve, in general and specific terms, to fulfil our mission of showing what philosophy, all of which is intercultural philosophy, can offer human beings in today’s world.

Prof. dr. Doug Berger

Douglas L. Berger is Professor of Global and Comparative Philosophy, specializing in early and medieval Indian and Chinese traditions, intercultural hermeneutics and 19th-20th century European thinkers. A native of the largely rural southwest corner of North Dakota in the United States, he received his Ph.D. with Distinction from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2000, and did exchange and post-doc research at Eberhard-Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany. He is the author of four, going on five, monographs, including The Veil of Māyā: Schopenhauers System and Early Indian Thought (SUNY-Binghamton, 2004), Encounters of Mind: Luminosity and Personhood in Indian and Chinese Thought (SUNY Press, 2015) and Indian and Intercultural Philosophy: Personhood, Consciousness and Causality (Bloomington Publications, 2021), along with dozens of journal essays and book chapters. He is the former president of the international Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (2014-16) and former chief-editor of the University of Hawai’i Press book series Dimensions of Asian Spirituality (2012-2020). He served as Chair of the Philosophy Department at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in the U.S. (2015-17) and is currently the WD of the Institute for Philosophy at Leiden University.

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