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

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Jay Goulding


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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Goulding, J. (2018). Unity Through Diversity: Inter-world, Family Resemblance, Intertextuality. Journal of World Philosophies, 3(1), 142–150. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/1622
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Author Biography

Jay Goulding

Jay Goulding is a professor in the Department of Social Science, York University, Canada, where he was Programme Coordinator for Social and Political Thought. With expertise in classical Chinese and Japanese philosophy, hermeneutics, and phenomenology, he participated in the 2001 official return of philosophy to China with the International Society for Chinese Philosophy and contributed an article to Beijing University’s journal Gate of Philosophy (zhexuemen 哲學門), celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the Department of Philosophy (2004). He wrote for Scribner’s New Dictionary of the History of Ideas encyclopedia (2005) on East Asian philosophy, culture, language, and history. In 2006, he delivered visiting lectures at Beijing Foreign Studies University’s Foreign Literature Institute and at Beijing University’s Institute of Foreign Philosophy, explaining Daoism and phenomenology—Laozi and Zhuangzi compared with Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Martin Heidegger. In December 2008, he edited China-West Interculture: Toward the Philosophy of World Integration, Essays on Wu Kuang-ming’s Thinking (Global Scholarly Publications) for the Association of Chinese Philosophers in America. Recently, he was recognized by Journal of Chinese Philosophy as a distinguished scholar in Chinese philosophy and comparative thinking, contributing to the fortieth anniversary volume with “The Forgotten Frankfurt School: Richard Wilhelm’s China Institute” (41, no. 1-2 [2014]: 170–186). He has published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociological Analysis: A Journal of Comparative Religion, Canadian Review of Sociology, Political Theory, Catalyst, Anhui Normal University Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, International Journal for Field-Being, China Review International, and Asian Cinema.