“China” as the West’s Other in World Philosophy

Main Article Content

Steve Fuller


Bryan Van Norden’s Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto draws on his expertise in Chinese philosophy to launch a comprehensive and often scathing critique of contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. I focus on the sense in which “China” figures as a “non-Western culture” in Van Norden’s argument. Here I identify an equivocation between what I call a “functional” and a “substantive” account of culture. I argue that Van Norden, like perhaps most others who have discussed Chinese philosophy, presupposes a “functional” conception, whereby the relevant sense in which “China” matters is exactly as “non-Western,” which ends up incorporating some exogenous influences such as Indian Buddhism but not any of the Western philosophies that made major inroads in the twentieth century. I explore the implications of the functional/substantive distinction for the understanding of cross-cultural philosophy generally.

Article Details

How to Cite
Fuller, S. (2018). “China” as the West’s Other in World Philosophy. Journal of World Philosophies, 3(1), 157–164. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/1624
Book Reviews
Author Biography

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller is Auguste Comte Professor of Social Epistemology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK. Originally trained in history and philosophy of science, Fuller is best known for his foundational work in the field of “social epistemology,” the name of both a quarterly journal that he founded in 1987 and the first of his more than twenty books. In 2014 Fuller completed a trilogy relating to the idea of a “post-” or “trans-human” future, all published with Palgrave Macmillan. His latest books are Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History (Routledge),  and The Academic Caesar (Sage), and Post-Truth: Knowledge as a Power Game (Anthem).