Fundamentals of Comparative and Intercultural Philosophy

By Lin Ma & Jaap van Brakel

Subjects: Comparative Philosophy, Comparative Religion, Asian Studies, Translation, Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9781438460161, 432 pages, January 2017
Hardcover : 9781438460154, 432 pages, May 2016

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Table of contents

Note on Referencing
Symbols and Abbreviations

1. Preliminaries—Philosophy and Language
Do We Need a Universal Notion of Philosophy?
Language (Preliminaries)
Linguistic Relativism

2. The Troubled Water of the Ideal Language Paradigm
Specters of the Ideal Language Paradigm
Are There Universals?

3. Universalism and Relativism
Similarities of Universalism and Relativism
Case Study of Color in View of Relativism versus Universalism
The Preconditions of Scientific Knowledge

4. Family Resemblance and De- essentialization
(De-)essentialization of Language and Meaning
Family Resemblance
Family Resemblance across Traditions

5. No Need to Speak the Same Language
The NNSSL- Principle
First Contacts
The Treaty of Waitangi
“A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs”
NNSSL and No Need for a Shared World Either?

6. Conceptual Schemes and Forms of Life
Conceptual Schemes
Form(s) of Life
Similarities and Differences

7. Varieties of Intercultural Philosophy
Heidegger’s Asian Connection
Interkulturelle Philosophie
Comparative Philosophy: Science, Pragmatism, or Anti-philosophy?
Variations of World Philosophy
The Geyi 格义 Method

8. Constraints in the Era of Globalization Center- Periphery Forces
Standardization and Regimentation of Languages
“Cattle Colors”
Transcendental Pretence
Qing 青 versus Emotion(s)
Globalization Makes the Past Inaccessible

9. Interpretation Models
Theories of Interpretation
XYZ-Model of Interpretation and Comparison
Underdetermination of Interpretation

10. Necessary Preconditions for Interpretation
Principles of Interpretation
FR- Extension
Final Necessary Preconditions of Interpretation
Truth and Rightness

Works Cited
Name Index
Subject Index

Discusses the conditions of possibility for intercultural and comparative philosophy, and for crosscultural communication at large.


This innovative book explores the preconditions necessary for intercultural and comparative philosophy. Philosophical practices that involve at least two different traditions with no common heritage and whose languages have very different grammatical structure, such as Indo-Germanic languages and classical Chinese, are a particular focus. Lin Ma and Jaap van Brakel look at the necessary and not-so-necessary conditions of possibility of interpretation, comparison, and other forms of interaction and how we can speak of similarities and differences in this context. The authors posit that it is necessary to dissolve the question of universalism versus relativism by replacing the ideal language paradigm with a paradigm of family resemblances and that it is not necessary to share a common language to engage in comparison. Numerous case studies are presented, including many comparisons of Western and Chinese concepts.

Lin Ma is Associate Professor of the School of Philosophy at the Renmin University of China and the author of Heidegger on East-West Dialogue: Anticipating the Event. Jaap van Brakel is Professor Emeritus in the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the University of Leuven and the author of Philosophy of Chemistry: Between the Manifest and the Scientific Image.


"This is a rich and stimulating book … Throughout, succinct taxonomies structure and address pertinent questions, assisting the reader to take stock and stay afloat on the river of ideas that flows deeply through the text … Fundamentals of Comparative and Intercultural Philosophy is a most helpful addition to the canon of comparative philosophy. It is surely an invaluable resource for researchers everywhere navigating the subtle distinctions between language and meaning, translation and interpretation. " — Culture and Dialogue