Reintroducing Philosophy: Thinking as the Gathering of Civilization
According to contemporary, Islamicate and ancient sources
by Anthony F. Shaker (McGill University, Canada)
That we are now entering a post-Western world is no longer merely a thesis in international studies. Scholars interpret this development with sophisticated social, economic and political models of analysis. But what does the dissolution of “Western” hegemony signify for humanity’s rich inheritance, learning traditions, and the civilizing role of philosophy in the quest for wisdom? How can this inheritance assist us today?
Reintroducing Philosophy seeks a more realistic framework for discourse on these questions than the Western-centric worldview that continues to be taught in schools, almost by rote. It analyzes themes from several world traditions in logic, knowledge and metaphysics connected with the quest for completeness of thinking. While thinking was not generally considered divorced from being, by tradition, making “practice” and the “phenomenal world” the focal point of philosophy muddled this completeness.
Reflection on knowing and being has a lengthy history that dates back at least to the Presocratics. Dr. Shaker examines their relation based on sources as varied as Leibniz and Frege, Qūnawī and Ṣadrā, ancient Greek and classical Indian and Chinese thought. He brings into the discussion the paradigm (unmūzaj) that Ṣadrā presented as that of man’s being in the world, and which encapsulates philosophy’s longstanding view of thinking as the gathering of civilization.
Neither a comparative nor historical study per se, Reintroducing Philosophy is based on a concentrated reading of these sources. It includes detailed discussions on the ancient Greek medical concept of causation, the Sanskrit concepts of prameya (object known) and pramātā (knower), the Chinese intelligentsia’s understanding of ancient scriptures and the reaction to “Western” intellectual challenges.
Contemporary thought has taken shape in the 150 years, the short time during which the “West” (America, England and France) has largely dominated the rest of the world. But human civilization had already been global and advanced by then—indeed, much more developed than, say, England during its industrial revolution. But little of this is reflected either in the current debate or in our educational institutions. It is only normal, therefore, that so many reflective people—not just erudite scholars—should seek a more realistic framework within which to discuss what, after all, are humanity’s deepest concerns, and with it a more natural course of history.
PART I—BACK TO BASICS
1. Not What Is Philosophy, but Why Philosophy?
2. What Is a Thing?
3. The Human Dimension of Things
4. Method and the Path to Discovery
5. A New Logic of Discovery?
6. Identity: What Is Real and What is True
7. The Love of Wisdom and the Question of Science
8. The Mathematization of Knowledge
PART II—THE DYNAMICS OF BEING
9. When Is “Before” the World?
10. Creation as Allegory
11. Philosophy and the Uses of Anatomical Teleology
12. Explanation in the Greek Spirit
13. Knowledge and Action
14. The Paradigm of Man in the World
15. The Paradox of Thinking
PART III—PHILOSOPHY TO THE EAST
16. Patterns of Philosophical Thinking in Classical India
17. The Restoration of Philosophy in Modern China
18. Rebellion against Whom?
PART IV—THE TRAVAILS OF CONTEMPORARY THOUGHT
19. What Is So New About Contemporary Philosophy?
20. How Subservient Is Contemporary Philosophy to Technology?
21. The Indifference to Humanity
CONCLUDING REMARKS—THINKING AS THE GATHERING OF CIVILIZATION
Anthony F. Shaker is a philosopher, social theorist, and the author of Modernity, Civilization and the Return to History (Vernon Press, 2017). A specialist in Islamicate philosophy, he has lectured in Germany and Turkey. He has authored many books and papers, including three translated volumes from Ghazālī’s Iḥyāʾ and the only complete English study of Qūnawī. And he is presently working on a translation of Qūnawī’s magnum opus, Iʿjāz al-bayān (Equinox Press). His current research focuses on the idea that thinking is both the expression and the gathering of human civilization, and that productive dialogue in philosophy by tradition was not limited to armchair musings about concepts, beliefs or science.
Contemporary philosophy, Islamic philosophy, German philosophy, Heidegger, Frege, Hegel, Bertrand Russell, Q?naw?, Ibn ?Arab?, Suhravard?, Mull? ?adr?, M?r D?m?d, Indian philosophy, Chinese philosophy, Taoism, Buddhist logic, history of philosophy, history of science, Greek philosophy, history of medicine, logic, Western thought, European thought, cultural studies, religious studies