Global Philosophy

What is Global Political Philosophy?

In their article “If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is”, published in The Stone column of the New York Times blog (May 11, 2016), Jay Garfield and Bryan W. Van Norden vehemently complain that philosophy faces a “serious diversity problem”. Most importantly, the lack of diversity concerns the underrepresentation of philosophical traditions and discourses outside the Anglo-European mainstream. Asian or African philosophy is mostly excluded from the average curriculum of Western philosophy departments and hardly taken seriously by Anglo-European philosophers. This narrowing of the field of philosophy in the Anglo-European discourse does not only fade out the importance other philosophical traditions and discourses have in other parts of the contemporary world. In the end, it also prevents philosophy to become “richer”, “truer” or more effective in solving problems by engaging in new ways of thinking.

Reacting to Anglo-European parochialism, the idea of global philosophy claims that philosophy should make use of the numerous philosophical resources that can be found in non-Anglo-European philosophical traditions or discourses – just as these traditions should embrace Western philosophy to enrich their understanding of themselves and the world. In his seminal essay “Philosophy Unbound: The Idea of Global Philosophy”, Thom Brooks introduces this idea as follows:

The future of philosophy is moving towards ‘global philosophy’. The idea of global philosophy is the view that different philosophical approaches may engage more substantially with each other to solve philosophical problems. (2013, p. 254)

Political philosophy in particular addresses problems of global relevance. According to the basic claim of global philosophy, the major challenges today such as global justice and the legitimacy of global governance, good governance in the age of Big Data, climate change, or the universal validity of human rights (to name just a few) can hence no longer be merely addressed within one cherished conceptual and argumentative framework. But what consequences does the claim of global philosophy entail for the way political philosophy approaches its questions and organizes its field of research? And what concrete ideas can Western and Eastern perspectives offer each other in light of these global political challenges?

These issues will be addressed in a conference to be held in Berlin from October 1st -2nd 2018. It will be jointly organized by the philosophy departments of Beijing University and Free University of Berlin and is conceived as a follow-up meeting of the conference held from April 7th – 8th 2017 in China and organized by both institutions with the support of Justitia Amplificata and the philosophy department of Zhejiang University.