XXII World Congress of Philosophy and Nepali Representation

Article excerpt

This year's XXII World Congress of Philosophy met on July 30-August 05 in Korea under the Congress's theme " Rethinking Philosophy Today." This is a congress which meets every five years. Last time it met in 2003 in Turkey and the next time will be in Greece, the homeland of philosophy indeed, in 2013. Philosophers and philosophy teachers from more than eighty-two countries participated in this quintessential philosophy congress. Most of them including myself presented papers at a series of different sessions.

Almost all of the rest of the countries except my own country had more than one delegate. I was the single delegate from Nepal. This speaks much about ourselves besides the fact of our economic hardship, because participation from 'poor' countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria included more than a single delegate. Despite some bitter feelings about our backwardness, I represented my country with a high feeling.

The XXII Congress was important for us Asians, because it is the first ever of these congresses to have met on Asian soil in the long history of its one hundred and eight years. It was an opportunity to display the beauty and strength of our philosophical systems and traditions to the global communities. The heavy presence of philosophers from China, India, Japan and Korea definitively asserted what was Asian in the congress. Nepali representation at such a historic congress was very crucial for the promotion of the Nepali image in the global intellectual community, and I was very conscious of this fact. Who we are matters in how far we engage in dialogue with the global community. Our long isolationism can no longer help us to define who we are. For the first time in the history of the Nepali philosophical tradition, I stood high in front of a colorful gathering of very distinguished philosophers and spoke in a Nepali voice about our interest in the establishment of a cooperative society for philosophy and humanistic studies in South Asia. I was quite aware that we alone could do nothing unless intellectual colleagues of our neighboring countries extended their helping hands. But I was proud when Professor Bhuvan Chandel, current Secretary of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations in New Delhi, embraced me saying "Nepal is our identity!" after the gathering. At least we could make our presence and influences known and felt to our own Indian counterparts.

Finally, I realized that the global community (although we can question the validity of such a community) is welcoming us to come up with our own voice. They are sympathetic to listening to our voice. How much we want to come out of our 'exotic' hibernation depends on us. Whether we want to maintain same past isolationism in a kind of illusory prelapsarian bliss, or whether we want to come up to the global front is up to us. Keeping the local sovereignty intact and letting it interact with the global is a need of every society today. To initiate a dialogue with the global does not necessarily mean to be westernized. Unfortunately, some of our people still suffer from this common misconception. The truth as it appears to me is that we must properly interact with the global, not only to resist what we are not but also to assert what we are, culturally and socially. …