Global Philosophy: Some Current Issues

By McBride, William L. | Journal of Philosophy: A Cross Disciplinary Inquiry, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Global Philosophy: Some Current Issues


McBride, William L., Journal of Philosophy: A Cross Disciplinary Inquiry


(Yubraj Aryal spoke to William L. McBride. Mr. Aryal specified his questions on global philosophy.)

Y. A.: Let me first congratulate you on behalf of Nepali scholarly communities on your new elected presidency for the Federation of International Societies of Philosophy (FISP) in Korea this year. Since you are the president of the single biggest institution for philosophy, let me begin from a general question about the FISP itself. What are the objectives of the FISP and how it can meet the geographic needs for the philosophical development of a 'poor' country like Nepal?

W. L. M.: Thank you very much for your congratulations. As I think you already know, I am very eager to expand the range of FISP's activities and at the same time apprehensive about the possibilities, especially given the relative poverty of FISP itself. That is, we are entirely dependent on dues (and occasional small additional contributions) from member societies for our financial support, and so our annual budget is far lower than are those of some of those member societies... any case, FISP's first responsibility is the organization and sponsorship of the World Congresses of Philosophy, which take place every five years. The next one will be held in Athens in 2013. But our objectives, at least as I see them, go far beyond that. We aim, through our newsletters and other correspondence with the member societies, to serve as the hub of a sort of network of philosophy organizations worldwide. An example of how this can work is the collection of articles on the contemporary situation of philosophy in different countries and regions of the world that has been compiled, and continues to be compiled, by one of the members of our Steering Committee, Professor Maija Kule of Latvia. We maintain a website which is currently being upgraded, we have just opened an office in Paris in one of the buildings of UNESCO (though we ourselves are not a part of UNESCO), and we would like eventually to expand our capacities to circulate information about philosophy meetings everywhere. We try, as far as it is possible with our limited resources, to encourage regional meetings in all parts of the globe, with special emphasis on "poorer" countries; we collaborate with the Center for Research in Values and Philosophy, which has its headquarters in Washington but is definitely not oriented toward the Washington "Establishment", and which holds many regional meetings annually and publishes their Proceedings; we play a major role in the annual International Philosophy Olympiad for high school students; we support the annual Philosophy Day that was originally developed by UNESCO and which has been taken up as a major event by philosophical societies in many countries now; and.... , well, we simply hope to be able to do a lot more in the future!

Y. A.: Most recently, people from non-western space are strongly opposing not only western dominated political and economic institutions but also the very academic institutions that float all across the world in the name of globalism. Whatever is western is utterly imperialism for 'them'. How do you want to address their resentment? Is this resentment legitimate or just a paranoia? Should 'their' resentment preclude all of us to build a corporative global society for philosophy and humanistic studies?

W. L. M.: The answer to your last question here is obvious: Certainly not. But what lies behind the earlier part of these remarks of yours is complex and deserving of a thoughtful response. Some years ago already, I wrote a paper on "the global role of American philosophy," and in it and in other subsequent papers I have warned against imperialism in all areas, including imperialism in education in general and in philosophy in particular. We in the West and in particular in the United States have been fortunate enough to have had the resources to develop academic institutions, especially at the university level, that have been rather successful in encouraging both scientific research and intellectual exploration and reflection. …

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