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Africa, Asia, and the History of Philosophy

Racism in the Formation of the Philosophical Canon, 1780–1830

Peter K. Park

Publication Year: 2013

A historical investigation of the exclusion of Africa and Asia from modern histories of philosophy.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiv

When I began this project more than a decade ago, I did not consider that racism could have been involved in the formation of the modern canon of philosophy. Having paid little attention to Christoph Meiners, I could not have suspected that the racist arguments of this half-forgotten ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-10

In the modern university, courses on the history of philosophy introduce students to philosophy as a discipline.1 History of philosophy courses alternate with logic courses as ways to teach students the canon of philosophy in more than one sense of the word canon. By recounting philosophy’s past (what philosophy was), the history of...

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Chapter 1: The Kantian School and the Consolidation of Modern Historiography of Philosophy

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pp. 11-30

In 1791, Karl Leonhard Reinhold (1758–1825), the important early exponent of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy, decried the lack of agreement among philosophers on what constitutes the proper object of the history of philosophy.2 There was no agreement on even a concept of philosophy.3 It remained an unresolved question whether the scientific...

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Chapter 2: The Birth of Comparative History of Philosophy: Joseph-Marie de Gérando’s Histoire comparée des systèmes de philosophie

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pp. 31-50

While the Kantian revolution in the field of history of philosophy was unfolding in Germany, another revolution in this field was occurring in France and in a neighboring corner of Germany. In this and the next chapter, I discuss the histories of philosophy by Joseph-Marie de Gérando (1772–1842) and Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829). They conceived and...

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Chapter 3: India in Friedrich Schlegel’s Comparative History of Philosophy

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pp. 51-68

Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829) was a wonderfully erratic personality. His career path led him through literary criticism, university lecturing, journalism, novel writing, Oriental philology, historical studies, and diplomacy. At the time of the French Revolution, his literary values were neo-classical; his politics pro-revolutionary; and his philosophy ...

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Chapter 4: The Exclusion of Africa and Asia from the History of Philosophy: The Formation of the Kantian Position

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pp. 69-96

At the end of the eighteenth century, the question of whether philosophy has Greek or Oriental origins became a matter of renewed debate. The last time the question was so earnestly debated may have been in ancient times. Alluding to an existing debate over the origins of philosophy, Diogenes Laertius states his position in the opening ...

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Chapter 5: Systematic Inclusion of Africa and Asia under Absolute Idealism: Friedrich Ast’s and Thaddä Anselm Rixner’s Histories of Philosophy

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pp. 97-112

As I showed in Chapter 1, Kantian thinkers strictly delimited the domain of philosophy, separating it from the domain of history. According to Reinhold, philosophy is a scientific knowledge that is independent of experience. According to Grohmann, philosophy is knowledge of a kind that is neither empirical nor temporal....

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Chapter 6: Absolute Idealism Reverts to the Kantian Position: Hegel’s Exclusion of Africa and Asia

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pp. 113-132

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, some German Orientalists saw in their translation projects the opportunity to expand the literary canon.4 For some of them, the writing of history of philosophy presented an opportunity to expand the philosophical canon. Writing the history of philosophy presented Tennemann and Hegel...

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Chapter 7: The Comparative History of Philosophy in August Tholuck’s Polemic against Hegel

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pp. 133-148

Among historians of philosophy of his generation, Hegel was exceptional in his antipathy toward the Orient, which went far beyond his disdain for the moral teachings of Confucius and the abstract thought in Indian texts. His judgment of Oriental (including Egyptian) religion and art was resoundingly negative as well. Scholars...

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pp. 149-152

The historiographers of philosophy are nearly unanimous that the writing of the history of philosophy changed fundamentally in the late eighteenth century. I argued above that Kantian philosophers were the central agents of “reform.” The methods that characterize modern historical practice, such as textual criticism and writing history from ...


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pp. 153-198


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pp. 199-220


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pp. 221-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781438446431
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438446417

Page Count: 253
Publication Year: 2013