PHILOsophy

Asia is the birthplace of a number of the world's great 'civilizational' philosophies including Buddhism

from Nepal, Confucianism and Taoism from China, and a number of Indic philosophies from India.

Studies of ancient Asian civilizations have revealed both tremendous diversity and profound depth of

thought concerning the workings of the natural world, ethics, politics, society and life itself. In recent

centuries there has been something of a renaissance in Asian philosophical thinking. Under the rubric of

"the common destiny of human civilization" put forward by China, Professor Liu Xiaoting has recently

raised the question of a distinctively Asian philosophy as a subject that every Asian philosopher must

reflect upon. Exchanges between Asian and Western schools of thought have been going on for

centuries, and have created greater understanding and mutual appreciation. During the colonial era

parts of Asia also endured bitter experiences with the imposition of Western concepts of civilizational

superiority. However from the 19th century it is Marxism that has arguably been the most influential

Western philosophy in terms of both theory and practice, as witnessed by its role in the great Asian

liberation movements and the fact that Asia has the greatest number of socialist countries in the world

today. At this time, however, besides the rise of extreme sectarian nationalism under the banner of

Hindutva in India, throughout the region one can also observe deep inroads at the individual, societal

and national levels, of Western economic neoliberalism, consumerism, and individualism. Such inroads

are occurring in the most populous part of the globe at a time of unprecedented global ecological crisis;

a time when the survival of not just this or that civilization, but humanity itself depends upon wise and

bold collective action. At this juncture we believe it is a critical task to study both Asian philosophies and

Marxism in depth, and to explore their commonalities, differences, points of intersection, and the

possibilities for their practical application to the socio-political, cultural and ecological challenges of our

times.

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