Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

Western Thought and Indian Thought: Some Comparative Steps

This article takes up the general question of the differential relation between “Western Thought and Indian Thought.” Shunning the temptation of “essentialist” simplifications, the article takes exception to popular construals of the difference in terms of the oppositions of reason versus intuition, materialism versus spiritualism, argumentation versus scriptural authority. Following a suggestive proposal advanced by the Indian poet and linguist A.K. Ramanujan, discussion in the article focuses on a distinction between different types of worldviews and modes of communication: namely, the distinction between “context-bound” or holistic and “context-free” or linear-horizontal forms of thinking and discourse. In Ramanujan's formulation, Indian culture, art, and literature are basically contextual or embedded in concrete life worlds, whereas Western thought and discourse lean toward decontextualization and thus a spectatorial “view from nowhere.” While on the whole endorsing Ramanujan's suggestion, the article also voices some critical reservations (especially concerning points where Ramanujan seems to succumb unwittingly to Western metaphysics). Fred DALLMAYR
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