Just how Chinese is Chinese philosophy?


Chinese philosophy is conventionally presented as a hermetically-sealed, self-generating system that exported ideas to neighbouring cultures. But what if it was an importer of ideas as well? A new research perspective reveals that Chinese philosophy is in fact the product of sustained engagement with ideas that are not Chinese, but Indian. Over the past millennium Chinese intellectuals have been part of this much larger creative process, appropriating Indian concepts and styles of reasoning, resulting in a far more complex and richer picture than has previously been recognised. The question then remains: just what is it that purportedly makes Chinese philosophy unique and 'exceptional'?


John Makeham

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