The Philosophical Canon: East and West
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This paper will examine the professional bias present in our philosophy departments against identifying Eastern traditions, such as Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, as genuine philosophies that have a rightful place in the canon of philosophy. Following Anthony Flew’s lead on characterizing what will be called ‘professional philosophy,’ the paper argues that the criteria used to exclude Eastern and other traditions from the canon are in fact unsupportable biases. These criteria are that in order to be considered professionally philosophical, ideas and positions must be based on systematic arguments (based on rules of logic) that analyse for presuppositions and implications of ideas. These arguments must be directed at determining validity and soundness. While these criteria are important and perhaps even vital for defining the philosophical, they are insufficient. Insofar as pursuing truth and wisdom can be matters of going beyond adherence to these very criteria, it is argued that philosophy and its canon must be conceived more widely than is currently the case. The paper concludes with a call to revisit what we consider the canon of philosophy as a moral responsibility.