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Knowledge and Power


In this course, we will focus on the plurality of philosophical positions as, itself, a problem for philosophical reflection. Our study will be guided by the preoccupation with diversity, including diversity in thought, in many strands of contemporary Western philosophical reflection; yet, we will cast our net more widely for resources to address it. In considering how the nature of thought is to be understood if we are to take seriously both its power to construct incommensurable paradigms of knowledge and its power to navigate among them, we will set the stage by exploring several more familiar approaches to the problem, selecting from among those of Hegel, Nietzsche, Bakhtin, Foucault, Kuhn, et al. We will then focus on the approach proposed by Zilberman, first by explicating the paradoxes of pluralistic understanding as articulated in his essay, “On Cultural Relativism and Radical Doubt,” and then by moving on to several chapters of The Birth of Meaning in Hindu Thought and Analogy in Indian and Western Philosophical Thought. In conference, students will be able to explore, in greater depth, any of the thinkers whom we examine in class. A prior background in philosophy is desirable.