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Columbia University Press
Crossing Horizons: World, Self, and Language in Indian and Western Thought

Crossing Horizons: World, Self, and Language in Indian and Western Thought

by Shlomo Biderman, Ornan Rotem


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Crossing Horizons: World, Self, and Language in Indian and Western Thought

In this book, Shlomo Biderman examines the views, outlooks, and attitudes of two distinct cultures: the West and classical India. He turns to a rich and varied collection of primary sources: the Rg Veda, the Upanishads, and texts by the Buddhist philosophers Någårjuna and Vasubandhu, among others. In studying the West, Biderman considers the Bible and its commentaries, the writings of such philosophers as Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, and Derrida, and the literature of Kafka, Melville, and Orwell. Additional sources are Mozart's Don Giovanni and seminal films like Ingmar Bergman's Persona.

Biderman uses concrete examples from religion and literature to illustrate the formal aspects of the philosophical problems of transcendence, language, selfhood, and the external world and then demonstrates their plausibility in actual situations. Though his method of analysis is comparative, Biderman does not adopt the disinterested stance of an "ideal" spectator. Rather, Biderman approaches ancient Indian thought and culture from a Western philosophical standpoint to uncover cultural presuppositions that can be difficult to expose from within the culture in question.

The result is a fascinating landmark in the study of Indian and Western thought. Through his comparative prism, Biderman explores the most basic ideas underlying human culture, and his investigation not only sheds light on India's philosophical traditions but also facilitates a deeper understanding of our own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231140249
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 02/01/2008
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Shlomo Biderman is professor of philosophy and dean of the Faculty of the Humanities at Tel Aviv University. He has published widely in the fields of comparative and Indian philosophy.

Table of Contents

1. Far and Beyond: Transcendence in Two Cultures
2. One Language, Many Things: On the Origins of Language
3. My-Self: Descartes and Early Upani ṣads on the Self
4. No-Self: Kant, Kafka, and Nāgārjuna on the Disappearing Self
5. "It's All in the Mind": Berkeley, Vasubandhu, and the World Out There
Bibliographical Notes

What People are Saying About This

Hilary Putnam

Upon reading this book, I was struck from the very beginning by the originality of Shlomo Biderman's approach, the breadth and profundity of his scholarship, and the sophistication of his judgments. While fully appreciating what is right in criticisms of the older, 'Orientalist,' style of comparative philosophy, Biderman brilliantly points out the ways in which currently trendy postmodernist writers frequently fall into formulations that are just as oversimplified and inadequate as those of their modernist and Victorian predecessors. The value of Biderman's conception of comparative philosophy lies precisely in making evident our own cultural assumptions—which have been accepted by almost every Western philosopher from Parmenides to the present day.

Laurie L. Patton

This book will make a significant contribution to the nascent but growing literature in comparative philosophy that focuses on basic human questions while continuing to observe philosophical rigor.

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