Skholiast makes a key point in response to my post on perennial questions. Regarding the categories I have drawn in the history of philosophy – ascent and descent, intimacy and integrity – he notes that these categories need to be viewed as dialectical, such that different thinkers do not merely oppose each other but supersede each other. I have noted before that the categories are intended as ideal types, so real thinkers will rarely if ever fall on one side or the other; that most thinkers land somewhere in the middle is a feature of the scheme, not a bug. But Skholiast goes further. It is not merely that all of history’s great thinkers have some element of both these sides – that they are in the middle – but that they try in some respect to put them together. They aim, that is, at synthesis and not merely compromise. I addressed this point in the earlier (perennial questions) post, but wrote the post as if it’s only modern comparative philosophers like Ken Wilber who try to do this. Skholiast rightly notes that this sort of attempt to put together opposites dialectically is to be found in the West as early as Plato, and possibly before. On a question as big as ascent and descent, everyone tries to put the opposing views together to some extent.
This is a broadly Hegelian account of the history of philosophy. Judging by his use of the term Aufhebung, Skholiast has intended it to be such. My own sympathies with G.W.F. Hegel are no secret, given my influence by James Doull and his school. But while expressing my admiration for Hegel before, I also expressed my biggest concern about his system: that it fails to do justice to Asian thought. Continue reading