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2017 Eastern Division Meeting

Statement on the Global Character of Philosophy
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The following statement was prepared by the committee on international cooperation and approved by the board of officers at its 1992 meeting. Originally published in Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, Vol. 66, no. 5, p. 38.

Our profession is an international one. Our association and its members have contacts of many kinds with philosophical organizations and with individual philosophers in many parts of the world. In 1998, the United States will be host to the World Congress of Philosophy. The committee on international cooperation wishes to remind all members of the American Philosophical Association that it is important to be sensitive to these links when making statements about the subdivisions of the profession and when using philosophical terminology of several kinds.

Terms such as "History of Philosophy," "Ancient Philosophy," and even "the Classics" are ambiguous. In India, for example, all three of these expressions may well be understood to refer to the ancient traditions of Indian philosophy, written in Sanskrit. In Chinese, Islamic, and African traditions, among others, similar issues would arise. It is not difficult to write "History of Western Philosophy," "Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy," and "the Greek and Latin Classics," if this is what one means. To do so indicates respect for the other traditions, whereas casual omission of the qualifying terms can be construed as suggesting neglect. (It can also be practically misleading, as when a specialist in the history of Chinese philosophy applies for a job advertised as "history of philosophy," in the expectation that his or her specialization is among those sought; usually such expectations will be disappointed.)

The board of officers recommends that members of the American Philosophical Association carefully consider these points of courtesy, in writing and editing job advertisements, publications, syllabi, and professional communications of many kinds, both formal and informal.

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