Knowledge and Philosophy
A significant contribution of Europe is the development of humanism as a philosophico-ethical stance ensuring a brighter future for mankind by highlighting the faculty of reason. The key focus was on human potential, dignity, individual freedom, and ability to shape a better future without recourse to any supernatural intervention. One of the reasons for its repeated failures is the underlying Western ‘metaphysics’ rooted in the one-sided emphasis on value-loaded oppositions – self-other, etc. – that became a target of deconstructionist attack by Jacque Derrida.
In order to liberate Humanism from alleged anthropo- and ethnocentric biases, the German historian Jörn Rüsen visualized the importance of interculturality in his ‘New Humanism’ project that seeks to incorporate humanistic ideas from major traditions outside Europe: Far Eastern, Indian (including Buddhist), Islamic, African and Latin American. In this paper, an attempt is being made to discuss Asian forms of humanism, especially those associated with the teachings of the Buddha, Laozi and Confucius that are consistent with the idea of connectedness and harmony, also approved by Modern Physics in the West itself. Donald K. Miller has highlighted an urgent need for a paradigm shift from the existing preoccupation with ‘a higher level of certitude and narrow-range of interpretation’ to one of ‘lower level of certitude to wider-range of interpretation’. It is finally suggested that scholars of European and Asian traditions should work together towards evolving a better understanding of humanism in its broadest/inclusive sense by modifying, if necessary, the underlying paradigms and logical foundations.