Bryan W. Van Norden


On his book Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto

Cover Interview of December 10, 2017


I hope readers of my book will enjoy my take-no-prisoners attack on intellectual parochialism. However, my book also gives people a chance to learn about philosophy (particularly Chinese and Western) in a fun and accessible way. I give a tour of some of the great issues that philosophers discuss, explain why they are important to all of our lives, and show how engaging in a cross-cultural dialogue on these issues is valuable and productive. If you are a Western philosophy “purist,” parts of this book will enrage you, but other parts will help you see more deeply why philosophy has been around for more than two millennia, and will never go away.

My book is not claiming that all Western philosophy is bad and all non-Western philosophy is good. There are people who talk like that, but my book is about tearing down walls, not building new ones. As I say in the book’s conclusion:

I too desire to bask in the lunar glow of Plato’s genius, and walk side by side with Aristotle through the sacred grounds of the Lyceum. But I also want to “follow the path of questioning and learning” with Zhu Xi, and discuss the “Middle Way” of the Buddha. I’m sure you and I will not agree about which is the best way for one to live.

Let’s discuss it…