If the past is a different country, are different countries in the past?

(On the Place of the Non-European in the History of Philosophy)

C. S. Goto-Jones a1
a1 University of Nottingham


It is often asserted that even our own past is a foreign country: the ideas of past thinkers are, in some ways, alien to us today. For the European historian of non-European philosophy, not only is the past held to be a different country, but it is also the past of a different country. This is both convenient and problematic all at once. The ‘Western’ historian of non-European philosophy faces a double separation from his/her subject matter; she is both a foreigner and an alien. In this paper, I approach questions of how this historian should orientate herself towards her subject, and why she (and we) should care about it at all.