A great deal of contemporary philosophy is very specialized, and the value of this is widely recognized. Comparative or cross-cultural philosophy, however, presents certain challenges to the model of specialization prevalent in the current academy. Comparativists must be plural specialists, bringing expertise in multiple areas to bear on their avenues of inquiry. This can, in turn, lead to a certain view of comparativists as being somewhat “eclectic” in contrast to their specialized peers. In this presentation, I suggest that there is a kind of “uncanny goodness” to being philosophically eclectic, whether that be cross-cultural or not. I argue that being eclectic is valuable for both philosophical and political reasons, and that we ought to resist the silo-effect of contemporary academic work. In doing so, I draw examples from the interdisciplinary philosophical approach of my latest book, Exploring the Heart Sutra, as well as from other comparative sources.
Sarah Mattice is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of North Florida. She specializes in comparative philosophy, with a focus on East Asia. Her published works include Exploring the Heart Sutra (2021) and Metaphor and Metaphilosophy: Philosophy as Combat, Play, and Aesthetic Experience (2014), as well as book chapters and journal articles on topics in Buddhism, Ruism (Confucianism), Daoism, hermeneutics, aesthetics, pedagogy, and feminist philosophy.