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Comparative philosophy tackled by visiting lecturers

Two foreign lecturers discussed the purpose and perils of comparative philosophy during the 1st International Horace B. Silliman Lecture Series last July 31 at AVT 1.

“Comparative philosophy happens whenever you mix and match the ideas or values of two different cultures and try to come up with what will work best in your life,” said Dr. John Holder, a philosophy professor of St. Norbert College, Wisconsin, USA.

Holder said that Filipinos need to understand comparative philosophy to better understand the values and principles of Filipinos.

“The colonialism of various races such as the Spanish, Japanese, and American here in the Philippines has resulted to the different cultures the Filipinos have been practicing since then,” Holder said.

Holder also said that comparative philosophy in our country is seen on the “multiplicity of Indo-European languages in the Philippines.”

The Philippines as a country, according to him, does not solely use a single language but instead use various languages with the influences of the Spanish, Japanese, and American race.

“Comparative philosophy is not just developing an awareness of what other philosophers in other civilizations have thought; it is also providing an opening to recast live philosophical problems,” Holder said.

However, Holder also added that there are some perils of pursuing comparative philosophy. He said that a comparative philosopher must master one or more widely separated philosophical traditions.

“Expertise in Western or Asian or African philosophical traditions requires extensive training in the languages of the relevant texts,” he said.

On the other hand, Dr. Jong Ho Choi, a theologian from the Presbyterian Theological College, Dumaguete City, said that philosophy and theology lead people to communicate and develop a dialogue with God.

Choi said that one can find questions in philosophy and answers in theology.

“There is reason in philosophy and there is revelation in theology,” Choi said.

Choi added that a life of sensation cannot satisfy human beings because human beings are a unique synthesis of body and soul, finite and infinite, temporal, and eternal.

“Life is an adventure that is just a dialogue with God,” Choi said.

Asst. Prof. Arvin Revagorda of the Silliman University (SU) Philosophy Program Department, said in the lecture that comparative philosophy can teach one person the value of openness.

“Openness should bring us better to what we believe. Other people are not a threat. They are blessings and not a curse. What we believe, we should complement it with what we could get from them,” Revagorda said.

Knowing that Filipinos are threatened with calamities, problems in finances, and other everyday problems, Revagorda said that “knowing oneself is the key in creating a personal and intimate relationship with God.”

“We can face it and there’s no impossible thing to carry with God,” Revagorda added.

The lecture was spearheaded by the SU Philosophy Program Department.

By Leslie Batallones

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