Pieces on Non-‘Western’ Philosophy for a General Audience: A List

Welcome! This is an open list of resources for the general public on non-‘Western’ traditions of philosophy. I hope to expand and keep it updated over time, so please do send good pieces my way (acp458@nyu.edu or @abiralcp on Twitter) - especially regarding traditions underrepresented here! 

As you can see, I’ve done it as a bibliography. I’ve more-or-less used the guidelines from the Chicago Manual of Style, guidelines here and here.

A note on selections. Some of the pieces are a little more or a little less for non-academic audiences, and some straddle the line with intellectual history. I’ve used a broad brush and left in pieces I think would be useful for anyone from general readers to students of philosophy (like myself!) who are interested in these traditions.

A note on the categories. The categories aren’t supposed to imply internal homogeneity (e.g. Aztec philosophy is different in many ways from North American indigenous philosophies), or exclusivity (e.g. Buddhism cuts across South Asia and China), or exhaustiveness (e.g. I was unable to find any good non-specialist pieces on either Aboriginal Australian or Māori philosophy, though I know academic philosophers have done work on them). These categories are just a rough geographical way to sort things initially until/unless someone suggests a more useful way. At some point I’ll have a go at making a sortable table for all of these that people can modify as they like.

Metaphilosophy & General Comparative

Baggini, Julian. ‘About time: why western philosophy can only teach us so much’. The Guardian, 25 September, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/25/about-time-why-western-philosophy-can-only-teach-us-so-much

Garfield, Jay L. and Bryan W. Van Norden. ‘If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is’. The New York Times, 11 May, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/11/opinion/if-philosophy-wont-diversify-lets-call-it-what-it-really-is.html

Herbjørnsrud, Dag. ‘First women of philosophy’. Aeon, 23 November, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/before-the-canon-the-non-european-women-who-founded-philosophy

Krishnamurthy, Meena. ‘Decolonizing Analytic Political Philosophy’. Philosopher, 3 June, 2016. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2016/06/03/meenakrishnamurthy/

Levine, Peter. ‘The lack of diversity in philosophy is blocking its progress’. Aeon, 28 June, 2016. https://aeon.co/ideas/the-lack-of-diversity-in-philosophy-is-blocking-its-progress

McLeod, Alexus. ‘Comparative Philosophy in an Age of Cultural Chauvinism (or “The Art of Traveling Without Traveling”)’. Philosopher, 23 February, 2017. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/02/23/featured-philosopher-alexus-mcleod/

Smith, Justin E. H. ‘What is “Non-Western” Philosophy?’ 3 Quarks Daily, 7 December, 2009. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2009/12/is-philosophy-western-part-i.html

Smith, Justin E. H. ‘Philosophy’s Western Bias’. The New York Times, 3 June, 2012. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/philosophys-western-bias/

Strickland, Lloyd. ‘How Western Philosophy Became Racist’. iai News, The Institute of Art and Ideas, 10 January, 2019. https://iai.tv/articles/the-racism-of-the-western-philosophy-canon-auid-1200

Van der Velden, Miguel. ‘Indigenous Philosophies’. Philosophy Now, 127, August 2018. http://philosophynow.org/issues/127/Indigenous_Philosophies

Van Norden, Bryan W. ‘Western philosophy is racist’. Aeon, 31 October, 2017. https://aeon.co/essays/why-the-western-philosophical-canon-is-xenophobic-and-racist

Vargas, Manuel R. ‘If Anglo-American philosophy is so great, where is its Las Casas?’ Philosopher, 12 May, 2017. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/05/12/featured-philosopher-manuel-vargas/


Agada, Ada. ‘A truly African philosophy’. Aeon, 27 September, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/consolation-philosophy-and-the-struggle-of-reason-in-africa

Eze, Emmanuel. ‘African Philosophy’. Interview by Rick Lewis. Philosophy Now, Spring 1999. https://philosophynow.org/issues/23/African_Philosophy

Birhane, Abeba. ‘Descartes was wrong: “a person is a person through other persons”’. Aeon, 7 April, 2017. https://aeon.co/amp/ideas/descartes-was-wrong-a-person-is-a-person-through-other-persons

Flegel, Peter. ‘Does Western Philosophy Have Egyptian Roots?’ Philosophy Now, 128, October 2018. http://philosophynow.org/issues/128/Does_Western_Philosophy_Have_Egyptian_Roots

Flikschuh, Katrin. ‘What You Should Know About Contemporary African Philosophy’. iai News, The Institute of Art and Ideas, 12 March, 2018. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-you-should-know-about-contemporary-african-philosophy-auid-1047

Graness, Anke. ‘Philosophy in Africa - A Case of Epistemic Injustice in the Academy’. Philosopher, 6 March, 2016. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2016/03/06/featured-philosop-her-anke-graness/

Herbjørnsrud, Dag. ‘The African Enlightenment’. Aeon, 13 December, 2017. https://aeon.co/essays/yacob-and-amo-africas-precursors-to-locke-hume-and-kant

Herbjørnsrud, Dag. ‘The Radical Philosophy of Egypt’. Blog of the APA, The American Philosophical Association, 17 December, 2018. https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/12/17/the-radical-philosophy-of-egypt-forget-god-and-family-write/

Ochieng, Omedi. ‘African Philosophy Is More Than You Think It Is’. iai News, The Institute of Art and Ideas, 20 June, 2018. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/african-philosophy-is-more-than-you-think-it-is-auid-1097

Ochieng, Omedi. ‘What African Philosophy Can Teach You About the Good Life’. iai News, 68, 10 September, 2018. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/what-african-philosophy-can-teach-you-about-the-good-life-auid-1147

[Anyone interested in Africana philosophy should also check out this ongoing series in Professor Peter Adamson’s podcast (this section co-authored with Professor Chike Jeffers).]


HolyWhiteMountain, Sterling. ‘Sterling HolyWhiteMountain on Blood Quantum, “Native Art”, and Cultural Appropriation’. Interview by Matt Strohl. Aesthetics for Birds, 31 January, 2019. https://aestheticsforbirds.com/2019/01/31/sterling-holywhitemountain-on-blood-quantum-native-art-and-cultural-appropriation/

Purcell, Sebastian. ‘What the Aztecs can teach us about happiness and the good life’. Aeon, 11 November, 2016. https://aeon.co/ideas/what-the-aztecs-can-teach-us-about-happiness-and-the-good-life

Purcell, Sebastian. ‘Life on the slippery Earth’. Aeon, 3 July, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/aztec-moral-philosophy-didnt-expect-anyone-to-be-a-saint

Uranga, Emilio. ‘The Philosophy of Mexicanness’. Translated by Carlos Alberto Sanchez. Aeon, 25 June, 2018. https://aeon.co/classics/to-be-accidental-is-to-be-human-on-the-philosophy-of-mexicanness

Whyte, Kyle. ‘Conveners of Responsibilities’. Center for Humans & Nature. https://www.humansandnature.org/earth-ethic-kyle-powys-whyte

Whyte, Kyle. ‘Indigenous Research and Professional Philosophy in the U.S.’ Philosopher, 3 February, 2017. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/02/03/featured-philosopher-kyle-whyte/

[If you’re interested in Indigenous philosophies, you might be interested in having a look through the APA’s Newsletter on Native American and Indigenous Philosophers. If you’re interested in Indigenous philosophies as they relate to the environment and climate change, Professor Kyle Whyte has an extensive two-part bibliography of materials, which you should definitely check out!]

China & East Asia

Adamson, Peter. ‘Can Confucians Have Friends?’ Philosophy Now, 126, June, 2018. https://philosophynow.org/issues/126/Can_Confucians_Have_Friends

Arnold, Dan, and Alicia Turner. ‘Why Are We Surprised When Buddhists Are Violent?’ The New York Times, 5 March, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/05/opinion/buddhists-violence-tolerance.html

Asma, Stephen T. ‘The Enigma of Chinese Medicine’. The New York Times, 28 September, 2013. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/the-enigma-of-chinese-medicine/

Asma, Stephen T. ‘From China, With Pragmatism’. The New York Times, 8 June, 2014. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/08/from-china-with-pragmatism/

Asma, Stephen T. ‘Was Bo Diddley a Buddha?’ The New York Times, 10 April, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/opinion/was-bo-diddley-a-buddha.html

Baggini, Julian. ‘What Is the Self? It Depends’. The New York Times, 8 February, 2016. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/08/the-self-in-east-and-west/

Baum, Emily. ‘Collective psychiatry’. Aeon, 17 December, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/why-china-held-on-to-the-political-ideal-of-mental-hygiene

Buckingham, Will. ‘The uncertainty machine’. Aeon, 11 October, 2013. https://aeon.co/essays/forget-prophecy-the-i-ching-is-an-uncertainty-machine

Buckley, Chris. ‘Leader Taps Into Chinese Classics in Seeking to Cement Power’. The New York Times, 11 October, 2014. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/world/leader-taps-into-chinese-classics-in-seeking-to-cement-power.html

Crane, Sam. ‘What Confucius Teaches Us About Modern American Justice’. The Atlantic, 10 December, 2013. https://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/12/what-confucius-teaches-us-about-modern-american-justice/282220/

Curzer, Howard J. ‘Ancient Eastern Advice for Modern Western Problems’. Review of The Path by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. Los Angeles Review of Books, 26 July, 2017. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/ancient-eastern-advice-for-modern-western-problems

Han, Byung-Chul. ‘The copy is the original’. Aeon, 8 March, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/why-in-china-and-japan-a-copy-is-just-as-good-as-an-original

Herbjørnsrud, Dag. ‘Global History of Ideas: A Sea for Fish on Dry Land’. JHIBlog, Journal of the History of Ideas, 15 February, 2017. https://jhiblog.org/2017/02/15/global-history-of-ideas-a-sea-for-fish-on-dry-land/

Imamkhodjaeva, Oidinposha. ‘Non-Violent Voices’. Philosophy Now, 124, March 2018. https://philosophynow.org/issues/124/Non-Violent_Voices

Lai, Karyn. ‘So You Want to Teach Some Chinese Philosophy?’ Blog of the APA, The American Philosophical Association, 22 October, 2018. https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/10/22/so-you-want-to-teach-some-chinese-philosophy/

Olberding, Amy. ‘The Moral Gravity of Mere Trifles’. theForum, LSE, 29 May, 2017. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/theforum/meretrifles/

Olberding, Amy. ‘Is the death of an elder worse than the death of a young person?’ Aeon, 20 November, 2017. https://aeon.co/ideas/the-death-of-our-elders-not-the-young-is-the-worse-loss

Ramsey, John. ‘Mengzi’s Moral Psychology, Part 1: The Four Moral Sprouts’. 1000-Word Philosophy, 10 April, 2018. https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2018/04/10/mengzis-moral-psychology-part-1-the-four-moral-sprouts/

Ramsey, John. ‘Mengzi’s Moral Psychology, Part 2: The Cultivation Analogy’. 1000-Word Philosophy, 10 April, 2018. https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2018/04/10/mengzis-moral-psychology-part-2-the-cultivation-analogy/

Schneider, Henrique. ‘How To Establish Social Order? Three Early Chinese Answers’. 1000-Word Philosophy, 9 July, 2018. https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2018/07/09/how-to-establish-social-order-three-early-chinese-answers/

Tu, Wei-Ming. ‘Interview with Tu Wei-Ming’. Interview by Anja Steinbauer. Philosophy Now, 23, Spring 1999. https://philosophynow.org/issues/23/Interview_with_Tu_Wei-ming

Tu, Wei-Ming. ‘Tu Wei-Ming’. Interview by David Volodzko. Philosophy Now, 117, January, 2017. https://philosophynow.org/issues/117/Tu_Weiming

Van Norden, Bryan W. ‘Confucius on Gay Marriage’. The Diplomat, 13 July, 2015. https://thediplomat.com/2015/07/confucius-on-gay-marriage/

Van Norden, Bryan W. ‘The second sage’. Aeon, 31 October, 2016. https://aeon.co/essays/the-influential-confucian-philosopher-you-ve-never-heard-of

Victoria, Brian. ‘Breath of life’. Aeon, 20 December, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/shinto-shows-the-debt-to-animism-of-organised-religions-today

Wong, David. ‘Crossing Cultures in Moral Psychology’. Philosophy Now, 36, July 2002. https://philosophynow.org/issues/36/Crossing_Cultures_in_Moral_Psychology

Zhuang Zi. ‘Chapter One: Wandering Far and Unfettered’. Translated by Brook Ziporyn. Aeon, 5 November, 2018. https://aeon.co/classics/on-the-path-to-improvement-follow-the-jester-not-the-sage

Islamic World

Adamson, Peter. ‘What can Avicenna teach us about the mind-body problem?’ Aeon, 9 September, 2016. https://aeon.co/ideas/what-can-avicenna-teach-us-about-the-mind-body-problem

Adamson, Peter. ‘Arabic translators did far more than just preserve Greek philosophy’. Aeon, 4 November, 2016. https://aeon.co/ideas/arabic-translators-did-far-more-than-just-preserve-greek-philosophy

Adamson, Peter. ‘If Aquinas is a philosopher then so are the Islamic theologians’. Aeon, 10 February, 2017. https://aeon.co/ideas/if-aquinas-is-a-philosopher-then-so-are-the-islamic-theologians

Adamson, Peter. ‘When philosophy needed Muslims, Jews and Christians alike’. Aeon, 21 April, 2017. https://aeon.co/ideas/when-philosophy-needed-muslims-jews-and-christians-alike

Adamson, Peter. ‘So You Want to Teach Some Islamic Philosophy?’ Blog of the APA, The American Philosophical Association, 3 September, 2018. https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/09/03/so-you-want-to-teach-some-islamic-philosophy/

Al-Jubouri, Imadaldin. ‘Human Acts in Islamic Philosophy’. Philosophy Now, 47, August, 2004. https://philosophynow.org/issues/47/Human_Acts_in_Islamic_Philosophy

Al-Jubouri, Imadaldin. ‘Ibn Khaldun and the Philosophy of History’. Philosophy Now, 50, March, 2005. https://philosophynow.org/issues/50/Ibn_Khaldun_and_the_Philosophy_of_History

Al-Jubouri, Imadaldin. ‘Islamic Rationalism’. Philosophy Now, 60, March, 2007. https://philosophynow.org/issues/60/Islamic_Rationalism

Dabashi, Hamid. ‘Found in Translation’. The New York Times, 28 July, 2013. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/found-in-translation/

Fraenkel, Carlos. ‘Deprovincializing Philosophy’. Review of Philosophy in the Islamic World by Peter Adamson. Los Angeles Review of Books, 29 July, 2017. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/deprovincializing-philosophy/

Lall, Rashmee Roshan. ‘How Al-Farabi drew on Plato to argue for censorship in Islam’. Aeon, 12 November, 2018. https://aeon.co/ideas/how-al-farabi-drew-on-plato-to-argue-for-censorship-in-islam

[Anyone interested in the history of philosophy in the Islamic World should head to this section of Professor Adamson’s podcast!]

South Asia

Adamson, Peter. ‘Meat is Murder’. Philosophy Now, 113, May, 2016. https://philosophynow.org/issues/113/Meat_is_Murder

Barrett, Lisa Feldman, and John Dunne. ‘Buddhists in love’. Aeon, 4 June, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/does-buddhist-detachment-allow-for-a-healthier-togetherness

Chabal, Emile. ‘The voice of Hobsbawm’. Aeon, 8 October, 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/how-eric-hobsbawm-helped-shape-the-global-marxist-imagination

Das, Akhandadhi. ‘Modern technology is akin to the metaphysics of Vedanta’. Aeon, 2 January, 2019. https://aeon.co/ideas/modern-technology-is-akin-to-the-metaphysics-of-vedanta

Flood, Gavin. ‘The Secrets of the Tantric Body’. iai News, The Institute of Arts and Ideas, 8 July, 2018. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/the-story-of-the-tantric-body-auid-1106

Ganeri, Jonardon. ‘What Would Krishna Do? Or Shiva? Or Vishnu?’ Interview by Gary Gutting. The New York Times, 3 August, 2014. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/what-would-krishna-do-or-shiva-or-vishnu/

Ganeri, Jonardon. ‘The tree of knowledge is not an apple or an oak but a banyan’. Aeon, 23 June, 2017. https://aeon.co/ideas/the-tree-of-knowledge-is-not-an-apple-or-an-oak-but-a-banyan

Ganeri, Jonardon. ‘So You Want to Teach Some Indian Philosophy?’ Blog of the APA, The American Philosophical Association, 8 October, 2018. https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/10/08/so-you-want-to-teach-some-indian-philosophy/

Garfield, Jay L. ‘What Does Buddhism Require?’ Interview by Gary Gutting. The New York Times, 27 April, 2014. https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/what-does-buddhism-require

Garfield, Jay L. ‘Why There Is No Self: A Buddhist Perspective for the West’. iai News, The Institute of Arts and Ideas, 21 February, 2018. https://iainews.iai.tv/articles/why-there-is-no-self-a-buddhist-perspective-for-the-west-auid-1044

Gopnik, Alison. ‘How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Me Solve My Midlife Crisis’. The Atlantic, October 2015. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/how-david-hume-helped-me-solve-my-midlife-crisis/403195/


Javanaud, Katie. ‘Buddhism and self-deception’. Aeon, 24 January, 2019. https://aeon.co/essays/how-buddhism-resolves-the-paradox-of-self-deception

Jones, Nicholaos. ‘Dharma in Abhidharma Buddhism’. 1000-Word Philosophy, 1 June, 2018. https://1000wordphilosophy.com/2018/06/01/dharma-in-abhidharma-buddhism/

Krishnamurthy, Meena. ‘Mainstreaming Indian Political Philosophy’. Philosopher, 16 April, 2017. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/04/16/featured-philosopher-meena-krishnamurthy-3/

Lopez, Donald S. ‘The Buddhist monk who became an apostle for sexual freedom’. Aeon, 3 September, 2018. https://aeon.co/ideas/the-buddhist-monk-who-became-an-apostle-for-sexual-freedom

Macaro, Antonia. ‘Is meditating on death like putting on a fur coat in summer?’ Aeon, 30 March, 2018. https://aeon.co/ideas/is-meditating-on-death-like-putting-on-a-fur-coat-in-summer

Priest, Graham. ‘Beyond true and false’. Aeon, 5 May, 2014. https://aeon.co/essays/the-logic-of-buddhist-philosophy-goes-beyond-simple-truth

Sinha, Shalini. ‘Notes on Cross-Cultural Philosophy’. Philosopher, 21 July, 2017. https://politicalphilosopher.net/2017/07/21/featured-philosopher-shalini-sinha/

Sorabji, Richard. ‘Gandhi the philosopher’. Aeon, 22 November, 2017. https://aeon.co/essays/gandhi-was-a-subtle-surprising-philosopher-in-the-stoic-style

Wright, Robert. ‘Buddhism Is More “Western” Than You Think’. The New York Times, 6 November, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/06/opinion/buddhism-western-philosophy.html

Wright, Robert. ‘What is nirvana?’ Aeon, 10 May 2018. https://aeon.co/essays/nirvana-can-seem-an-exotic-metaphysical-idea-until-you-look-closer

[Anyone interested in the history of philosophy in South Asia should head to this section of Professor Adamson’s podcast (this section co-authored with Professor Jonardon Ganeri).]