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Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and ‘Asia’s Superman’

Research paper by Purushottama Bilimoria

Indexed on: 26 Sep '08Published on: 26 Sep '08Published in: Sophia



Abstract

Nietzsche represents in an interesting way the well-worn Western approach to Asian philosophical and religious thinking: initial excitement, then neglect by appropriation, and swift rejection when found to be incompatible with one’s own tradition, whose roots are inexorably traced back to the ‘ancient’ Greeks. Yet, Nietzsche’s philosophical critique and methods - such as ‘perspectivism’ - offer an instructive route through which to better understand another tradition even if the sole purpose of this exercise is to perceive one’s own limitations through the eyes of the other: a self-destruktion of sorts. To help correct this shortcoming and begin the long overdue task of even-handed dialogue - or contemporary comparative philosophy - we will be served well by looking at Nietzsche’s mistakes, which in turn informed the tragic critic of the West of the last century, Martin Heidegger. We may learn here not to cast others in one’s own troubled image; and not to reverse cultural icons: Europe’s Superman, and Asia’s Buddha.