A comparative assessment of Indian philosophical traditions with some of the western traditions may appear a tempting enterprise. However, the semantic positioning of the concepts forming the foundations of the two respective traditions poses a formidable challenge in bringing the two together within a single framework of abstractions. The difficulty is compounded by the colonial history of unequal power positions impacting philosophical traditions. However, the rapid shift from imagination to memory in technology and knowledge-transactions in recent decades, and the profound changes taking place in the nature of human cognition, may provide us an opening in this direction in future.
This Introduction outlines changing concepts of knowledge from the Platonic ‘justified true belief’ to central theses of present-day Knowledge Research, which emphasise the embeddedness of knowledge production in historical, cultural, political, economic, and medial power constellations. Thus, the entanglement of knowledge and power under colonial conditions manifests its legacy in the current deprecation of non-Western knowledge traditions, as critics from India and other postcolonial nations have pointed out. In contradistinction to such hierarchisations of knowledge forms, contemporary Knowledge Research in the West conceptualises knowledge cultures, where propositional and non-propositional knowledge forms - like aesthetic perceptions - under specific conditions are recognised as different, yet equally valid and limited ways of being in and appropriations of the world. As this anthology brings together English and German contributions, the introduction finally offers comprehensive summaries of the individual essays in order to facilitate a panoramic overview of the analyses and central theses gathered in this book for all readers.
In the 1620s, the expansionist politics of the Dutch West India Company focussed on areas of present-day Brazil, then colonised by the Portuguese. For only a few years, the United Provinces appropriated the North-Eastern part of the country, where Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen spent seven years as Governor of Dutch Brazil (1636-1643). Johan Maurits presented himself as a humanistic ruler whose entourage included artists and scholars, like the painters Albert Eckhout and Frans Post, the physician Willem Piso and the German naturalist and astronomer Georg Markgraf. The artists and explorers produced knowledge about the country and its populations which proved to be formative for the next two centuries - based on close observation and simultaneously with the distanced gaze of the colonist. The essay focuses on a picture series, which Eckhout perhaps painted for the residence in Mauritsstad (todays Recife). It consists of a serial typology of different peoples of the region and still lifes. Especially the still lifes - as exponents of a genre central for Dutch painting - expose negotiations between the artist’s knowledge of genre traditions, the Eurocentric hierarchies implied in colonial knowledge formations and his individual experience of landscape and people. The presentation will analyse the transformation of traditional artists’ knowledge in conflict with individual experience of alterity, framed by the conditions of colonialism.
This paper addresses the question of what the heart (or the “nature”) of science is. After a short introduction, I will first make a few preliminary historical and systematic remarks. Next, in answering the main question, I shall propose the following thesis: Scientific knowledge is primarily distinguished from other forms of knowledge, especially from everyday knowledge, by being more systematic. This thesis has to be qualified, clarified, developed and justified. In particular, I will develop the thesis in nine dimensions in which it is claimed that science is more systematic than everyday knowledge: regarding descriptions, explanations, predictions, the defense of knowledge claims, critical discourse, epistemic connectedness, an ideal of completeness, knowledge generation and the structure and representation of knowledge. Finally, I will compare my answer with alternative answers.
It is far more judicious to trust in scientificity than in science, namely that research follows the rules of rationality, and that analysis and interpretation are constantly monitored critically. The sciences are not defined by their truth claims, but by their constant self-criticism as the driving force behind all progress to produce more and better knowledge. In this respect, there is hardly any difference between the natural sciences and the humanities.