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Skorokhodova, T. G. ‘I am Myself as the Other’: Philosopher of the Bengali Renaissance and His Dialogue with the West

Published in journal "Philosophy and Culture", 2014-4 in rubric "The dialogue of cultures", pages 563-573.

Resume: The author of the article describes personal qualities of Oriental actors in communication with the West. Based on the example of new Indian intellectuals — philosophers of the Bengali Renaissance (from the XIXth till the first third of the XXth century), the researcher shows the difference and similarity of their personal position. These philosophers are the Others both for their Indian surroundings and Western actors of the cross-cultural communication. Along with the Indian identity, this difference defines the specific role of Bengali philosophers and their work created in the dialogue with the West. The methodological basis of the research is the concept ‘Soi-mêmecommeunautre’ (I am Myself as the Other) offered by Paul Ricoeur. The research is based on the methods of phenomenological hermeneutics and analysis of sources telling us about the development of the Bengali Renaissance. The scientific importance and novelty of the research are determined by the demonstration of opportunities of applying Paul Ricoeur’s concept to studying the phenomenon of non-Western intellectuals of the epoch of traditional societies’ modernization and describing that phenomenon based on the Indian sources. The results of the research show that a Bengali philosopher of that epoch acted like an autonomous Western personality that grew up in the Indian environment which allowed him to communicate with the West on equal grounds. His ability to speak a foreign language gives more opportunities for a philosopher to understand the West as the Other. At the same time, a Bengali philosopher explores his own country and reveals advantages of his native land in the course of communication with the West. The philosopher undertakes the initiative and responsibility for his own thoughts, reformative and cultural activity which makes his understanding of the West and India even more fundamental.

Keywords: cultural research, I am Myself as the Other, Indian philosophy, Bengali Renaissance, understanding of the Other, cross-cultural communication (dialogue), problematic philosopher, dialogue with the West, identity, difference.

DOI: 10.7256/1999-2793.2014.4.11109

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