Shyam Ranganathan
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I am an author, philosopher, translation theorist, translator and teacher at the Department of Philosophy, York University Toronto.

I am also an associate at the York Centre for Asian Research.


My work addresses the interplay between the intellectual tradition of the West,  and the study of non-Western philosophy. The challenges that the study of non-Western philosophy pose for the Western tradition are, in my view, the challenges it faces for helping us get along in a diverse world, where the assumption of shared values and outlooks are dashed if we are open to diversity, and yet (pathologically and imperfectly) constructed by imperialism and colonialism. These challenges are surprisingly not a function of politics but approaches to thought, understanding, and translation that underwrite the Western tradition–models that reduce thought to linguistic meaning and cultural outlook.   

When I began my research, the dominant view in Indology was that Indian philosophers did not write on moral issues. Two monographs and two edited collections later, the secondary literature on Indian philosophy and ethics looks different.

 Another  outcome of my research is the finding that what we call “religion” in our world is really an artifact of dominant approaches to thought and understanding in the West (interpretation), that pose problems for understanding the alien.  (Hence, all world religions are originally non-European, yet contrary to popular opinion, they share no common doctrine or commitment: naturalism and atheism are seen a secular when they are European, but religious when they are Asian.)


While it is common to treat radical disagreement on values and norms across cultures as evidence against moral realism, I work on the idea that radical disagreement is a condition of all serious knowledge as the objective is what we can disagree about. These are ideas that I draw from the Indian tradition, and I think they help solve outstanding problems in translation but also philosophy.