The Question of Methodology in Comparative Philosophy


  • Andrew Onwudinjo Institute of Humanities (IOH), Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos
  • Abayomi Sharomi, PhD Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos


Comparative Philosophy, Phenomenology, Ethnophilosophy, Polylogue


This paper argues that the question of the method used in comparative
philosophy is critical to the success of the project of comparison because'the
method'is as essential as the subject under examination. We identifytwo notable
perspectives in comparative philosophy. First, comparative philosophy can
mean the comparison 'philosophies' (i.e.ideas, texts, or aims of different
philosophical traditions), where the primary focus is the comparisons
themselves. Second, comparative philosophy can also mean philosophical
reflection on the nature of comparison itself, where the primary focus is the
development of a philosophic account of what comparison is and how it is best
carried out. Without prejudice to the first perspective, this paper emphasizes the
latter because lesser research attention has been paid to it, yet it is important.
Its importance is based on its potential to enrich discourse in different
traditions. We advocate an open-minded approach of reflection and evaluation
which dispassionately assesses the conceptions of different traditions in their
quest to understand man, nature and realities. Upon an analysis of several
methods used in comparative philosophy, we contend that leaning towards a
particular method attuned to a tradition while attempting comparison with
other traditions of philosophy will not justly bring out the essence of such other
tradition. Furthermore, attempting to evolve a world philosophy using a
particular methodology would defeat its purpose. Thus, the inclusive nature of
reflection and evaluation accommodates diverse points of view (without losing
focus of the essence of the phenomena under study).


Aich, Tapas Kumar “Buddha Philosophy and Western Psychology,” Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 55, suppl. 2 (2013): 165-70.

Angle, Stephen “The Minimal Definition and Methodology of Comparative Philosophy: A Report from a Conference,” Comparative Philosophy 1 no. 1 (2010): 102-115.

Balslev, Anindiva “Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Conversation: Some Comments on the Project of Comparative Philosophy,” Metaphilosophy, 8 no. 24 (1997): 349-362.

Burik, Steven The End of Comparative Philosophy and the task of Comparative Thinking: Heidegger, Derrida and Daoism, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.

Deutsch, Eliot and Bontekoe, Ron eds. A Companion to World Philosophies. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

Deutsch, Eliot Introduction to World Philosophies, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997.

Dewey, John, How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process, Boston: Heath, 1933.

Dilworth, David Philosophy in World Perspective: A Comparative Hermeneutic of the Major Theories. New Haven: Yale University Press,

Dübgen, Franziska and Skupien, Stefan “The Debate on Ethnophilosophy between Hountondji and His Contemporary Critics,” in Paulin

Hountondji: Global Political Thinkers, Cham: Palgrave Pivot, (2019): 40-56.

Egbunu, Fidelis “A Review of the Question of African Philosophy,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science3 no. 11, (2013):


Fleischacker, Samuel Integrity and Moral Relativism. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1992.

Fleming, Jesse “Comparative Philosophy: Its Aims and Objectives,” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 30 no. 2 (2003): 255-237.

Flew, Anthony An Introduction to Western Philosophy, London: Thames and Hudson, 1971.

Fook, Jan “Developing Critical Reflection as a Research Method,” in Joy Higgs, Angie Titchen, Debbie Horsfall, Donna Bridges (Eds.) Creative Spaces for Qualitative Researching, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, (2011): 55-64.

Froese, Katrin “The Art of Becoming Human: Morality in Kant and Confucius,” Dao 7, (2008): 257–268

Greenberger, Scott W. “Creating a Guide for Reflective Practice: Applying Dewey's Reflective Thinking to Document Faculty Scholarly Engagement,” Reflective Practice, (2020): 1-20.

Hackett, Stuart Oriental Philosophy: AWesterner's Guide to Eastern Thought. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979.

Hallen, Barry “Ethnophilosophy” Redefined? Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya (PAK),Vol.2 No.1, (2010): 70-89.

Inada, Kenneth (ed.) East-West Dialogues in Aesthetics. Buffalo: State University of New York at Buffalo, 1978.

Jun, Wang “The Openness of Life-world and the Intercultural Polylogue,” Yearbook for Eastern and Western Philosophy, Vol. 2019, no. 4, (2019): 151-162.

King, Sallie B. “Buddha Nature and the Concept of Person,” Philosophy East and West, 39, no. 2 (1989): 151-170.

Larson, Gerald “Introduction: The Age-Old Distinction between the same and the Other,” in Interpreting Across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy, Gerald Larson and Eliot Deutsch eds. 1-25 New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Larson, Gerald and Deutsch, Eliot (eds.) Interpreting Across Boundaries: New Essays in Comparative Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.

Lee, Kwang-Sae “Two Ways of Morality: Confucian and Kantian,” 18, no. 1 (1991): 89-121.

Lee, Ming-Huei “Confucianism, Kant, and Virtue Ethics,” in Confucianism: Its Roots and Global Significance, ed. David Jones, (Hawai'i: University of Hawai'i Press, 2017), 92-101

Lewin, Michael “Kant's Metaphilosophy,” Open Philosophy, (2021): 290-302.

Lewinski, Marcin and Blair, J Anthony, "Monologue, dilogue or polylogue: Which model for public deliberation?"OSSA Conference Archive 52, (2011): 1-21.

Littlejohn, Ronnie “Comparative Philosophy,” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, available at www.iep.utm/ comparat/. Accessed on


MacIntyre, Alasdair “Incommensurability, Truth, and the Conversation Between Confucians and Aristotelians about the Virtues.” In Culture and Modernity: East-West Philosophic Perspectives, ed. Eliot Deutsch Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991.

Masson-Oursel, Paul Comparative Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2000.

Moore, Charles “Some Problems of Comparative Philosophy,” Philosophy East and West, 1 no. 1, (1951): 62-75.

Okeregbe, Anthony “Phenomenology and the Ethics of Tolerance,” The Nigerian Journal of Philosophy, 2 (2010/2011): 87=99.

Overgaard, Søren, Gilbert, Paul and Burwood, StephenAn Introduction to Metaphilosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Pohlong, Basil “Ethno-Philosophy: An Inquiry into Its Origin, Nature, and Relevance, NCCReview,Vol. CXLI, 402.

Rescher, Nicholas. Philosophy Examined: Metaphilosophy in Pragmatic Perspective, (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2021.

Scharfstein, Ben-Ami A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From Upanishad to Kant, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Smid, Robert. Methodologies of Comparative Philosophy: The Pragmatist and Process Traditions, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.

Todd, Warren “Review of The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern and Western Thought by Harold Coward,” Philosophy East and West, 61, no. 3 (2011): 568-572.

Unah, Jim and Osegenwune, Chris Phenomenology and Existentialism, Lagos: Fadec Publishers, 2010.

Wawrytko, Sandra A. “Confucius and Kant: The Ethics of Respect,” Philosophy East and West, 32, no. 3 (1982): 237-257

Wimmer, Franz “Is Intercultural Philosophy a New Branch or a New Orientation in Philosophy?” in Gregory D'Souza (ed.) Interculturality of Philosophy and Religion. Bangalore: National Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre, 1996.

Wong, David "Comparative Philosophy: Chinese and Western", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Edward N. Zalta (ed.), available at win2014/entries/comparphilchiwes

Wong, David “Comparative Philosophy,” available at Accessed 24/10/16.