Updated: Feb 23
Report by Vania Tabanelli
On the 12th of December 2020 European Guanxi held the last webinar of the year:’ Another way of looking at things: Eurocentrism, Philosophy & Worldviews’, delivered by Thomas Kingston and moderated by European Guanxi Co-Founder and Vice-President Barbara Teixeira de Sousa Sénécaut. Thomas Kingston holds an LLB (Hons) in Law, an MA with Distinction from SOAS in Pacific Asian Studies, and an MPhil in Chinese Philosophy, Religion & Culture from the Renmin University of China where he was International Excellence Scholar in 2018/19 and again in 2019/20.
His speech gave powerful insight into the topic of Eurocentric approaches and the relevance of decentralising philosophy. The Western world remains caught in a persistent and entrenched eurocentrism of thought, such that the West does not recognise the philosophies of ‘others’. What Thomas Kingston proposed to us is an invitation to look for possibilities for the diversification and the internationally broadening of knowledge. During his presentation, Thomas offered some tools that everyone could implement to shift to a broader perspective, focusing on the importance of looking at the whole picture in order to get a comprehensive understanding.
We often tend to think that our values are the right ones, and the only ones worthy. Thomas used a sagacious quote from Zhuangzi, known as “the frog in the well”, in order to make reflections over the limitations of our perspectives and the importance of diversity. Engaging in a dialogue about Eastern Philosophy does not necessarily aim to an agreement with Eastern philosophy values or to an adoption of them, we don’t need to believe in a plurality of truths, but it could help to get an inclusive vision and lead to self-improvement.
Thomas underlined that complementarity is a source of enrichment and that knowledge is the most powerful tool that we have against Eurocentrism to reach a multicultural appreciation.
Thomas also responded to many eager questions: one of the followers of the webinar enquired about the limits of Eastern Philosophy applied to the Western world. The take away from Thomas’ answer is that we cannot apply Eastern Philosophy’s principles straight away. As we grew up in an environment based on Christian and Hellenistic philosophy, it’s difficult to engage with some eastern ideas, such as the concept of Heaven. There are barriers to full appreciation, among them there is also the translation; that could cause the loss of some values. Nevertheless, the individual effort of each one of us in trying to spread awareness about the importance of the inclusion of Eastern philosophy principles will hopefully lead to a more diverse global society. This Webinar and all of European Guanxi's are available on our YouTube Channel.