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StFX professor returns from 23-day lecture tour in India

January 27th, 2017
Dr. Will Sweet (left) is pictured receiving an award from Dr. Vernekar Sanjyot D. Pai of the University of Goa

StFX philosophy and Catholic studies professor Dr. William Sweet, the Visiting Professor (Overseas) of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), has recently returned from a 23-day lecture tour of universities in India.

During his stay in India, Prof. Sweet gave a series of invited Iectures in Santiniketan (Visvabharati University, established by the Indian poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore), Jaipur, Pune, Goa, and Bangalore.

He also gave keynote addresses at the University of Delhi and at the academic centre of the Indian Council for Philosophical Research in Lucknow, and was a special guest at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit in Kerala, where he had meetings with the university’s vice chancellor and participated in the ceremonies inaugurating a new sculpture of the 9th century Indian philosopher, Shankara.

Over the past 20 years, Prof. Sweet has developed a number of research contacts and projects with scholars in India, and his recent visit also allowed him to collect source material for a long-term research project, he says.

On the lecture tour, primarily sponsored by the ICPR, Dr. Sweet spoke on a number of subjects, principally related to issues in intercultural philosophy and the recognition of cultural identity in modern democracies. Stories on his talks appeared in a number of Indian newspapers.

“One of the advantages of my research in India is that I am able to draw the attention of StFX students to the valuable and interesting work being done abroad,” Dr. Sweet says. “In part, this helps to demystify conceptions about academic work in India, and in part this shows our students that Indian students and scholars are encountering and trying to address a number of questions that North American scholars are trying to address as well - both on technical questions in epistemology, ethics, religion, and culture, but also on more general questions related to multiculturalism and pluralism.

“In an increasingly multicultural and pluralist world, in which globalization challenges the existence of what UNESCO has called intangible cultural heritage, it is important for scholars to be aware of and engage the work of scholars in countries such as India,” he says.

Part of Prof. Sweet’s current research is the writing of a book on philosophical schools and trends in colonial India. He is also involved in working with a number of Indian scholars on Indian perspectives in contemporary philosophical issues in political philosophy and epistemology.

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