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  • The Principle of Affirmation

  • ii

    ISBN 978-90-5335-369-1

  • iii

    The Principle of Affirmation

    An ontological and epistemological ground of interculturality

    Het Principle van Affirmatie

    Ontologische en epistemolgische basis van interculturaliteit

    Proefschrift

    ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

    op gezag van de rector magnificus

    Prof.dr.H.G.Schmidt

    en volgens besluit van het College voor Promoties

    De openbare verdediging zal plaatsvinden op

    10 februari 2011

    door

    Stephanus Djunatan

    geboren te Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia,

  • iv

    Promotoren

    Prof.dr.W.M.J. van Binsbergen

    Prof.dr.I.B. Sugiharto

    Overige leden Prof.dr.J. de Mul

    Dr.R. Wessing

    Prof.dr.C.E. von Benda Beckmann – Droogleever Fortuijn

    The research on which this Ph.D. thesis is based, was facilitated by

    Parahyangan Catholic University, Bandung, Indonesia; the Ministry of

    Education of the Republic of Indonesia; and the Philosophical Faculty, Erasmus

    University Rotterdam, the Netherlands

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    “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulder of giants” (Sir Isaac Newton, 1643 - 1727)

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    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgement ............................................................................................................. 1 0. Introduction .................................................................................................................... 2

    0.1. The contextual discourse of philosophic sagacity ........................................... 2 0.2. The discovery of an affirmative worldview and the principle of

    affirmation ..................................................................................................... 10 0.3. The purpose of this thesis .............................................................................. 13 0.4. The methodology ........................................................................................... 17 0.5. The structure of this thesis ............................................................................. 19

    Part I: The implications of the principle of affirmation and the attending affirmative worldview in the discourse of philosophic sagacity ..................................... 25

    Chapter 1: The discourse of philosophic sagacity in the African context ................. 26 1.1 The recognition of knowledge systems outside the North Atlantic

    mode of thought ............................................................................................. 26 1.2 The context of sagacious knowledge in the African context .......................... 35 1.3 The implications of an affirmative worldview and the principle of

    affirmation in the African model of philosophic sagacity ............................. 53 Chapter 2: Philosophic sagacity in the Asian context ................................................ 59

    2.1 A reflective description of the model of sagacious thought in the South and East Asian Wisdom traditions ...................................................... 60

    2.2 The sagacious knowledge in the Southeast Asian context ............................. 70 2.3 The discourse of ethnophilosophy in an Asian context, and the

    ‘third approach’ .............................................................................................. 94 Chapter 3: The Sundanese sagacious disposition in the Sufic shrine of Nagara Padang ........................................................................................................... 99

    3.1 The geographical setting ................................................................................. 99 3.2 The antiquity of the shrine ............................................................................ 104 3.3 The pious lessons: An affirmative journey to sagacity ................................ 122 3.4 The affirmative worldview as the implication of the pious lessons ............. 132

    Chapter 4: Toward a theory of the principle of affirmation and the attending affirmative worldview .............................................................................. 142

    4.1 Characteristics of sagacious knowledge ....................................................... 142 4.2. Is ethnophilosophy a philosophy? ............................................................... 143 4.3. The human mind is never bounded ............................................................. 145 4.4 The affirmative worldview and the principle of affirmation ........................ 147

    Part II: An account of the principle of affirmation and the attending affirmative worldview ...................................................................................................................... 151

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    Chapter 5: A review of ontological vision ............................................................... 153 5.1 Understanding as a tool and method ............................................................ 154 5.2 Some constitutive properties of the worldview ............................................ 159 5.3 Western and Eastern worldview? ................................................................. 165 5.4. Affirmative as quality of a worldview ......................................................... 181

    Chapter 6: An account of the principle of affirmation and the attending affirmative worldview in the Daodejing and in Sundanese sagacious expressions ............................................................................................................... 185

    6.1 Affirmative reciprocity in the Daodejing ..................................................... 189 6.2 The Sundanese account of Tritangtu or the triadic structure of an

    affirmative worldview ................................................................................. 208 6.3. The principle of affirmation throughout three Asian contexts .................... 224

    Chapter 7: Accounts of affirmation in the North Atlantic philosophical discourse: Paul Ricoeur and Gilles Deleuze ............................................................ 230

    7.1 Salient topics in the contemporary North Atlantic philosophical discourse of Knowledge of the Self ............................................................. 231

    7.2. Ricoeur: Primary affirmation (L’affirmation originaire) ............................ 253 7.3. The Deleuzean affirmation .......................................................................... 258 7.4 An account of affirmation in North Atlantic philosophical

    discourse ...................................................................................................... 281 Part III: Conclusion and Prospect .................................................................................. 286

    1. Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 286 2. Prospects for interculturality .......................................................................... 293 3. The principle of affirmation in a multi-ethnic society like the

    Republic of Indonesia .................................................................................. 298 Summary ........................................................................................................................ 310 References ...................................................................................................................... 312 Curriculum Vitae .......................................................................................................... 324

  • 1

    Acknowledgement

    To explore a philosophical way of life requires not only an appreciation of the various expressions of the way of life, but also a close analysis and a critical approach. A possible way to carry out the exploration is to submerge in a pious lesson of life which explains the sagacity of the cycle of life. This submersion in the profound expression of local wisdom realized in a ritual and religious conviction turns this doctoral program into a pilgrimage of life. This program was initially meant to improve my career in a university. In the meantime it becomes a pilgrimage of life and a realization of the principle of affirmation in my conception and perception towards life.

    Therefore, I would like to express my acknowledgement to prominent figures whose guidance assists my pilgrimage. I would like to address my gratitude for the promoters of this programme, Professor van Binsbergen and Professor Bambang. Professor van Binsbergen has dedicated his expertise in intercultural philosophy, his insightful inspiration and critical assessments, even his time and attention to supervise my programme. Professor Bambang also has assisted me with his insightful idea and his arguments concerning the development of philosophy. The other figures are the family of Abah Karmo and Pak Undang, the guardians of the Sufic Shrine Nagara Padang, Gunung Padang, Regency of Bandung, West Java for their guiding wisdom so that I could experience a pilgrimage in the shrine, then to transcribe their pious lessons of sagacity. Other elders I want to honor are Ki Laras Maya or Abah Ajat Poerbasasaka, and Abah Badra Santana. My appreciation goes to colleagues wh