Some have argued, for example, that considerable violence had to be done to Chinese intellectual traditions in order to shape them into something recognisable on the 'world market' as philosophy (for example, they had to be divorced from what we can only identify, in a trivialising manner, as 'calligraphy'), that this only happened as a result of the pressures of nationalist modernisation campaigns late in the 19th century, and that the result was a mere fossil specimen, easily teachable in new western-modelled curricula, but only because it was by now no longer alive. See for example Anne Cheng, "Y-a-t-il une philosophie chinoise? : est-ce une bonne question?" in Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 27 (2005). This sort of concern, about what exactly it means to belong to a culture that can claim to have its own philosophy, and how this meaning has changed over time as a result of broader historical processes that for the most part do not play out on the plane of ideas, is one to which, for better or worse, academic philosophers interested in promoting diversity will also need to turn their attention. The resistance to doing so exposes yet another deep bias, which is not only harmful to the dead people it ignores: the bias of presentism.--Justin Smith Garfield and Van Norden on 'Non-European' Philosophy.
Almost a decade ago, I was talking to a young scholar who had sought me out to discuss shared research interests (on Newton & Spinoza). We were having an animated discussion, and I mentioned my research on Babylonian economics and astronomy. Undoubtedly, I was bragging a bit about my esoteric interests in a way that a peacock shows off useless tails. My youthful interlocutor said without any apparent satire or irony that the Greeks invented philosophy and so that while my project may well be interesting for the history of science it would have no bearing on the history of philosophy. Something triggered in me, and I shot back that my paper, first, shows how Plato and Aristotle (in the Politics) engage with the relevant material (and recycle tropes about visiting Chaldeans and Egypt) and that some enduring philosophical distinctions can be traced to it, and, second, given that the Babylonians clearly were capable of rather subtle modeling and theory-mediated causal analysis, and supported a cultural and institutional infrastructure to maintain centers of serious learning, we should not rule out that there were practices we would call 'philosophy' present in the culture. (Because I did not sense much receptivity, I decided to keep quiet on the role of omens in Babylonian intellectual life.) My interlocutor did not relent, and suggested that the Babylonians lacked self-consciousness and could not, therefore, be philosophical. Because it vaguely reminded me of the kind of thing Nietzsche satirizes, I wondered if that was the kind of thing nineteenth century German philosophy professors would say. Our exchange sputtered on, but because my attempt at being a philosophical peacock had been defeated, I gave up on the topic.
It was not the first time I had encountered the thought there was something distinctive about 'the Greeks' and the tradition inspired by Socrates et al. At some point, I started to notice that in the Platonic corpus we find a rejection of rustic wisdom, and, in its reception by Stoics, an assimilation of philosophy to the superior life under law in the polity as opposed to the barbarian outside the gates. Along the way, the form of thought of (say) the rather cosmopolitan and often wise Herodotus also got treated as non-philosophical. This alerted me that in the process of waging war on sophists/sophistry, there is also a kind of lack of generosity from within the tradition in recognizing philosophy outside certain political and institutional circumstances. 'Generosity' is probably the wrong word, but it will have to do for now.
Since I regretted that continental philosophers and lit crit types had monopolized these themes (because it left me no space to contribute to the topic) because it's pretty clear that from the start of the Platonic philosophical tradition there are distinctions and contrasts, including ones that get racialized and gendered, that in some political circumstances have pernicious consequences. If philosophy is the best life, as Plato (and arguably Aristotle) and a whole host of others at least through Spinoza argue, then what counts as 'philosophy' is not merely honorific, but practices that are not properly philosophical are tacitly devalued.
In his piece, Justin Smith reminds us that having (a) philosophy played a role in nationalist modernisation campaigns (NMCs). Justin is undoubtedly right to call attention to this, although he does not emphasize that NMCs are closely linked to the development of the modern research university (funded by that very state, too) with its highly specialized disciplines (it's the age in which natural philosophy gets displaced by special sciences).
Justin allows that it is contentious if "representatives of non-European intellectual traditions would even want, or would have wanted, to adopt as a description of what they are doing, or whether rather describing these traditions as philosophy does not already force them into a mould they did not grow up originally to fit." Now, there are tricky issues here on the nature of such representation; when it comes to participating in a tradition, I tend to think of folk instantiating or extending (or reviving it)--even sometimes of 'heading' it (some intellectual traditions have magisters). I feel that representation always also involves some kind of displacement (but that may be because I am in the grip of some species of Platonism).
More important, Justin raises the possibility that somebody from without while looking in to the traditions we call 'philosophy' comes to reject it because (as Smith hints) it somehow disfigures or distorts their own practice. We need not accept Justin's organicist use of the mould trope (which has deep roots in the Biblical influence on our philosophical tradition) to hint at the issue, to see the issue--even if, when we tried to fully articulated the issue in careful steps we would domesticate the point from within philosophy.
Now, we're not unfamiliar with rejections of the philosophical life. There are branches of Christianity that seem to treat philosophy as either to be rejected or as the ladder to be thrown away. Al-Ghazali, too, opts for Sufism, I think, as a step beyond philosophy. And, after Nietzsche, quite a bit of Continental philosophy flirts with anti-philosophies (of some sort or another). But these are all within the orbit of the Platonic origin.
But in the essay I quoted, Justin points us to the possibility of traditions that do not require to be cleansed from our vices and our (sometimes miserable) track-record of exclusion (or worse). By allowing us to contemplate the possibility of such a 'philosophical tradition which is not philosophy,' he hints at the promise of a kind of (philosophical?) rebirth, but that, just is Platonism. That's to say, the previous sentence reminds me it's not so easy to escape the clutches of one's tradition while the urge to imagine one can do so (cf. The Tempest) is a permanent temptation.