Fifty Eastern Thinkers

Fifty Eastern Thinkers

Fifty Eastern Thinkers

Fifty Eastern Thinkers

Synopsis

Close analysis of the work of fifty major thinkers in the field of Eastern philosophy make this an excellent introduction to a fascinating area of study. The authors have drawn together thinkers from all the major Eastern philosophical traditions from the earliest times to the present day. The philosophers covered range from founder figures such as Zoroaster and Confucius to modern thinkers such as Fung Youlan and the present Dalai Lama. Introductions to major traditions and a glossary of key philosophical terms make this a comprehensive and accessible reference resource.

Excerpt

This book is designed to give the interested reader basic information about fifty major thinkers who belong with those several different traditions usually classed together by western culture as oriental or eastern.

One of the main points that will become clear is that this classification is over-simple, since it blurs distinctions between a number of schools of thought, some as different from each other as they are from the schools of the West. We have organized the material, with the exception of that on Islamic philosophy, under headings which are broadly geographical, and this arrangement coincides, by and large, with organization by philosophical tradition. Within each group of philosophers the material is set out chronologically. For the sake of simplicity, all dates are given in terms of the Christian calendar.

Differences between them notwithstanding, there is one feature common to these traditions—at least before the modern period— which they do have in common and in which they do differ from philosophical thought in the West since the Renaissance. This common characteristic is the non-separation of philosophical from religious endeavour. Most western philosophers of the present day would regard their subject as distinct from religion, though this would not have been the case, for example, in the Middle Ages. This distinction or outlook has appeared in eastern traditions, if at all, only very recently. The consequence is that in much of what follows the subject-matter is in many cases, of necessity, deeply informed by religious ideas. Whilst the emphasis in what we have written is on what in western terms is the philosophical aspect of the work of the figures concerned, those within these traditions would generally regard this as a distinction marking no difference of importance.

This book does not pretend to be a history of the schools of thought concerned; several libraries would be needed for that, even were all

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