Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings

Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings

Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings

Eastern Philosophy: Key Readings

Synopsis

Through key readings from primary and secondary sources this book communicates at first hand the principal features of a remarkable range of Eastern thought - from Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism to Islam, Shinto, and Zoroastrianism. Passages from key texts guide the reader through over ninety major terms, from abhidharma to Zen.Material is drawn not only from such cornerstone texts as the Bhagavad-gita and the Lao-tzu, but also from modern writings on Eastern philosophy and religion.

Excerpt

The whole concept of 'Eastern' philosophy is rather an artificial one, since there are difficult issues in defining where 'East' starts and ends. Some of the thinkers included here operated pretty far in the 'West' (ibn Rushd, for example, spent his life in Spain and North Africa). I decided to include Islamic philosophy since much of it took place and continues to be important in what is clearly the Asian world. On the other hand, a good deal of 'Western' philosophy is an important part of the philosophical curriculum in much of Asia today, and it could then be argued that this should also be classified as Eastern philosophy. I certainly would not want to argue that there is anything specifically different about Eastern as compared with Western philosophy, although there have been arguments which have gone in this direction. The cultural context in which different philosophical traditions arose clearly mark them in an important way, but many of the issues which different traditions discuss are remarkably similar to each other. I have taken Eastern philosophy to include Islamic, Zoroastrian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean and Indian philosophies, and I have selected here a sample from all these traditions.

Eastern philosophy, however that is defined, is a very substantial group of systems of thought, and we have only skimmed the surface here of its richness and diversity. Each of the terms which is given an entry is in itself a highly developed concept within a particular type of philosophy, or philosophies, and there are shelves in libraries on each such term. There is no way that this book could be anything more than indicative at best. I have had to exclude a lot of important terms because I wanted to allow those terms which do appear to have sufficient length to demonstrate a flavour of what they can do.

The point of this book is to make available a sample of interesting arguments and claims by a variety of philosophical traditions which

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