ORIENTAL philosophy in the United States has, since World War II, been well on its way to being recognized as a legitimate field of interest by individual thinkers and departments of philosophy at colleges and universities. The development proceeded, broadly, along the following lines.
At first, the excessive, almost morbid interest of religious persons and missionaries in the grotesque features of eastern religions had a chilling effect upon philosophers. With the professional study of philosophy coming into its own, the much-thumbed histories of philosophy by Zeller, Ueberweg, Windelband and others, with their skeptical, if not cynical references to the socalled philosophy of the Orientals, had a decidedly retarding influence upon American thinkers just at a time when interest from literary quarters began to make inroads upon philosophers during the latter part of the last century. Almost at the same period the appropriation of Oriental thought by societies interested in the occult put a further damper upon the enthusiasm of professional philosophers to study Oriental philosophies. Finally, when philologists took an active interest in the Orient and came up with translations which permitted the philosophical to shine through, philosophers were totally unprepared and stymied, since learning an Oriental language seemed to be a prerequisite to understanding the philosophy couched in that language.
What, in particular, is meant by Oriental philosophy? In general, all philosophy not derived directly from the Greeks. The supposition, ill-founded in the opinion of a growing number of scholars who perceive Oriental linkages, is, that Greek philosophy arose autochthonously with characteristics entirely unique. Thus, Oriental philosophy, strictly speaking, would include Jewish and Arabian philosophy. We are not considering these here since they are usually, though not wholly appropriately, studied perfunctorily within the context of western philosophy. Oriental philosophy embraces, further, and primarily, the various philosophies evolved in India, Hinduistic and other. It covers, moreover, the