A Comparison between Eastern and Western Philosophy

Topics: Philosophy, Eastern philosophy, Western philosophy Pages: 2 (1447 words) Published: October 27, 2014

Have you thought about the question—“Is the world around us knowable?” For most Westerners, the answer is positive. But if you ask a Chinese the same question, you would get the reply like: “I don’t know.” or “Does it matter?” The reason behind it is the difference between Eastern and Western philosophy. A variety of philosophy schools around the world have pondered these kinds of philosophical problems for thousands years and some of them are highly representative (like Confucianism for Eastern and Platonism for Western). Though they are confronted with the same questions, the focal points are usually different from each other, which is caused by the disparity of their opinions toward the importance of philosophical problems. Western philosophy can be divided into Ancient Greek philosophy, medieval philosophy, modern philosophy and contemporary philosophy, while Eastern philosophy includes Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy, Japanese philosophy etc. There is no doubt that the similarities between them are obvious, yet the focus of Eastern philosophy is in society whereas Western’s is in universe. Because the understanding from a single side is always partial, the purpose of this paper is to illustrate the major differences between the focus and methodology of Eastern and Western philosophy traditions and explain the possible causes behind it. When it comes to philosophy, Eastern philosophers take an individual inner world as starting point and put the principles of social life at the first place while Westerners will speculate on it from a universal perspective and try to figure out the principles behind the world. As Fung (1984) states that from a philosophical perspective, the highest achievement a man could realize is to be a sage and the daily task of dealing with social affairs in human relations is a part of the process of being a sage. However, for Western philosophers, they are inclined to put the origin of all things in the universe at first...
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