Western vs eastern philosophy

Richard asked:

I have made light steps into the realm of philosophy for a few years now, however all of the philosophy I have come into contact with has been of western origin. Therefore I would like to approach eastern philosophy, particularly philosophies with Japanese origins. Which philosophers works should I seek out initially?

Answer by Shaun Williamson

The strict sense of the word philosophy as it is now used refers to an attempt to reach knowledge by means of reason and logic. This philosophical tradition arose in ancient Greece. There is no corresponding tradition in China or Japan. These cultures may have religious and moral thinkers but nothing that corresponds to the Greek tradition of reaching truth by means of rational thought.

Now of course you can use ‘philosophy’ in a much vaguer sense and in this sense almost anything can become ‘a philosophy’.

I can’t think of any traditional Japanese writers that I would regard as being important philosophical thinkers so I can’t help you. It is an accident of history that the idea of rational philosophy arose in the west as did the idea of science and scientific medicine. Everything has to start somewhere.

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