DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND INDIA PHILOSOPHY
Philosophy is the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The Ancient Greek word φιλοσοφία (philosophia) was probably coined by Pythagoras and literally means “love of wisdom” or “friend of wisdom”. Philosophy has been divided into many sub-fields. It has been divided chronologically (e.g., ancient and modern); by topic (the major topics being epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics); and by style (e.g., analytic philosophy).
As a method, philosophy is often distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its questioning, critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. As a noun, the term “philosophy” can refer to any body of knowledge. Historically, these bodies of knowledge were commonly divided into natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy.
East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet. This is a phrase by Rudyard Kipling and is often expressed to distinguish everything western from everything Indian. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, and this one fact is enough to tell that the way of life is different in the east from what it is, in the west. Talking of philosophies or way of thinking, while it is spiritualism in the east, it is materialism and logical and scientific in the west. This does not make it clear for many, and this article attempts to differentiate between Indian and western philosophies.
Western Philosophy refers to philosophical thinking in the Western or Occidental world, (beginning with Ancient Greece and Rome, extending through central and western Europe and, since Columbus, the Americas) as opposed to Eastern or Oriental philosophies (comprising Indian, Chinese, Persian, Japanese and Korean philosophies) and the varieties of indigenous philosophies.
In general, this website is limited to a discussion of Western Philosophy, although a brief overview of Eastern Philosophy and African Philosophy are also provided.
Over the centuries, Western Philosophy has strongly influenced and been influenced by Western religion, science, mathematics and politics. Indeed, in ancient times, the word “philosophy” was used to mean ALL intellectual endeavours, and, as late as the 17th Century, the natural sciences (physics, astronomy, biology) were still referred to as branches of “natural philosophy”.
It has also influenced (and in turn been influenced by) the teachings of the Abrahamic religions (Jewish philosophy, Christian philosophy, and Islamic philosophy).
Very broadly speaking, according to some commentators, Western society strives to find and prove “the truth”, while Eastern society accepts the truth as given and is more interested in finding the balance. Westerners put more stock in individual rights; Easterners in social responsibility.
There are 4 common ways in which Western Philosophy can be usefully broken down or organized:
• By Branch / Doctrine
• By Historical Period
• By Movement / School
• By Individual Philosophers
Western style of thinking and living is focused upon individualism. This is not to say that altruism or collective good of the society is not talked about in the western world. However, in sharp contrast of the habit of saving in India, the people in the western world are materialistic in nature. Philosophy in the west is separate and independent of religion. Reason and logic are given primacy to other aspects of life in western philosophy. In the west, people strive to find and prove truth. Individualism that is so very important in the west leads to individual rights while, in Indian context, social responsibility is given prominence.
India philosophy is the system of thought and reflections that were developed by the civilizations of the Indian subcontinent. They include both orthodox (astika) systems, namely, the Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Purva-Mimamsa (or Mimamsa), and Vedanta schools of philosophy, and unorthodox (nastika) systems, such as Buddhism and Jainism. Indian thought has been concerned with various philosophical problems, significant among which are the nature of the world (cosmology), the nature of reality (metaphysics), logic, the nature of knowledge (epistemology), ethics, and the philosophy of religion.
Indian philosophy (Sanskrit: darśhana) comprises the philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent. Since medieval India (ca.1000–1500), schools of Indian philosophical thought have been classified by the Brahmanical tradition as either orthodox or non-orthodox – āstika or nāstika – depending on whether they regard the Vedas as an infallible source of knowledge. There are six schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy—Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedanta—and three heterodox schools—Jain, Buddhist and Cārvāka. However, there are other methods of classification; Vidyaranya for instance identifies sixteen schools of Indian philosophy by including those that belong to the Śaiva and Raseśvara traditions.
The main schools of Indian philosophy were formalised chiefly between 1000 BCE to the early centuries of the Common Era. According to philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the earliest of these, which date back to the composition of the Upanishads in the later Vedic period (1000–500 BCE), constitute “the earliest philosophical compositions of the world.” Competition and integration between the various schools was intense during their formative years, especially between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Some schools like Jainism, Buddhism, Śaiva and Advaita Vedanta survived, but others, like Samkhya and Ājīvika, did not; they were either assimilated or went extinct. Subsequent centuries produced commentaries and reformulations continuing up to as late as the 20th century by Sri Aurobindo and Prabhupāda among others.
Traditionally, a distinction is made between Indian and western thinking, and this is exemplified in everything from religion to attire, food to education, thought process and relations, and emotions. While Indian thinking is characterized as spiritual and mystical in nature, western thinking is scientific, logical, rational, materialistic and individualistic. Looking at the world is called Darshana in Indian philosophy and this darshana comes from ancient scriptures like Vedas. The sum total of thinking, living and feeling can be described as the philosophy of a region. The pursuit of truth and inner happiness have been kept above everything else in Indian living, but more important than even these two is, the fact of difference that these two make in the quality and style of life of an individual. Indian philosophy is based upon 4 purusharthas of life that are known as artha, karma, dharma, and moksha. These are 4 basic ends of life, and an individual should follow the recommendations as described in Vedas, to have a fulfilling life.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND INDIAN PHILOSOPHY CAN BE OUTLINE BELOW;
1. Western philosophy comprises of western European philosophical traditions, while Indian philosophy (Sanskrit: darśhana) comprises the philosophical traditions of the Indian subcontinent.
2. Western Philosophy was influenced by Western religion, science, mathematics and politics, while Indian philosophy was influence by
nature of the world (cosmology), the nature of reality (metaphysics), logic, the nature of knowledge (epistemology), ethics, and the philosophy of religion.
3. Indian thought is eventually ontological. It doesn’t really stop until it makes a stab at what’s really real. It loves the general knowledge. While Western thought is highly dissecting. It doesn’t not mind engaging the variety and leave alone the promise of an absolute unity. It loves the specificity of knowledge.
4. While western philosophy begins and ends with Christianity, indian philosophy is a mix of Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism etc.
5. Indian philosophy is integrated with religion while western philosophy is opposite and independent of religion
6. Moksha or nirvana is the end of life, and it is the goal of life in Indian philosophy, whereas western philosophy stresses now and here and believes everything to be accounted for in this very life.
7. While Indian philosophy is inner dependent, western philosophy is outer dependent.
Philosophy is one of the three major tools man uses in order to shed light on some of life’s most profound questions, the other two being science and religion. And like science and religion, philosophy has many competing theories and is practiced in many different ways. In the west (or those places that were influenced by the ancient Greek philosophers), we have developed a method of philosophizing that includes heavy use of logic and reasoning. We value concrete, tangible evidence and formulaic methodology. But we would be wrong to believe that ours is the only correct way to go about dealing with philosophy. The Greeks and their European successors were not the only ones who wondered about life. On the other side of the globe in places like India and China, unique philosophies had developed on their own, completely separate and very different from their European counterparts. Today, let us examine the differences between eastern and western philosophy. In addition to karma, the lack of two other concerns further differentiates Indian philosophical thought from Western thought in general. Since the time of the Greeks, Western thought has been concerned with mathematics and, in the Christian era, with history. Neither mathematics nor history has ever raised philosophical problems for the Indian. In the lists of pramanas, or ways of knowing accepted by the different schools, there is none that includes mathematical knowledge or historical knowledge. Possibly connected with their indifference toward mathematics is the significant fact that Indian philosophers have not developed formal logic. The theory of the syllogism (a valid deductive argument having two premises and a conclusion) is, however, developed, and much sophistication has been achieved in logical theory. Indian logic offers an instructive example of a logic of cognitions (jnanani) rather than of abstract propositions—a logic not sundered and kept isolated from psychology and epistemology, because it is meant to be the logic of actual human striving to know what is true of the world.
• Jenny Teichmann and Katherine C. Evans, Philosophy: A Beginner’s Guide (Blackwell Publishing, 1999), p. 1: “Philosophy is a study of problems which are ultimate, abstract and very general. These problems are concerned with the nature of existence, knowledge, morality, reason and human purpose.”
• • A.C. Grayling (1999). “Editor’s Introduction”. In A.C. Grayling, ed. Philosophy 1: A Guide through the Subject. vol. 1. Oxford University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-19-875243-1. The aim of philosophical inquiry is to gain insight into questions about knowledge, truth, reason, reality, meaning, mind, and value. Other human endeavors explore aspects of these same questions, not least art and literature, but it is philosophy that mounts a direct assault upon them…
• • Definition of “philosophy, n.”. Oxford English Dictionary Online. June 2015. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/142505?rskey=uk0M8u&result=1 (accessed August 05, 2015): “7. The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, and the basis and limits of human understanding; this considered as an academic discipline. (Now the usual sense.)
• • See Diogenes Laertius: “Lives of Eminent Philosophers”, I, 12; Cicero: “Tusculanae disputationes”, V, 8–9
• • φιλοσοφία. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
• “Online Etymology Dictionary”. Etymonline.com. Retrieved 22 August 2010.