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Naomi Finnegan

September 29, 2013


Block 2
East vs. West: Philosophies Collide
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and
space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a
kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting
us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to
free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. (Einstein, A. 2010)
When it comes to Philosophy it starts out as the trunk of the tree and then manifests into
two large branches; East and West. Eastern philosophy consists of four main branches which are;
Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Western philosophy comes from the ideas of
the ancient Greek, and it has five main branches; Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics,
and Aesthetics. In the following paragraphs I will compare and contrast Eastern and Western
philosophies and its traditions.
The oldest and the most influential branch of philosophy was the Eastern. Going into the
branches of Eastern philosophy, I will start with Buddhism. Buddhism is a philosophy and
religion based on the ideas of Siddhartha Gautama. The first and the most important one is the
Four Noble Truths. The four noble truths are: Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, and Maggo.
Wherefore, brethren, thus must ye train yourselves : Liberation of the will through love will
develop, we will often practice it, we will make it vehicle and base, take our stand upon it, store
it up, thoroughly set it going (Buddha). The next branch of Eastern philosophy is; Hinduism.
Hinduism comes from the Indian philosophy. It came from the Vedas, Veda comes from the
Sanskrit Vid that means knowledge. We can all experience our true self that is Brahman in other
words God. This can be reached by meditation and purity of mind. In Indian philosophy, the
main terms used by Hindus and Buddhists have dynamic connotations. The word Brahman is
derived from the Sanskrit root brih - to grow- and thus suggests a reality which is dynamic and
alive. The Upanishads refer to Brahman as 'this unformed, immortal, moving', thus associating it
with motion even though it transcends all forms.' The Rig Veda uses another term to express the
dynamic character of the universe, the term Rita. This word comes from the root ri- to move. In
its phenomenal aspect, the cosmic One is thus intrinsically dynamic, and the apprehension of its
dynamic nature is basic to all schools of Eastern mysticism.
They all emphasize that the universe has to be grasped dynamically, as it moves, vibrates and
dances. ..The Eastern mystics see the universe as an inseparable web, whose interconnections
are dynamic and not static. The cosmic web is alive; it moves and grows and changes
continually (Fritjof Capra, 1972).
Taoism is the third most influential branch out of Eastern Philosophy. Tao means path
or road. It is the philosophy and religion of the Ancient Chinese. Lao Tzu was the founder of
Taoism around 440 BC. Many Chinese people think that he is a mythical character. The branch
of Taoism is described as the nature and reality of one. The Tao that can be expressed is not the
Eternal Tao... There is a thing, formless yet complete. Before heaven and earth it existed. We do
not know its name, but we call it Tao. It is the Mystery of Mysteries (Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching).
Confucianism the last branch of the Eastern philosophy is based on the Chinese philosopher
Confucius. He thought he could restore the worlds order but he failed. He wanted everyone in
China to study Confucius, which meant to study the outside world. If a man didnt study he was
considered morally upright or enlightened. This equilibrium is the great root from which grow
all the human actings in the world, and this harmony is the universal path which they all should
pursue (Confucius, Doctrine of the Mean). These are the branches that are within the branch of
Eastern philosophy. Each branch has its own founder and traditions.
Western philosophy is the second most important branch of Philosophy. This philosophy
uses a lot of logic, reasoning, and categorization. The first branch within Western philosophy is;
Metaphysics. Metaphysics is the nature of the world. It is divided in three branches; Ontology,
Theology, and Universal Science. Metaphysics is what is beyond the physical world. And
physics is in the same boat as mathematics. It studies the accidents and principles of entities, qua
participating in process and not qua being. And in contrast we have said that primary science is
the science of these things in so far as they, its subjects, are things that are, and not in regard to
any other feature. Hence both physics and mathematics are to be considered mere parts of total
understanding (Aristotle, Metaphysics). Epistemology is the second branch in Western
philosophy. It is the study of grounds and nature of knowledge itself. How we can acquire
knowledge and differentiate truth and falsehood. Epistemology is important because it helps us
to see how it is fundamental to how we think. Epistemology is believed by the atheists and the
theists. Knowledge is obtained through experience, which is what Epistemologys main message
is. () in point of epistemological footing the physical objects and the gods differ only in
degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conception only as cultural posits. The
myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more
efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of
experience (Willard Van Orman Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiriscim, 1988, 26).
Ethics is the third most important branch of Western philosophy. Ethics is the oughts
and norms of behavior. The oughts within ethics are used to guide us through life. It is what
helps us know what is right and wrong from what we do or think. An example of what you ought
in ethics is: You ought to steal food from the plate of a rich person and give it to the starving
because just allowing people to starve to death is inhuman. But what they find most amazing
and despicable is the insanity of those who all but worship the rich, to whom they owe nothing
and who can do them no harm; they do so for no other reason except that they are rich, knowing
full well that they are so mean and tightfisted that they will certainly never give them one red
cent during their whole lives (Thomas More, Utopia). Politics is the fourth most important
branch of Western philosophy. It is how the people relate to society and to the government.
Some examples of how the people relate to the government and society is by constitutional
issues, voting behavior, the balance of power, and the effect of judicial review. These examples
are part of political science. Politics can have sub-disciples like philosophy of law and the
philosophy of economics. Which basically fall under the philosophy of politics. The
ethical utilitarian claims that the good is characterized by seeking (that is, attempting to bring
about) the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Accordingly, in the
political realm, the utilitarian will support the erection of those institutions whose purpose is to
secure the greatest happiness for the greatest number. In contrast, an ethical deontologist, who
claims that the highest good is served by our application of duties (to the right or to others), will
acknowledge the justification of those institutions that best serve the employment of duties. This
is a recognizable stance that merges with human rights theorists emphasis on the role of rights
(to or from actions and/or things). In turn an ethical relativist will advocate a plurality of
institutions (within a nation or around the world), whereas an ethical objectivist will condemn
those that are seen to be lacking a universally morally proper purpose (for example, those that
support certain inalienable rights) (Alexander Moseley, 2005). These are all the different kinds
of branches that fall into Western philosophy. It is quite different from Eastern philosophy.

In conclusion Eastern and Western philosophy are different in a lot of ways but have
some things that are the same too. Everything in some ways are related but somewhere in the
trunk of the tree they all come together. I think we all believe in different philosophies.
Especially by what our parents tell us. If they believe in a certain ideology we believe in the
same. These two philosophies had different traditions and founders. They were all founded
differently in different places all around the world. I believe we should never critize what other
peoples beliefs are. We all have a different point of view of our traditions. Finally, Eastern and
Western Philosophy are both important philosophies that have had a great impact all over the
world in different societies.

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