Is there more to Eastern philosophy than this...?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by Stuart, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. Stuart Registered Member

    I write this entirely from a western standpoint, meaning I don't wish to debate eastern philosophy as its applicable to easterners, but how its applicable and translatable to westerners.

    So first to compare a generalization of the west to the east, the west is clearly more advanced. Just looking at the music and literature of the west from 1500-1900 alone shows this. But, furthermore one need only look at how so may of the technological innovations that the east now excels at were started in the west. But, that aside, its also clear that besides the west there's no other broad portion of civilization that is or was more advanced than the east.

    The east has an aesthetic; its architecture especially, that is very beautiful. Furthermore its martial arts, concerning unarmed combat, is presumably far superior to any other.

    Then, to the philosophy itself. When translated to a westerner it can help them take a more relaxed approach to living. Their techniques on mediation especially may help with this. But, it doesn't seem to go much further than that. The idea of obtaining some sort of mental state, whatever it may be called (zen, etc.), is only of so much use, and only to those who have a purpose for it. For the most part, the few westerners who take eastern philosophy more seriously than as a simple hobby do so as a way of escape - it adding nothing of value to their life.
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It seems to me that the best philosophical problems are kind of universal.

    It's true that people do philosophy with different goals and purposes in mind. Some people seek guidance in how they should live their lives, or even some transcendent apotheosis. Others are just intellectually curious and can't help asking questions.

    Some cultures emphasize some motives over others, I guess. Even here in the West, so-called 'continental' philosophy seems to have much stronger political motives (it seems to focus on cultural criticism) than so-called 'analytical' philosophy typically does. In Asia, philosophy has always had a close relationship with religious thought. Medieval Western philosophy, and perhaps less obviously a great deal of modern Western philosophy as well, have also had religious influences and motivations.

    But the thing is, I don't think in most cases that it's all that difficult to understand where others are coming from and what motivates their particular modes of thinking.

    I'm inclined to think very highly of Asian visual arts and architecture during those centuries. I think that they are easily the equal of the best products of the West.

    It's true, the scientific and industrial revolutions happened in Europe.

    My own view is that the so-called 'East' has sometimes produced better religious philosophy than the West. Personally, I find it more fruitful in my own life, to say nothing of more interesting, to investigate 'Eastern' religious thought than its 'Western' counterpart.

    I've never really understood the fascination with the 'martial arts'. The average Westerner shows little interest in Buddhist meditation. But combine the Buddhist idea of inner-work with the idea of beating other people up, and suddenly everyone starts talking about the martial arts they practice and what color their belts are. I guess that there's a visceral attraction in thinking that we are more bad-ass than those around us, while simultaneously posing as more 'spiritual' besides.

    'Eastern' philosophy extends far beyond that Western stereotype.

    Here are some survey articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on...

    Indian Logic

    Indian Epistemology

    Indian Philosophy of Language

    Indian Philosophy of Perception

    Indian Buddhist Philosophy of Mind

    And contradicting the notion that Indian philosophy is always otherworldly and world-denying, Indian Naturalism

    One thing to take away from these examples is that philosophy in India has traditionally addressed many of the same broad philosophical issues that Philosophy in ancient Greece, medieval Europe and the modern West have done. Not only do they address many of the same general issues (questions like the relationship of particular experiences to general concepts, for example), they've produced ideas about those issues that continue to merit the attention of philosophers all around the world today (apoha theory, for example).

    In other words, I think that emerging world-philosophy enriches itself tremendously when the different cultural streams of philosophical thought come together and stimulate each another.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    ("The path or the way")
    Personally, I am very much a TAOist. Value added? Yes, I think so. It is much more than meditation, it is a perspective on life--all life, and the patterns/cycles/changes of the planet. Objectivity without disengagement may come close to an abject descriptor.
    I came upon it quite by accident, and only years later realized that what I was doing fit the TAOist philosophy quite readily.
    Zen is a hybrid of TAO and Buddha-much of it's philosophy is pure TAO. And, I found TAOism through studies into ZEN.

    Just personal perspective---not a recommendation.
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  7. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    There cannot be a one to one comparison.

    Just a little example.

    Where is western mathematical treatment of music, musical metre, grammar of poetry? music in west is based on symphony, but India it is melody. There is pure intrumental, pure vocal and a mix thereof. You get a soft, soothing melody 5 MW of sound. Looks like you never had a look at them. Indian vocal and instrumental maestros can tackle and render any musical sound. Great Lata Mangeshkar has rendered songs in about languages.

    The same goes for Indian philosophy. I bet you are not even aware of Dr. Radhakrishnan.

    How many symblos are a must to write a languages? Two, as shown by Pingal about 2500 years ago. He applied to poetry, music and musical metres.
  8. Stuart Registered Member

    It seems curiosity is of no value if one has already ruled out further guidance in how to live.

    Are you referring to religion as basically just another term for life-denial?

    In that the westerner can relate to the easterner, which I agree is likely very much, my premise is that he would already find most of the ideology he could find use for within his own culture, making studying eastern philosophy just more indirect because of the many difficulties in translation.

    I think very highly of them to, but when looking carefully at what actually constitutes the highest of the west, such as the work from the renaissance, I can't help but think that the is only a refreshing and call foreign or exotic diversion, not something that actually meets the quality of the west.

    In that religion is based on rituals which have no connection to one's past, such as pagan rituals do for those born immersed in a kin group, then its highly worthless all around. But, if we peel away the rituals and let the religion turn into a philosophy, then we definitely have more quality in the East. The best of the east's philosophy is highly integrated into their religions, while the absolute worst is highly integrated in western religion. But just because the major eastern religions advocate a relaxed peaceful form of life denial as opposed to the west's tormented form of life denial, it doesn't mean they have value.

    Even in modern society there is still reason to know defense, but perhaps the term 'martial art' isn't broad enough, 'physical arts' maybe. Obviously the west excels at the physical arts such as dance, but I'm not clear on the use of learning western dance outside of entertainment and social aspects. If we just take the eastern forms, and maybe even yoga, without the need to use easterner terminology that is neither understood by the westerner nor even useful if understood, and we apparently have something that the west just can't replace.

    I may look into that sometime.

    I'm not claiming that the west should ignore eastern philosophy, but that most individual westerners seeking self improvement through philosophy might find it better to not waste too much of their limited time on the east.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Point of clarification:

    Is TAOism a religion?
    Is Zen Buddhism a religion?
  10. Stuart Registered Member

    My assumption is that they're both religions and philosophies. Of course, the difference between the two terms is not clear. The issue of worship seems to be a defining point of religion, in which case Buddhism at least has some relation to a religion. For most the Buddha is in now way kin, making it life-denying to worship him, just as worshipping God in J-XT.

    In some senses that form of worship is more life denying than J-XT, because it promotes a state of disconnect from reality/nature, as well as disconnect from one's past/nature, while in J-XT, outside of how it promotes a false unity among the worhsippers of God (unlike the Budda compeltely imaginery) it doesn't emphasize a deadening of the senses through constant meditation like some forms of Buddhism do. But, at the same time as you say it can speak to a way of viewing the world objectively. Whether it offers anything that one can't find in the pre-Socratic Greeks, and authors like Nietzsche and Heidegger who essentially brought back that Greek philosophy, I don't know, but am skeptical.

  11. Stuart Registered Member

    Mathematical treatment of music, grammar of poetry, and binary language? How does all that speak to quality?

    Anyway, would you provide a link to the best of Indian music, past or present?
  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    J-xt = ?

    Is absolutely not TAOism. Maybe, a bit Buddhism? Not sure about the "nature" part.
    If you take Hess' view, the Buddha finally found inner peace(The center) via immersing himself in the patterns of nature.
  13. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    It goes to pattern

    It has been claimed that the wonderful carvings at khajuraho were done to precise formulas.
    I haven't found any specific description of that supposed "formula". But pass this on for what it's worth.
  14. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Again, pal, it is clear that you never came in contact with Indian music, otherwise you would not ask for links.. There are rules about producing the verses. If these rules are not observed your music will jar. That is why western music has to depend on decibels.
  15. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

  16. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Claim is not imaginary. Ever wonder why Buddha states of today look same as those of 2000+ years plus, as for as proportions are concerned?

    You called western music, I don't.
  17. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Then that's your personal taste talking, not facts.
    How much volume did Mozart rely on for example?
  18. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    When did Mozart use high watts? Symphony is great, no doubt. I don't know its musical nuances, but does not stop me enjoying it. What matters is harmonius melody, lyrics are secondary.
  19. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    YOU claimed: That is why western music has to depend on decibels.
    Therefore the question: How much volume did Mozart rely on for example?
  20. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    How much did MJ rely on? If Mozart is music then MJ is jarring noise. Both can't be music, can they?
  21. Stuart Registered Member


    That's my impression.
    I Just mention H because I know of his part in the Greek revival, I don't know his work specifically. Anyway, does finding inner peace as the Buddha supposedly did have any value beyond hedonistic escape?
  22. Stuart Registered Member

    Rcscwc, relatively, I don't know much about music in general, but while doubtful, I'm open minded that the best of Indian music may be shown to be of higher quality than the best of western music. I'm not really interested in getting into a debate on what constitutes quality music, but my ear alone may change my mind on that should you give me direction to this supposed overtly high quality music.
  23. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    WTF does that have to do with anything?

    In your opinion.

    Why not?

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