Comparison of Eastern and Western Philosophy

The search for knowledge has been a major journey since the beginning of time. As a result, the Greeks invented philosophy. The term philosophy comes from the Greek word philein, which means ???love??? and sophia, which means ???knowledge??? or ???wisdom??? (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010). Anyone who sought knowledge in any area was thought to be a philosopher. Therefore, not only were Westerns philosophers, but Easterns too.
Western and Eastern philosophers have similarities and differences in varying degrees, but there are four basic types: methodical, the systematic order; metaphysical, the nature and fundamental properties of being; epistemological, the sources, nature, limits, and criteria of knowledge, and ethical, the standards of conduct (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010). Methodically, Western philosophy is based on logic and reasoning, whereas Eastern philosophy is closely intertwined with their religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, to name a few. Metaphysically, Westerns emphasis the virtues of life and how to obtain happiness, wheras Easterns emphasis the frailties of life, such as suffering and weakness; however, they also provide remedies for peace and security. Epistemologically, Westerns explore the existence of God as the source of all things, and Easterns believe in other gods as the source of all things. Ethically, Westerns and Easterns provide a set of laws or principles by which each individual should conduct themselves (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010).
Socrates was a Western philosopher who admitted he had no knowledge. However, his quest was to discover the essential nature of knowledge, justice, beauty, goodness, and courage. Consequently, he developed a method that bears his name, the Socratic method. The Socratic Method helps one recognize their own ignorance and see misconceptions in what they think they know. Socrates maintained that true knowledge exists in the Forms. Each individual has a perfect set of Forms that is remembered (anamnesis) in their immortal soul (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010). Therefore, to remember the Forms is to ???know??? absolute truth (knowledge) and become just and wise. For example, a verse from the Bible comes to mind in which Jesus answers a question regarding the way from Thomas. Jesus says, ???I am the way the truth and the life??? (John 14:6). In mentioning the verse we find the meaning of absolute truth. Within this rational, the metaphysics of ???being??? is being manifested and the objectivity of truth is being recognized. Using the Socratic Method using systematic questioning the verse was broken down into questions in order to come up with the desired answer. In other words, Thomas asked a series of questions and as a result Jesus gave an answer that is based on absolute truth.
Outside of truth, Socrates was concerned with the meaning of words that signify ethical behavior. He held that any person who possessed knowledge of virtue could not fail to behave virtuously. Thus, Socrates believed that ignoble behavior, if not the result of insanity, is always the result of ignorance (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010).
Likewise, Lao Tzu??™s view of humankind is like Socrates in one aspect. Both believed the wisest of humans is still ignorant (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010). They held that acting on ignorance under the pretense that it is knowledge is folly that leads not to progression, but declination. For example, an individual who uses force brings retaliation from the opposite individual, which leads to the detriment of both sides. Therefore, Tzu held the behavior of the sage cultivates peace and not strife. In addition, the sage frees himself of selfish desires and does what is appropriate in all circumstances. Since he is selfless, his objective is to care for all things versus to use them for his own ends.
Lao Tzu was an Eastern philosopher who believed in the Tao as the source and sustainer of all things; meaning all things come to be, take form, and reach fulfillment by the Tao. The Tao is considered as a hidden, natural force that gives rise to the expansive forces (yang), and the contractive forces (yin) in the universe (Axia College of University of Phoenix, 2010). As a result, the sage is wise enough not to intervene; therefore, he or she simply follows the patterns of the universe since the Tao gives order and substance to all things.
In closing, Western and Eastern philosophy are similar in that they both seek to accrue knowledge; however, their methods and values for doing so are different. Western philosophy focuses on understanding why something happened, what caused it, and what the effect of it is, whereas Eastern philosophy does not spend time rationalizing why. The Easterns embrace their outcomes, learn to adapt to situations, and live in a content manner by recognizing the foundation of life is utter peace.


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