Major Differencies Between Eastern and Western Philosophies as the Basis for Adult Education

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Differences between the philosophies of the east and west

Western philosophy has its roots in Athens, Rome and Judeo­Christianity while Eastern philosophy is derived from Confucianism, Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism. As Greek and Latin are to Western civilisation, so classical Chinese is to East Asian civilisation. I will focus on four major differences between Eastern and Western philosophies.

1. Western Individualism and Eastern Collectivism

In the Greco‑Roman tradition, the image of Prometheus powerfully illustrates the struggle for individual freedom. Prometheus had gone against Zeus, the all powerful god who ruled the sky from Mt. Olympus. Prometheus annoyed Zeus by creating human beings. To protect the human beings from Zeus,
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Confucianism promotes conservatism and this stifles creativity and robs the people of self‑introspection.

2. Fragmentary and Holistic

According to Fritjof Capra, the emphasis of rational thought is epitomised in Descartes' celebrated statement,'Cognito, ergo sum' ‑ 'I think, therefore, I exist.' This has forcefully encouraged Westerners to equate their identity with their rational mind rather than with the whole organism. This division between the mind and the body has led to a view of the universe as a mechanical system consisting of separate objects, which in turn were reduced to fundamental building blocks whose properties and interactions were thought to completely determine all natural phenomena.

This mechanistic conception of the whole world is still the basis of most of our sciences and continues to have a tremendous influence on our lives. Academic disciplines become fragmented and this has served as a rationale for treating the universe as if it consisted of separate parts to be exploited by different groups.

The essence of the Eastern world view is the awareness of the unity and the mutual inter‑relation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestation of a basic oneness. All things are seen as independent and inseparable parts of a cosmic whole, as different manifestations of the same ultimate reality. The Eastern traditions refer to this

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