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

Topics: Chinese philosophy, Taoism, Philosophy Pages: 4 (1037 words) Published: July 8, 2013
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, he stole fire from Hephaestos, the blackmith god and gave it to the human beings. This angered Zeus to the extent that Prometheus was chained to a rock and an eagle tore out his liver. In European consciousness, Prometheus had become the hero who:

"...defied the patriarchy in the name of individual freedom, who brought light into our darkness. He was the saviour who sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, the benefactor who brought the gift of technology down from heaven, the teacher who taught us that we are not at the whims of the gods any more, who showed us how to use our intelligence to take control of the world".

The Christian tradition has also reinforced the notion of individual rights. The Bible speaks of God creating Man in His own image and letting him "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth" (Genesis 1:26).

By comparison, the Chinese live in a world of obligations:

"...obligations to serve the ruler, obligations to work for the family, obligations to obey elders, obligations to help relatives, obligations to do well to glorify the name of ancestors, obligations to defend the...
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