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Eastern and Western Philosophers: Comparison

Essay by   •  November 17, 2011  •  Essay  •  799 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,183 Views

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Confucius, a western philosopher, and William James, an eastern philosopher, are the philosophers who give the most compelling cases for their ideas. There is an obvious difference between these two types of philosophy and will look at the main differences before reviewing each of the philosophers and their ideas.

In western philosophy the main teachings are those of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and even the Samurai tradition while the eastern philosophy bases it teaching in Christianity, science, and logic. The main teachings of the western philosophy will be those of a cosmological sense, viewing life as a journey toward the eternal, being dependent on the inner world and liberating one's self by discovering the true you. Meanwhile in the eastern side the main teachings are of coming from something divine, viewing life as a service to a higher power and others, being dependent on the outer world and dedicating one's self to success and happiness.

Confucius was very interested in achieving the welfare and happiness of himself as well as the people around him through good moral character. Confucius did this by constantly obtaining all the knowledge he could get, his constant drive to learn all he could throughout his whole life made him a key part of western philosophy. He believed that learning and knowledge should be practical and make for a better life and to strive for the perfection of the human character. Confucius' quote "at fifteen, I began to be seriously interested in study; at thirty, I had formed my character; at forty, doubts ceased; at fifty, I understood the laws of the Heavens; at sixty, nothing that I heard disturbed me; at seventy, I could do as my heart desired without breaking the moral law" show his dedication to learning and knowledge and how through his life he grew from this knowledge. This quote also shows that Confucius' belief that a person is not always good and can become better and betterment comes from learning and service to others. Wisdom was also not something that everyone begins with but is acquired and that wisdom becomes an instrument for perfection. "I never take a walk in the company of three persons without finding that one of them has something to teach me" is another inspirational quote of Confucius that proves that knowledge is ongoing and all people can learn something from another to improve their lives. I find Confucius' ideas compelling and feel that no one should take knowledge for granted and strive to gain as much as possible in their lifetime while sharing what they have learned to other so they may have a new outlook. I also find his idea of constantly looking for your true self and growing as a person something that I do every day.

William James was one of the founders of the pragmatists of eastern philosophy who believed that truth was relative to the time, place, and purpose. James' quote "the

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