PHI 105 Week 7-Assignment - Eastern and Western Philosophers Comparison Paper
PHI 105 Week 7-Assignment - Eastern and Western Philosophers Comparison Paper
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Eastern and Western Philosophers | 1 Eastern and Western Philosophers Comparison Josh Gorban Eastern and Western Philosophers | 2 Eastern and Western Philosophers Introduction Different philosophical perspectives are what make philosophy such an intriguing science. Will we ever fully comprehend the source or intentions of different philosophical beliefs? I suppose that would depend upon each philosopher, how much we know about them, and how much we can relate to their individual ideas. What we can do to help bridge the gaps of time and understanding is to carefully study each philosopher and their ideas, paying special attention to where and when they lived in hopes of finding common ground with present-day ideas that we are more familiar with. Eastern Philosopher - Siddhartha Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.E.) Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha, was the eastern philosopher that began the philosophy and religion of Buddhism. Buddhism is still practiced throughout Asia today and is becoming more popular in the western world as well. Buddha’s great concern for human suffering is what led him to begin his lifelong journey. He defined suffering as not only the distress and sense of unfulfillment endured in daily life but also as the long-term anguish inflicted on an individual’s body and soul (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p.530). Buddha was born into a life of wealth and luxury. Although he was blessed with every material possession and advantage that a man could ever wish for, at age 29 he left his life, including his wife and child, and set out on his own to discover the causes of suffering and what can be done to cure it. After six years spent roaming and meditating, Buddha achieved enlightenment, or true understanding (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 530). Through his enlightenment, Buddha concluded that human suffering was explained in his doctrine known as the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble truths declared: 1) There is suffering; 2) suffering has specific and identifiable causes; 3) suffering can be ended; 4) the way to end suffering is through enlightened living as expressed in the Eightfold Path, (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 530). The Eightfold Path is a principle teaching of Buddha’s that serves as a guide to proper living much like that described by Jesus as living a righteous and humble lifestyle to achieve eternal happiness. Buddha believed that the universe is a product of karma, the result of the cause and effect of actions, but he also found the most critical causes of human suffering to be ignorance and selfish indulgence, which hinder individuals from achieving enlightenment (Lopez, 2010, p. 2). This belief is the foremost reason why understanding the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path is vital for an individual to one day achieve enlightenment. Buddha did not believe in a godlike creator of all; he believed that everyone was responsible for their own path in life. Eastern and Western Philosophers | 3 The Eightfold Path was written to serve as a guide for humanity to follow to be able to walk through life without fear, doubt, and suffering. Western Philosopher – John Dewey (1859-1952) John Dewey was a western philosopher who, along with Charles S. Peirce and William James, was instrumental in the pragmatist movement of philosophy in America. In Dewey’s own words, philosophy’s “chief function is to free men’s minds from bias and prejudice and to enlarge their perceptions of the world about them” (Glebe-Moller, 2000, p. 1). Pragmatists discredited the idea that truth is fixed or absolute. Instead, they believed that truth is comparative to a time, place, and purpose and continually changes with the consideration of new information (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 222). Dewey’s form of pragmatism, instrumentalism, is the ideology that forms of human activity, including thoughts, are instruments used by people to solve practical problems (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 224). Dewey was known to say, “A question well put is half answered” (Glebe-Moller, 2000, p. 2). This quote implies that the conscious effort used to ask a question is half the battle towards solving it. Considering that everything around us changes with every moment, pragmatism seems to be a philosophical ideology that stems from a modern, realistic viewpoint. Naturally, we must all adapt with our changing environments; otherwise we face the consequences of becoming useless, tortured souls that do not grow and learn as human beings. In other words, John Dewey believed that humans hold the power to use their minds to make their lives better by solving problems; therefore reducing suffering and increasing the peace and happiness in their lives. Dewey held the viewpoint that “nature is experience…Objects are not fixed substances but individual things that are imbued with meanings” (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 224). This idea suggests that objects are subjective and their existence is defined by what they mean to an individual at any given moment. Consider a piece of wood – one person may use it to make a fire, another person may use it to put behind the wheel of a vehicle to keep it from rolling, and another person may use it to whittle into a beautiful piece of art. What the piece of wood is depends upon the context of each individual’s specific need for it (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 224). John Dewey has exceptional philosophical insight that he not only used to become an icon in the philosophical realm, but he also used his ideas to fight for change within his society. Considered to be a kind and generous man, Dewey was a fearless advocate of reform and a powerful social critic. He contributed to reform movements such as education, democratic issues, and even unpopular movements such as women’s rights (Moore & Bruder, 2008, p. 223). Dewey’s participation in the reform of many platforms, along with being one of the original founders of the Civil Liberties Union, makes it clear that he had monumental ideas about improving society. Eastern and Western Philosophers | 4 Similarities and Differences There are several differences between Buddha and John Dewey, particularly their lifetime periods and cultures. As much as they were both deeply concerned with humanity, John Dewey carried out his mission in a very hands-on manner, while Buddha chose to aid society through meditation and self-reflection. John Dewey’s philosophical views relate to Buddha’s Path of Enlightenment because both philosophers were greatly concerned with improving one’s self; therefore, improving humanity as a whole. Regardless of the great differences in their lifetimes and cultures, each philosopher went to great lengths to improve the society of their time. Conclusion While Buddha and John Dewey lived in two completely different lifetimes and cultures, it is still quite evident that they were both exceptional men and philosophers that cared deeply about their fellow man. While it is clear that culture and tradition have a major influence on how individuals think and live their lives, time and culture seem to have little affect on man’s search for truth and happiness. I think Buddha’s humble ideas are fascinating, but I find the Eightfold Path to be a bit too extreme. John Dewey’s views are much more realistic and contain concepts that I can understand and relate to. Eastern and Western Philosophers | 5 References Chinn, E. Y. (2006). John Dewey and the Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle Way1. Asian Philosophy, 16(2), 87-98. doi:10.1080/09552360600772645. Donald S. Lopez, J. (2010). Buddha. Britannica Biographies, 1. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database. Glebe-Møller, J. (2000). John Dewey and his Critics: A Lesson for Theologians?. Studia Theologica, 54(2), 127-143. doi:10.1080/003933800750059774. Moore, B. N., & Bruder, K. (2008). Philosophy: The Power of Ideas (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
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