Friday, July 1, 2016

On the state of Eastern Philosophy today

One of my abiding interests is Eastern Philosophy. To be more specific, the Upanishads, which after years of study and deliberation, I'm fairly convinced had outlined in minute detail millenia ago whatever western philosophy converged to towards the mid 19th century, plus more that western philosophy will probably some day converge to, if it is able to circumvent some roadblocks it has built in to its approach. On the other hand, the problem with eastern philosophy is that little progress has been made since the days of the vedantic school and Upanishads, and whatever progress has been made has come after gaps of centuries. Patanjali made some significant inroads; and then centuries later Buddha made a bit of incremental progress; a millenia after that Adi Sankara made some strides, and the progress since then has been very muted, although some incremental advances in recent history have been made by the yogic school. But even their most powerful contribution is not a recent addition: the idea that the process of learning, or of attaining truth for lack a better English translation, is clearly not an exercise to be carried out using only your intellect, a fundamental idea that western Philosophy is yet to even conceive, and chances are slim it ever will. Still, it must be admitted that a spirit of active debate is missing from eastern philosophy when you compare it to its western counterpart - the focus is instead on disseminating what is already out there, on eulogizing its past achievements - and is inhibiting futher progress in the field. Alternately, I'm also open to the idea that progress must diminish asymptotically the closer you inch to the truth, and some of that may be at work here.

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