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Eastern Philosophy [Hardcover]

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

25 Aug 2005
'The time has come for global philosophy to move beyond the model where the West is at the centre of radiating spokes of comparison.' Challenging the notion that Western philosophy is the best or only yardstick against which to judge the so-called 'non-Western' philosophies, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad sets up a lively debate in which the great thought systems of the East are engaged very much in their own terms. The author's impressive sweep takes him through South Asia east to China and Japan, encompassing 3000 years of philosophy and including the ancient philosophies of India, Jainism, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. At the same time, Ram-Prasad dispels the romantic illusion that there is some common mystical 'wisdom tradition' that binds together the cultures of the East. His aim is to give a sense of the diversity and depth of these philosophical cultures, as well as their sophistication and originality; and to make comparisons between them to illuminate their varied yet potentially universal appeal.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (25 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297847449
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297847441
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 13.5 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 544,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"it stands out as an achievement in the field of comparative philosophy. The intelligent arrangement of the book, and the clarity and charm of his writing, make Ram-Prasad's work one that is likely to endure... an insightful and subtle discussion... a thrilling array of possible answers... a first-rate writer of philosophy." (FINANCIAL TIMES)

"This little book is big on ideas. Sharpen your intellect and feed your mind with Eastern philosophical traditions to help you sharpen your awareness of life." (YOGA MAGAZINE)

About the Author

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad studied Politics, Sociology and History in India, and took a doctorate in Philosophy at Oxford. He has taught at the National University of Singapore and held Research Fellowships at Trinity College Oxford and Clare Hall, Cambridge. He has also been Visiting Fellow at Benares Hindu University, Ecole Francaise d' Extreme Orient, Pondicherry and De Nobili College, Pune. He has a range of interests in global and comparative philosophies, and is on the academic advisory council of the Global Religion and Ethics Forum, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and the Templeton Foundation's Global Perspective on Science and Spirituality Programme. He lectures regularly at universities in the USA, Europe and India, and will be a plenary speaker at the 9th East-West Philosophers' Conference in Hawaii in 2005. Ram-Prasad is currently based in the Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University.


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to eastern philosophy 26 Nov 2009
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Eastern Philosophy by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, UK, 2005, 256 ff.

An introduction to eastern philosophy
By Howard A. Jones

The author is a Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies of Lancaster University, UK. The book explores the commonalities and differences between the various religious philosophies of the East, and compares them at various points with corresponding ideas in the West.

The book begins with an exploration of metaphysics or, as the author puts it, Ultimate Questions and Answers, and goes on to discuss the Self, Language, Knowledge, and Logic, and how eastern philosophies view The Good. The author comments on the fact that early Indian and Chinese cultures did not seem to talk to each other, so many different schools developed in the countries of the East without a common thread. Even when Buddhism spread eastward from India, it took on various forms compatible with the philosophies of Daoism and Shinto already existing by then in China and Japan. While the Bible is a core scriptural text for all of the most widespread western religions, there is no one shared scripture in the East.

Though westerners tend to regard eastern beliefs as heathen, for Daoists the "dao" is an all-encompassing spirit, and the 11th-century Neo-Confucian Chengao postulated a "ren" that `regards all things in the universe as one body . . . and feels "ren" (benevolence) for all things, as he considers them part of him' - a rather pantheistic view of the divine as spirit, similar to that of the God of the Trinity as Holy Spirit and the views of the Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Trends in the focus on subjects of interest in the West can be seen also in the East.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Educational and Unique 21 Mar 2007
By M. Mazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This compact volume is a remarkable introduction to Eastern thought on its own terms--without Western interference, primarily focusing on philosophical thinkers from India, China, and Japan. From Zhuangzhi to Confucius and many others, the reader will develop a newfound appreciation for this nuanced subject matter. The writing is fresh, lucid, and accessible.

The chapters are titled as follows:
1.) Ultimate Questions and Answers
2.) The Self
3.) The Outward Good
4.) The Inward Good
5.) Language
6.) Knowledge
7.) Logic
Glossary of Names and Schools
Further Reading.

Each chapter comprises a comparative discussion; Ram-Prasad presents the different schools of thought with great clarity.
Many writers contend that Eastern thought, though amply translated nowadays, has to be "interpreted" for the Western reader. But this is a misunderstanding; expression of key concepts is possible in any language, provided one reads a writer of Ram-Prasad's scholarship, for he conveys the crucial distinctions and similarities among the various schools of thought without hinting at any of the traditional obstacles caused by translation. They simply do not get in his way.
Most writers use "interpretation" to "Westernize" Eastern thought--an excuse to make it commercial: for instance, books that recommend Zen to improve your golf swing. This is utterly ridiculous, and there are too many of these guides in print that simply generalize and present Western readers with New Age-type inaccuracies and feel-good representations.
Without focusing on this at all, Ram-Prasad did away with much of the nonsense I have encountered in this area of study. I enjoy reading philosophy in general and have several works on Zen, Taoism, and comparative mythologies. It was truly refreshing for me to read a book that challenged certain misconceptions and encouraged me to think and read further.
Few writers are also gifted teachers with a real point to make. I will refer to this book time and again.
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