(Depth of Knowledge Strength of Knowledge and the Pillars of Truth)
Philosophy is the science of wisdom. Actually, the literal meaning of philosophy is love of wisdom, Philosophical love meaning “philo,” and wisdom meaning “sophy.” I chose philosophy as a precursor for this discussion because modern academia regards philosophy solely as a Western convention!
Although Eastern philosophy is studied in rigor and depth in American Universities, some academics do not regard Eastern philosophy as a traditional philosophy, and in some instances, it has never been recognized as a true European style dogma by a minority of Western academics, which could be taken to mean that people in Greater East Asia have either a different type of interpretation of wisdom or a lack thereof. It is because of this view by Western academia that I believe the spread of Western fundamentalist thought has permeated the collective conscious in our time, and has done more harm than good in the evolution of thought throughout the world, including Asia.
Had the West been more flexible in its interpretation of philosophical dogma, and how it related to discourse for Asians centuries ago, the way present-day Asian thinkers interpret thought today, the Western world would be far more refined in terms of depth and scope and less imposing.
Had Westerners paid more attention to the likes of Shundai Zatsuwa of Kyuso Muro, a Japanese philosopher who fused the thoughts and ideals of Confucianism into a palatable Japanese aesthetic, we may have seen just a small measure of refinement between both schools of thought.
For example: Chinese philosophers tended to aim towards humanism rather than spiritualism; rationalism rather than mysticism; and syncretism rather than sectarianism. Western philosophy, however, ultimately sought to define the ‘absolute’ and to make sense of our world and how it related to Judeo Christian values rather than practical and ethical ideals.
Around 1897, Western philosophy had appeared in China through translations, and in the next decade many Western philosophical ideals were brought to China by students returning from North America and Europe. Western philosophy was most influential in 20th-century China, and promoted “pragmatism” and “materialism”, both of which are the anti-thesis of idealism.
One such Western philosopher that appeared in Chinese print was John Dewey. He was considered a thought reformer, whose teachings emphasized the individual, not the government. Remember, the teachings of Confucius were based off of these virtues: kindness, uprightness, decorum, wisdom, and faithfulness, which constitute the whole of human duty. Reverence for parents, living and dead and a paternalistic government. The teachings of Confucius also admonished individuals to carefully observe their duties toward the state whereas Western teachings corrupted the state and the family nucleus by putting the individual before government. These were the seeds of Western imperialism.
The fact that Western philosophy is so fundamentally ingrained in today’s thinking, even to the point where most people aren’t even aware of its unnoticeable effects of our perceptions, is a bit challenging. The notion that the self is more important than society is equally as challenging.
The late Mr. Martin Heidegger, who was regarded by some academics as the most original and influential thinker of the 20th century and an eminent philosopher of our time, was a supporter of Hitler and the pro-Nazi movement. Can you believe that? He was the definitive genius of our time. How fundamentally Western can you be? And we esteem this man in the highest regard as an original thinker, a man who supported one of the most evil tyrants of our time, a man who murdered six million Jews and millions more Slavs and Gypsies!