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Please note...

Because I have more material on Buddhism than on the other traditions, it has its own webpage. Click here to go to the Buddhism page.


Also available in Russian!



The wisdom of the East...

‘How do I make sense of the world?’ and ‘How do I make sense of my life?’ must be the two most basic and important questions anyone can ask. They have led, in different ways, to the development of philosophy, religion, science and psychology. 

However, those of us brought up in the West can all too easily slip into the common assumption that philosophy deals only with the validity of arguments, science with matters of fact, religion with personal views and commitments and psychology with the internal workings of the mind. But such compartmentalisation has never been satisfactory – what we understand, how we feel and the commitments and moral views we hold, all influence one another. It is therefore wonderfully refreshing to turn to the various Eastern philosophies and enter into a world where the view of human life and its meaning is more holistic.

When I first encountered Eastern philosophy, I found it liberating to explore answers to the questions of life that were quite different from those with which I had grown up, and a fascination with Eastern thought, particularly Buddhism, has stayed with me. There is enormous benefit to be gained from even a brief survey of the traditions of wisdom and insight that have come from the East.

Some other resources...

James Feiser's An Introduction to the Classical Theories of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism at www.utm.edu/staff.feiser/vita/teaching/eastphil.htm or select Chinese or Indian Philosophy from the topic list on his Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy on www.iep.utm.edu

Those who want an authoritative, academic but readable survey of scholarship on Asian philosophy, should take a look at The Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy, edited by Brian Carr and Indira Mahalingam, published in 1997 by Routledge.

The Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions, edited by Mark Vernon and published by Chambers in 2009, is mainly concerned with religion, but there are entries on the Eastern philosophical traditions. It is easy to use and accessible.

Key Concepts in Eastern Philosophy by Oliver Leaman (Routledge, 1999) is really clear and straightforward and is particularly useful for revising key terms.

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy has relevant sections - of which the outlines are freely available, but details are by subscription: e.g. try www.rep.routledge.com/article/G100 for material on Chinese philosophy.



This is my basic introduction to the subject. For further information, click here.

world phil

There are sections on Eastern Philosophy throughout this book. For further information, click here.


Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism

All these traditions can be considered both as religions and as philosophies.

Whereas that distinction does not really hold for these Eastern traditions, for practical purposes most books on Eastern Philosophy explore the ideas of each tradition but their ethical implications, details of cermonies and lifestyle are generally mentioned only in passing.

If you are approaching this subject from a Religious Studies perspective, you may therefore want to supplement the philosophy with books on the distinctively religious aspects in order to get a balanced view.