I sometimes feel an agony between these two, when especially considering the so-called philosophy developed in terms of modern terminology in Western countries.

I am now particularly referring here.

Thumbs up were given on answeres. Now granted, as I am asking there, sometimes I feel the so called Western thoughts ( or the thinkers ) seem to me to be trying to "understand" the Eastern thoughts to the extent which is something that can conquer what Western thoughts are not able to accomplish.

Zen, answered there, is simply, the way of thinking nothing ( in my opinion ), or the sitting itself ( so-called Zazen ) is the ultimate goal of Buddhism's way ( according to a book by Dogen ), but I am perplexed there, sometimes Taoism comes up and sometimes different school of thoughts come.

After all, could somebody entangle this complex "befriending" ( or attempt to befriend ) between these 2 thoughts and can in an easy way explain to me?

To me most of the Asian thoughts are just metaphysics. Only some minor difference made schools after schools. Or I would like to say, don't Western thinkers too try to mystify Eastern thoughts because after all, they don't comprehend enough or overvalue them too much? ( I may have to apologize for the use of the words though )

But I must say when the terminology is different.

1 Answer 1


First, Metaphysics originally meant arguing from first principles; this sense is now covered by the term etiology; and the term metaphysics covers a more ambiguous terrain - generally more akin to theology.

As for connections between philosophy East and West - this is happening slowly; the first works done in this area is more than likely like large brushstrokes with much detail and nuance missed.

For example, I read somewhere that the canonical literature on the Tao runs to over a thousand volumes; if this is true, which I have no reason to doubt, then one can hardly say the Tao has been translated in the West.

To put this in context, at least for us Westerners, this is like having available only Platos Republic out of his thirty or so works, and nothing else in the Greek tradition of philosophy; or, an alternative example, is to have only the book of Genesis available from the Bible, and no other texts from the Christian tradition ie nothing from St Augustine, or from Aquinas.

But there are people who are busily dissolving barriers, or finding connections and parallels; and lines of influence, direct or otherwise; for example I just read a paper on the connections and similarities between Suhrawardis school of illumination and Abvinaguptas Saivism which the author drew under a common rubric of the metaphysics of light; and he pointed out that there was once a system of divine illumination in European philosophy until it was decisively refuted by Aquinas.

This already covers a wide sphere geographically.

Interestingly, he points out that one reason for the ontological category of being to have a cause must be non-being, as it cannot lie in being; for which he quotes a verse of the Rig-Veda; and this has a bearing of course on the first line of the Tao.

The reception of the Tao in Europe is generally seen in a metaphysical light; even though if I recall correctly that the language of the Tao is quite concrete; Edward Said, once wrote a book called Orientalism in which he pointed that the West was constructing an image of the East that wasn't a true representation; he emphasised, I think the near East; but I imagine similar things can be said, and probably have been (as his book began something of an academic industry) for places elsewhere.

Still, it would be interesting to know exactly what are contained in those thousand or so tomes....

Remember, Hegel wrote on Meyaphysics, and Marx turned him 'upside-down'; and, I'd say an upside down Hegel is still a Hegelian...

It's worth quoting a few paragraphs from the text Heideggers hidden sources by Mey and Parkes

by 1927, Heidegger had engaged in philosophic dialogue with three of Japan's greatest thinkers of 20C Japan, whose formidable intellects covered a range of fields. Philosophy of science and religion (Tanabe), social and political thought (Miki), and metaphysics and aesthetics (Kuki); he had been introduced to the philosophy of Nishida, had ample opportunity to learn about the Buddhist theory of nothingness [sunyata], and the affinity of Meister Eckhart and Zen; and the basic ideas of Daoist thought.


In view of the...manifold opportunities that Heidegger had to learn about East Asian conceptions of nothingness from his Japanese colleagues...it is hardly surprising that the transition of What is Metaphysics was -as put by Heidegger himself - 'understood immediately' [addressed to the philosopher Kojimo Takehiko] by his Japanese readers. In fact Heidegger mentions, at the end of this essay, Hegels own equation of Non-Being and Being and this, to the author, exemplifies a certain reception of East Asian thought in German Idealism; and earlier Wolff, Liebniz, Kant and Herder had all written essays on Chinese thought.

This review by the TLS offers a cautious welcome of Meys and Parkes thesis, down-playing the parallels noted by Mey (as the possible coincidence of 'kindred spirits') but acknowledging the encounter with the concerns of certain Japanese thinkers as being more credible and germane to the development of Heideggers own thought.

  • I was not able to catch why you mention about Marx-Hegel, but putting aside now, your answer fits with my doubt, which is as you quote Edward, Edward Said, once wrote a book called Orientalism in which he pointed that the West was constructing an image of the East that wasn't a true representation; he emphasised, I completely agree. And I think Nietzsche or Witggenstein or whoever it may be, I am doubting if they read the books of eastern thoughts in their original languages which would be laborsome but I think mandatory since, the nuance could be highly
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 1:25
  • different and if they read thoroughly, they might have found out and said "oh, we have same kind of things here."
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 1:27
  • In what sense do you think "metaphysics covers a more ambiguous terrain - generally more akin to theology."? Theology? Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 3:13
  • ? Eh? To me, personally, any proposition which attempts to "touch" the "untouchable", from the Heaven to the Sein - being is living in the same island. To me, after all, what we know for sure, and empirically probably 99.999999999999...% correct is we are going to someday die. So if someone would like to talk forever until he or she dies about what does not matter while we are living on the earth, I think it's the way for them to live.........................
    – user13955
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 4:37
  • @christopher: I mean the difference between metaphysics as Aristotle concieved it 'thinking the sciences from first principles' and how it's now concieved. Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 10:29

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