The criterion that determines a person who is professionally trained in philosophy and does philosophical research, to be either a western or eastern philosopher is not clear to me. Suppose, we have a person from Asia(which is traditionally associated with eastern philosophy), who knows nothing about eastern philosophy(and perhaps rejects it) and works on analytic philosophy, developing on the ideas of Hume, Wittgenstein and Russel, do we call him(or her) a western philosopher or an eastern philosopher?

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  • This is one of those vague delineations that have clear cases and borderline cases, in which it is pointless to press the distinction. First, it is unclear whether to look at the birthplace/nationality, or at the tradition in which the philosopher works. Even if it is the latter, such determinations are, at times, controversial. Is Amartya Sen Western or Oriental? How about Karl Jung? How many grains make a heap? Who knows, and more importantly, who cares. – Conifold Feb 13 '19 at 23:38
  • I try to avoid labeling people, because it encourages splitting (black & white, all-or-nothing thinking). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splitting_(psychology) Eastern / Western indicates specific cultural traditions and languages involved (language significantly affects ideation and thought processes, and their expression), although one can find many similarities between them. – Bread Feb 14 '19 at 1:09
  • If you use Russell's definition then a 'Western' philosopher is someone who refuses to study mysticism, while an Eastern philosopher is someone who studies all of philosophy. Thus 'Eastern' usually means merely that they lived in the East, while 'Western' usually denotes a person who takes a particular approach to philosophy. These words can be highly misleading and are used in various ways, but this seems a common useage. . – user20253 Feb 16 '19 at 12:00

If you work in Eastern philosophy, you're an Eastern philosopher. If you work in Western philosophy, you're a Western philosopher. It doesn't have anything to do with your identity, although it obviously once did. Jaegwon Kim, for instance, is Korean and considered a Western philosopher. Alan Watts, on the other hand, was British and considered an Eastern philosopher (not sure if he was really a philosopher, but this isn't my area and he's the only one I could think of).

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