Difference Between Eastern and Western Philosophy (With Table)

Eastern vs Western Philosophy

The concepts of eastern and western philosophy deal with the various beliefs, reasons, and mindset of the human mind, and is concentrated around the people present in the East as well as the West.

The concept of Eastern philosophy originated mostly from regions of China (based on Chinese philosophy) and dealt with a descriptive method of understanding life. The central idea is based around “unity”.

The concept of Western philosophy originated the ancient Greeks, Europeans and the Americans. It is substantially based on Greek philosophy and dealt with an individualistic viewpoint of understanding life.

The difference between Eastern and Western philosophy is that the former is based around the belief of “unity” and was born out of Chinese philosophy. In contrast, the latter is based around the idea of individuality and is closely related to Greek philosophy.


 

Comparison Table Between Eastern and Western Philosophy (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of comparisonEastern philosophyWestern philosophy
OriginEastern philosophy is thought to begin during the Western Zhou Dynasty era and comes from Chinese philosophy.Western philosophy was born out of ancient Greek philosophy and was adopted by the Europeans and Americans.
PrincipleEastern philosophy is centred around the concept of “unity” or “Collectivism”, and concentrated around helping one another instead of oneself.Western philosophy is centred around the idea of “Individualism” and making decisions that would benefit oneself instead of the whole community.
ViewpointThe Eastern philosophy takes on a holistic standpoint and views every part of an individual as a whole and equals.Here, the human body and mindset have been divided into fragments or separate entities. Each part has a different value.
Nature of beliefEastern philosophy has roots that lead back to the Chinese belief of harmony among common groups, for example – Ying YangWestern philosophy has been viewed by many as having an argumentative nature, and mostly gives way to conflict between different groups.
Famous philosophersLao-Tzu, Sun Tzu, Mulla Sadra, Rumi, Confucius, and Siddhartha Gautama were few of the famous Eastern philosophers.Aristotle, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Ralph Waldo Emerson were few of the famous Western philosophers.

 

What is Eastern Philosophy?

Eastern philosophy was greatly influenced and derived from Eastern or Asian culture. Chinese philosophy is seen to be the primary influence here, and hence why you can find roots of Eastern philosophy being traced back to a few regions of China as well as India.

Eastern philosophy was practised by many famous philosophers, such as – Lao-Tzu, Sun Tzu, Mulla Sadra, Rumi, Confucius, and Siddhartha Gautama.

Each one of them has come up with their idealistic viewpoint that has influenced religions, politics and essential views of many people in the Asian civilisation.

Eastern philosophy was centred around the principle of “unity” among the people in civilisation or a group. The idea of collectivism was promoted, where one must practice the art of helping others in need, regardless of how small the favour.

Eastern philosophy has taken a few aspects of from the Chinese philosophy, such as the concept of having a holistic viewpoint.

People that follow eastern philosophy are urged to view every single part of the human body and mind as equals, and that every part of them is ultimately interconnected. One must see every part of themselves as a whole.

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Another belief that was adopted here was the ideology of maintaining harmony among all groups of people and following the rules laid down to maintain peace and serenity.

Eastern Philosophy
 

What is Western Philosophy?

Western philosophy was inherently born out of ancient Greek philosophy and was later on adopted by the Europeans and Americans.

Many famous philosophers such as Aristotle, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Ralph Waldo Emerson worked with different ideas surrounding Western philosophy and ultimately integrated aspects of other philosophies as well.

The main principle that was debated upon here was that of “individualism”—the idea of practising self-preservation and taking care of oneself before others were emphasised here. Few philosophers also discussed that only through helping oneself can you help others.

Western philosophy also revolved the idea of treating every part of one’s body as a separate fragment instead as a whole. Each section or entity has a different value.

It was also observed later on that Western philosophy was often discussed in an argumentative nature, forcing others to follow the various belief systems present within it. The idea of conflict was emphasised here.

Western Philosophy scaled

Main Differences Between Eastern and Western Philosophy

  • Eastern philosophy originated from places such as China and India (mainly Chinese philosophy), while Western philosophy originated from Ancient Greek.
  • Eastern philosophy followed the principle of collectivism or “unity”, while Western philosophy followed the idea of “individualism” and making decisions that benefit oneself.
  • Eastern philosophy followed more of a holistic viewpoint, whereas Western philosophy followed the idea of viewing every part of an individual as a separate entity or fragment.
  • Eastern philosophy has roots that lead back to the Chinese belief of harmony. In contrast, Western philosophy has been viewed by many as having an argumentative nature and mostly gives way to conflict.
  • Some Eastern philosophers included Lao-Tzu, Sun Tzu, Mulla Sadra, Rumi, Confucius, and Siddhartha Gautama. At the same time, those who followed Western philosophy were – Aristotle, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

Conclusion

Both the Eastern and Western philosophies have greatly influenced the various cultures and people in today’s world. The Eastern philosophy, which originated in China, is till date, followed in many regions of Asia and has influenced many religions as well as the politics of a few nations.

Western philosophy has played a significant role in changing the viewpoint of people in the West, such as the Americans and Europeans. Eastern philosophy has instilled the belief of collectivism and living in harmony, while Western philosophy puts forward the idea of practising self-preservation and making decisions that benefit oneself. Both these types of philosophies have shaped the mindsets of many people, and in their ways have helped build the world that we know today.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Eastern and Western Philosophy

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Eastern and Western Philosophy. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Differences Between Eastern And Western Philosophy