Difference between Eastern and Western Philosophy

Believe it or not, in the modern world the ways of thinking between the West and the East are growing closer and closer. In the past that was not true.

During the Western age of Exploration the Western philosophers were struck by the huge differences of thinking in different parts of the world especially the East.

To the Western thinkers the thinking of the East seemed to harken back to ancient times. The mysticism of Taoism and the Upanishad seemed like ancient religion.

So in the 1800s there seemed to be a great gap between the West and the East. We are reminded of Kiplings poem "The West is the West and the East is the East and never shall the twain meet." Why was this?

My best guess from general thinking is the reason was not because of a generic difference. The guess I throw out is that the difference was only because of "one culture" at "one time" in history. The West became the "West" only because it was in proximity to this culture and absorbed its invention of thought before the rest of the world.

The invention was deep analytical thinking and I believe it was born in the Lyceum. The Socratics and the Pre-Socratics were developing an analytic way of thinking which was not original to this Balkin culture. Other parts of the world had develped an analytic way of thinking which came and went. But in Athens it didn't go away but it developed further. What was different in Athens and in Aristotle's school (the Lyceum) is that this thinking became deep analytical thinking. If you read Aristotle, he will seem very modern and deeply analytical. Yes many of his conclusions have proved wrong but it was the way of thinking that was important, literally the beginning of logic and real science.

This type of thinking took hold in the west in the Hellenistic time and later in the middle ages and took on a dominant role. Other forms of thought could not compete with it, they could only compromise or merge or lose against this type of thinking. The Catholic Church who adopted Aristotle is a great example.

Before the age of Exploration, the West was heavily indoctrinated with this thought such that they were surprised by Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Hinduism when they arrived in China and India. They never realized how much the Lyceum had changed their own thought!

Western Philosophers in the age of reason were deeply studied in Aristotelian thought even when they were deeply critical of it. Aristotles logic was studied until the 1900s and even today is studied. Nothing particular in Aristotle's logic or categories or physics etc. is important. What is important is the way the teachings form deep analytical thinking.

We don't realize that like the wheel or the use of the horse; this deep analytic thinking gives a culture a startling advantage over other cultures. Yes, Kipling's saying "..The East is the East and the West is the West.." in the 1800s was true but today is no longer true. The spread of science and its deep analytical thinking is making the East drastically different! And now since this deep analytical thought has spread, the "West" has lost a critical advantage over the "East" and the world is becoming a vastly different place. There is simply no "East" and "West" but only different 21st century cultural situations with different philosophical histories.