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Philosophy 312: Oriental Philosophy
The Scope of the Study 

Abstract: The general approach to the study of Oriental Philosophy is described.

I. The main purpose of our study of Oriental Philosophy is to introduce some important ideas of Eastern philosophies and to show how these ideas are of significant practical import in everyday life.

A. This short course of study neglects explication of specific religious tenets and technical terms.

B. Much of the language used here is considered technically incorrect; however, as an introduction to Oriental philosophy, my intent is for the language to be pedagogically sound.

II. The following aspects of Oriental philosophy are not covered in these notes.

A. Significant events in Oriental philosophy will be referenced, but this course is not a study of the history of religions.

1. These notes lack many important names, dates, movements, and social analyses essential to an understanding of Oriental philosophy and religion.

2. Historical and religions backgrounds of Eastern philosophy have been kept to a minimum.

3. Even so, some background information is essential to understand and interpret the philosophies.

B. These notes do not offer a comprehensive or balanced view of the religions and philosophies described. Instead, it is hoped that they provide a basis for further study and clarification.

1. If you are interested in further study, some good places to start include the links to Oriental philosophies, various encyclopedia entries, and introductory texts in the field.

2. A balanced view of these philosophies is undoubtedly beyond the scope of any one person. As Huston Smith suggests, if we were to consider only Christianity, we would mention the following as being aspects of that movement.

a. Eastern Orthodox Christians who worship in ornate cathedrals in contrast to the Quakers who shun steeples.

b. Christian mystics in contrast to scientific Christians.

c. Christian Holy Rollers in contrast to Christian Unitarians.

d. The Inquisition, the Crusades in contrast to the Sermon on the Mount.

C. This is not a course on comparative religions.

1. We do not assume that one philosophy is superior to another--all these philosophies offer insights.

2. Our study eschews any such questions of superiority of any of these views to provide "the inside road to truth." Such questions show parochialism similar to the comment "Only in Montana can you have weather like this" or similar to the loyalty given to a state or pro football team by local peoples.

D. The subject of these notes is limited to some interesting features of the following philosophies because they are relevant to the modern Western mind, they all exhibit certain universal principles, and they all have practical applications for everyday life.



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