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Indian and Chinese Philosophy

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Adrián Slavkovský

This textbook offers a brief overview of the main philosophical schools of the two most significant cultures in ancient Asia, from where these thoughts have spread widely – it concerns ancient India and China. Most important philosophical concepts of that region like holistic or ceremonial approach to reality, openness to transcendence, pluralism of opinions, behaviour leading by a sense of harmony are somehow complementary to our prevailing contemporary Western thought. Therefore they can be enriching and balancing for us and our culture.
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3. Sense and Knowledge in Indian Philosophy

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Keywords: Darshana, lack of knowledge, discussion, scepticism, perspectivism

3.1 An Overview of Indian Philosophical Systems (Darshanas)

In the first half of the first millennium B.C., non-orthodox systems of thought (Nastika) were formed, for which the Vedas were no longer an authority and they formulated their own answers to philosophical questions regardless of the Vedic tradition or even opposed to it. The three most significant systems are Buddhism, Jainism, and materialism (Charvaka). These systems became a challenge to the Vedic tradition, which was then forced to justify its position in a new way. It resulted in the creation of six orthodox or classical schools of Indian philosophy: Sankhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. All of these darshanas recognise the authority of Vedas and follow the thoughts of the Upanishads. Tra ← 27 | 28 → ditionally, they are arranged into pairs of conceptually similar Darshanas. Sankhya and Yoga seek to free the man through the purification of the mind. Vaisheshika and Nyaya focus on the empirical and logical aspects of philosophy. Mimamsa and Vedanta put emphasis on the return to the Vedas and their concepts are based on the interpretation of the Vedas. These systems were atheistic at the beginning; under the influence of the development in India, they later accepted the thought of God, most often under the name Ishvara. They were created parallel to each other and influenced each other. A lot of irrational and fantastic elements remained in them.

A period of...

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