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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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4. Vaisheshika, Sankhya and Yoga

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Keywords: sensual knowledge, Purusha, Prakrti, Guna, Moksha

4.1 Vaisheshika – An Emphasis on the Empirical Side of Philosophism

The name of this Darshana is probably derived from the word Vishesha, which means difference, curiosity. Similar to other orthodox systems, its origin dates back to the post-Buddhist period, but the first records come from the 5th to 6th century A.D. The Vaisheshika Sutra is accredited to Kannada and the writing Padarthadharmasangraha was written by Prashastapada. The classic, later form of this system is not philosophically interesting. The development of thinking can only be reconstructed to a certain degree.

The oldest layer of Darshana is created by the phase of natural philosophy. The base is made by the consideration of the world being made of eternal elements. Such ← 39 | 40 → an attitude is not definite yet, it is neither materialistic, nor idealistic, but atheist. There are four elements: earth, water, fire, and air. Each one of them corresponds with a certain sensual quality and sensory organ. Later they added the fifth element Akasha, which means an empty cosmic space, and they elaborated a theory of how this corresponds with sensory organs. Their understanding of sensual perception can be illustrated with the example of eyesight.

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