September 09, 2006

The New Age movement, a near quagmire

Eastern Influences on Western Philosophy: A Reader by Alexander Lyon Macfie (Editor) 392 pages Edinburgh University Press (July 30, 2003) ISBN: 0748617418
Book Description: The influence of Eastern ideas on Western thought has become an increasingly vexed issue in recent times. Opinion is divided between two main schools: those who believe that Oriental ideas have exercised a considerable influence on Western thought, and those who, for a variety of reasons, believe that such influence has remained negligible. A. L. Macfie suggests that the reality lies somewhere between these two extremes, and that the interest taken by Western thinkers in Eastern thought in the modern period has moved from one of passing interest, through serious attention, to some level of assimilation and acceptance.
Eastern Influences on Western Philosophy explores the extent of Oriental influence on European thought, primarily in the period of the Enlightenment and the nineteenth-century period of doubt and scepticism that followed it. It is the first Reader to bring together in one place a series of specific historical and textual studies of Oriental influence upon European thinkers. Starting with Malebranche and ending with Heidegger, the volume covers Western thinkers including Leibniz, Voltaire, Hume, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Emerson, Thoreau, Nietzsche, Jung and Buber. To accompany the readings, the editor's introduction explores the idea of influence in the context of the chosen readings, and at the same time raises the question of how far Edward Said's thesis regarding Orientalism actually applies to Western thought. See all
Customer Reviews:Eastern Influences on Western Philosophy, October 2, 2005 Reviewer: Professor Tatiana Alekseeva (Moscow, Vernadsky prospect, 76, Russian Federation) - See all my reviews From my point of view, this book is very useful for the teaching of the history of political thought as well as political theory and philosophy. The tendency to separate Western thought fom all the World outside is quite obvious and will have bad consequences. The Classics of philosophy were much more openminded than contemporary professors - it is well shown in the book. We need the books like this one to overcome predicted or real clashes of civilizations. My congratulations to the authors and editors!
Before the New Age movements..., April 12, 2005 Reviewer: John Landon "nemonemini" (NYC, NY United States) - See all my reviews This is an excellent compendium of essays dealing with the influence of Oreintal, especially Indian, religion on Western philosophy in the generation of the Romantics, and after. Although the influence since the Renaissance is clear, the generation of Herder, Schlegel, Hegel, and Schopenhauer shows an especially close recognition of the significance of the Indian classics. The essays stretch for Malebranche to Martin Buber, with the studies of Schopenhauer being of especial interest to this reviewer, along with the documentation of Nietzsche's contact with the (infamous) Code of Manu.
After the Theosophical movement the flood of crackpots, shady gurus, bald wonders and occult fascists makes the question of these Oriential influences into a near quagmire, and the New Age movement(s) are almost a disservice to the reality. The earlier, almost innocent, investigations of the philosophers during first contact are refreshing for that reason. German philosophy in its profundity spawned a 'latent Upanishad', so to speak, in its great ruminations, a point clear from the case of Schopenhauer, where the connection suddely becomes clear.

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