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History of Philosophy
Ancient Philosophy - Retrospect
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)


In the systems of thought which flourished among the great historical nations of the East, there is, as has been observed, an almost complete lack of the rational element. In some of them, however, and especially in the Indian systems, there is abundance of speculation. Living in a country where there was practically no struggle for life, where the means of subsistence were produced without much effort on the part of the tillers of the soil, and where for thousands of years war was unknown save the war of extermination waged against the original dwellers in the land, the Hindus gave themselves up unreservedly to the solution of the problems, Whence are we come? Whereby do we live? and Whither do we go? In solving these problems, however, the Hindus, while they succeeded better than other Oriental peoples in separating the speculative from the mythological, failed to develop the rational or dialectical phase of thought. Their speculative systems are positive rather than argumentative. It was in Greece that philosophy as a dialectical, argumentative science found its first home. There can be no doubt that the systems which have just been sketched exercised some, if only an indefinite, influence on the speculative efforts of the first philosophers of Greece. The geographical contiguity and the commercial intercourse of the Hellenic colonies with the countries of the interior of Asia render such a supposition probable. It was not, however, until Greek philosophy had run its practically independent course of national development, that the religious systems of the Orient were finally united with the great current of Greek thought, East and the West pouring their distinctive contributions into the common stream of Greco-Oriental theosophy. For bibliography, cf. De la Saussaye, Lehrbuch, II, 4, and Manual, p. 497. Consult Max Muller, The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy (London, 1899), and Deussen, Das System des Vedanta (1883), and Allg. Gesch. der Philosophie (1899).

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