It is a fact that both the Chinese and Western philosophy have contributed immensely to human civilization. For instance, without Western philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and other notable philosophers from the Western world, freedom of speech and democracy would have just been a mirage today. And without Chinese philosophers like Sun Tzu and Confucius, the famous communist system of government may not have been as popular as it is today.
Well, despite the achievements of both Chinese and Western philosophy in our contemporary thinking, there are a lot of differences between these two philosophies. Do you know these distinctions? If you don’t, read on to learn more about the differences between Chinese philosophy and Western philosophy.
- Collectivism/individualism: A key area of difference in the two views is the concepts of collectivism and individualism. The western civilization is centered more around individualism. It tries to seek meaning to life with the self-being at the center as it is viewed as a part of the divine. It considers the human being as a part of creation and nature at large. Unlike the western philosophy, the Chinese philosophy, on its part is centered on the society as a whole or group of people and their activities or thinking to arrive at a meaning to life. And it looks at how these people attempt to free themselves from the “me” that is false and understanding the true “me” as it relates to the bigger picture in the scheme of things.
- Unity/self-dedication: On the one hand, Chinese thinking revolves around the importance of unity in life. It believes cosmological unity is the key ingredient in life’s journey. It believes life is a cycle and that everything that happens around it is important. It believes the mind need to be free first before it can be freed from its surroundings. On the other hand, Western philosophy teaches service to humanity. It preaches the concept that life is about being of service to God and the community as a whole. This is as a result of the impact of Christianity and its doctrine on it. Western civilization is based more on logic, rationality, and science compared to Chinese philosophy that is centered more on the two concepts of eternal and recurring. On the other side, one of the key points in Chinese philosophy is unity.
- Place of origin: Chinese philosophy originated from China as the name implies. The philosophers that contributed to its growth and development all have the places of origin as China. In contrast to Chinese philosophy, Western philosophy can be traced to Greece as its original place of origin. This is because it is mainly influenced by the philosophy that has its roots in Greece. This thinking from earlier philosophers from Greece profoundly contributed to the growth of civilization in the western part of the world. Also, Western philosophy also has roots from the Romans and Christianity
- Virtues/ethics: Western thinking lay emphasis on ethics. It teaches the need for individuals to conduct themselves and their activities in such a way and manner that will bring good to the generality of the people instead of causing them harm. The Chinese civilization, on the other hand, teaches more about virtues than ethics. The most logical reason for doing this may be found in it instruction in a selfless way of life and its emphasis on contentment with what an individual has.
- The search for truth: The Chinese philosophy on it part believes all things in the world are connected to one another. It seeks to find the truth through acts of meditation and righteous living. When it comes to seeking to know the truth or getting facts about a particular issue or thing, Western philosophy on its side focuses more on specific events, and the parts individuals play in that event. It lays emphasis on scientific research and analysis.
- Key schools of thought: While Chinese philosophy derives from the following schools of thought, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Yoga, and Buddhism. Western philosophy, however, on the other hand, is drawn mainly from the following schools of thought, rational reasoning, scientific experiments and analysis and logical thinking and reasoning
- Evolution/improvement: Western civilization believes there is a goal that needs to be achieved whenever there is a search for development or enhancement. It believes the development comes to an end when the needed goal is reached. Unlike the Western philosophy, Chinese civilization holds the view that there is no end to improvement and development, but that improvement and development is a continuous process.
- On entrepreneurship: Chinese philosophy, on the one hand, seems to discourage entrepreneurship by the individual entirely. It feels the individual need to control his/her passion when it comes to material and wealth acquisition. On the other hand, Western philosophy teaches and encourages entrepreneurship and free enterprise by individuals.
- On radical innovation/revolution: The Western philosophy teaches that the status quo can and should be subjected to criticism at all times. It encourages the spirit of innovation and introduction of radical changes. The Chinese philosophy, on the other hand, encourages that the state of affairs should be allowed to remain as they are and that they should not be subjected to criticism. It, however, holds the same view with the west on the need to radically introduce change.
Philosophy is a subject that has existed for a very long time in China and the western world. It was made popular by famous thinkers like Confucius, Sun Tzu, Plato, and Socrates and many others. Western thinking mostly originated from Greece, the Romans, and from Christian doctrines, while the Chinese philosophy has its place of origin as China. Western philosophy relies more on scientific research and analysis to establish the truth or fact about a phenomenon, while the Chinese philosophy believes all things are connected to one another in one form or the other and seek to search the truth through meditation and righteous living. This article was able to define philosophy and establish how it originated from both the west and Chinese side. It establishes the names of Famous thinkers from both sides that made philosophy popular and helped it to developed. The article finally discussed the areas of differences between the two theories.