59 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Patrick S. O'Donnell
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This book displays an impressive mastery of both the primary sources and secondary literature in both classical Greek philosophy and Asian religio-philosophical traditions. Its arguments are more than plausible, indeed, they are imaginative, courageous and persuasive. I had, until now, been unable to recommend to my students in "comparative world religions" a reliable book from which they could see the possible connections between seemingly disparate traditions. Much that comes under the rubric "comparative philosophy" is rather dated, superficial, or burdened with overweening biases and prejudices (not to mention bereft of historical warrant). I see this work as taking up where other pioneers have left off: Karl Potter, Ninian Smart, B.K. Matilal, for instance, in Indian philosophy, and Herbert Fingarette, Joel Kupperman, David Hall and Roger Ames, most notably, in ancient Chinese philosophy. Those students of ancient Greek philosophy who have read, and enjoyed, their Nussbaum, Sorabji or Hadot, will likewise be moved by this book. Having set an enviable and emulative standard, I hope it portends more works along these lines.
72 internautes sur 80 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Robert E. Morrell
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According to a familiar Japanese maxim, "The frog in a well does not know of the great ocean (i no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu). Many Western academics have long been quite comfortable in their Eurocentric well with Greece and Rome to the east, Europe in the middle and the Americas to the east -- all more or less joined together by the Three Great Monotheistic Faiths. Beyond the well lie exotic unexplored lands whose ways of thinking and behaving differ from those of us in the "real" Western world. Few of our universities have departments of philosophy that bother to offer even a survey course in Eastern philosophies; and even fewer really take the issue seriously.
With _The Shape of Ancient Thought_ Professor McEvilley has lowered a sturdy bucket into our Western well and invites us on a philosophical journey into one of these unexplored lands: Ancient India -- discussing the relationships and possible cross-cultural influences between early Western (i.e., Greek and Roman) philosophies and those of India. I completely agree with the unqualified enthusiasm of the six earlier Reviewers who have already taken the trip. I have little to add -- except a postscript.
Those who recognize the strong impact of Buddhism on Japanese literature will surely spot several chapters in the following list worth exploring. For example, Murasaki's appeal to the Mahayana principle of Skillful Means (hoben) in the "Hotaru" chapter of the _Genji monogatari_ as justification for composing "fabrications" leads us back eventually to Nagarjuna, the Madhyamika, and the _Lotus Sutra_. We are just at the beginning of the search for such influences.
Here is a list of the chapters following 36 pages of front matter:
Ch. 1. Diffusion Channels in the Pre-Alexandrian Period
Ch. 2. The Problem of the One and the Many
Ch. 3. The Cosmic Cycle
Ch. 4. The Doctrine of Reincarnation
Ch. 5. Platonic Monism and Indian Thought
Ch. 6. Platonic Ethics and Indian Yoga
Ch. 7. Plato, Orphics, and Jains [Jainism = Jyainaa kyo, Jinakyo]
Ch. 8. Plato and Kundalini
Ch. 9. Cynics and Pasupatas
Ch. 10. Five Questions Concerning the Ancient Near East
Ch. 11. The Elements
Ch. 12. Early Pluralisms in Greece and India
Ch. 13. Skepticism, Empiricism, and Naturalism
Ch. 14. Diffusion Channels in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods
Ch. 15. Dialectic before Alexander
Ch. 16. Early Greek Philosophy and Madhyamika [Madhyamika = Chuganha]
Ch. 17. Pyrrhonism and Madhyamika [Pyrrhonism >> Scepticism]
Ch. 18. The Path of the Dialectic [Nagarjuna = Ryuju]
Ch. 19. The Syllogism
Ch. 20. Peripatetics and Vaisesikas [Vaisesika = Vuaishieeshika gakuha]
Ch. 21. The Stoics and Indian Thought
Ch. 22. Neoplatonism and the Upanisadic-Vedantic Tradition
Ch. 23. Plotinus and Vijnanavada Buddhism [Vijnanavada. See Yuishiki, Hosso]
Ch. 24. Neoplatonism and Tantra [Tantra. See Mikkyo.]
Ch. 25. The Ethics of Imperturbability
Concluding Remarks. Then 5 appendices on the Aryans, the Aryan invasion,
Black Athena and Western Xenophobia, the Golden Thigh, Philosophy and Grammar, followed by a List of Works Cited, and a 29-page Index.
This is clearly a masterpiece! However, it may take time for it to be so recognized: many of us are still in wells of one kind or another with lots of other frogs.
73 internautes sur 83 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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This work is a splendid achievement. I came to it as a reader with a very strong background in the history of Western Philosophy, and only a very sketchy familiarity with Indian Philosophy. McEvilley has seemingly mastered all the primary texts in both traditions, and he discusses a vast array of secondary literature, by Western and Indian scholars, in a very fair-minded and thorough fashion. This book fully deserves to be required reading for anyone who wants to understand ancient philosophy.
He also discusses historical matters, especially pertaining to the Hellenistic kindoms of Central Asia, that were quite illuminating. I certainly had no idea that cities like Gandahar, in what is now Afghanistan, were Greek-speaking centres for many centuries. That region: Khorasan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and the southern parts Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once one of the centres of world civilization. Many educated readers might be familiar with the history of the Khwarazmian renaissance, associated with names such as Al-Biruni, Omar Khayyam, Al-Tusi, Al-Khwarazmi, Ibn Sina, and so forth. Those thinkers are often cited as the among the glories of Islamic civilization - in fact they represented the last gasp of Hellenistic civilization in that region, finally re-arising after the catastrophe of Islamic conquest. When the cities of Khorasan were again utterly destroyed by the Mongol invasions, that civilization was unable to recover, and the slow cancerous rot of Islamic anti-intellectualism snuffed out any further hope of revival. The decline of that region's intellectual life, from the early period McEvilley describes to the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, is a dismal trajectory to contemplate.
32 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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The Shape of Ancient Thought, no doubt, will send shock waves through the academic historical community, but I would like to address its impact and importance to alternative communities with which I've worked and studied for over two decades. As an exhibiting artist, educator of visual culture, and someone who has been schooled in some of America's premier arts institutions, I suggest that Tom McEvilley's book is an indispensable resource that the arts community has long awaited. All throughout reading The Shape of Ancient Thought I continually caught myself wishing I had been schooled with this book in my founding years. It has taken me nearly twenty years to come to, flesh out, and grasp the diverse philosophical tenets within this book. And still I had much to learn and enjoy in reading it.
The Shape of Ancient Thought concisely, and in this case 731 pages is concise, organizes the views that not only shaped past thinkers, but unveils a mutually dependent history that (for better or worse) has shaped our current environment. The student of visual culture (and if I may add the student of higher education in general) should have a handle on these ancient philosophical ideas and practices without which digesting much of the current tropes becomes a difficult task, or goes uneaten. To understand more fully, to be apart, and to participate in today's current cutting edge discussions a scholar as well as an arts professional needs to have filtered through the basic yet voluminous ideas that McEvilley collects in this book, but maybe more emphatically, that Tom McEvilley proposes the cross pollination of ancient philosophy, and in signposting the course, the reader is better prepared to do their own combinational work in today's demanding climate.
45 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
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I recommend this book for the following reasons:
1) I am not aware of any book which matches McEvilley's scope.
2) The book is a fantastic read for all lovers of thought
3) It is a must for students of philosophy, history, and comparative studies.
Yet, I wouldn't go as far as five or four stars, because of the following:
1) The book is only as good as it is exceptional. More books along the same topic are necessary for a good comparison
2) Regardless of comparisons, it is poorly structured
3) Dates are rarely provided
4) No discernible thesis, or when thesis is made, is unsupported by evidence, and/or thesis does not match arguments (i.e. thesis is contrary to what arguments actually communicate).
Because of the book's flaws, it is open pray to any form of "centrism" out there. If you're fed up with Eurocentrism or Indocentrism, you're unlikely to make new conclusions. McEvilley's central claim consists of the observation that Vedic culture must have somehow filtered through to Ionia, and Attica, but a near total absence of dates contrasts entirely with his well documented account of Greek influence on Vedic thought. Basically, McEvilley offers some vague hypothesis, undocumented, inchoate, and speculative of Indian influence on Greece, but documents uncontested Greek influence on Astronomy, logic, and Buddhism. Not to assail the fellow, but this approach is questionable. Had McEvilley provided crucial dates for Indian thought, his out of India notion would be on shaky ground. Failing to do so, he is likely to arm those wary of "Eurocentrism" with very faulty and poor notions about cross-cultural history, while perplexing those wary of "Indocentrism".