Philosophy Salon: Eastern Philosophy
There is a rich tradition of deeply insightful philosophy originating in Asia that is often sadly overlooked in the West. And while Eastern philosophers have tackled many of the same problems as their Western counterparts - truth, beauty, existence, ethics, etc - they have often taken very different perspectives and arrived at radically different outcomes. In this Salon, we will look at some of the big ideas that emerged from three of the major threads of Eastern philosophy, including Confucianism, Taoism and Zen Buddhism.
Confucius lived around 6th-5th century BCE - at a very similar time to many of the great Ancient Greek philosophers - and his writings, particularly in Analects, has had a profound influence on Chinese thinking, culture and governance to this day. He valued education and self-knowledge, and promoted importance of loyalty, filial piety and social harmony rather than individual freedom. His writings have been discussed, debated and built upon by many other thinkers following in his wake, such as Mengzi.
Daoism (also called Taoism) is often contrasted with Confucianism, being more fluid and spontaneous while also being highly metaphysical. “Dao” itself means “the way”, reflecting that Daoism was more of a means of existence than a disembodied abstract philosophy. Daoism is often thought to have begin with the semi-mythical philosopher Laozi and his Dao De Jing (also called the Tao Te Ching), and the Zhuangzi, composed by master Zhuang in the 4th century BCE, and still has an influence in China and around the world to this day.
Zen Buddhism is an offshoot of Mahāyāna Buddhism that emerged in China around the 6th or 5th century BCE with the philosopher Bodhidharma, who is thought to have brought Buddhism to China from India. Zen was strongly influenced by Taoism, and also made its way to Japan, where it developed even further. Zen is almost an anti-philosophy that ridicules the seriousness and commitment to abstract ideas found in many philosophies. Instead it focuses on practice, meditation and contemplation of paradoxes to snap people out of their daze and give them a flash of enlightenment.
18.00 Cake Wines Bar Opens
17.00 Welcome & Introduction
19.15 Key Idea 1 & conversation
19.45 Key Idea 2 & conversation
20.15 Key Idea 3 & conversation
21.00 Salon Concludes, Bar Open for Continued Conversation
'If you do not change direction, you may end up where you're heading.'
– Lao Tzu
ABOUT PHILOSOPHY SALONS
Philosophy Salons are an intimate experience for those interested in the practical application of wisdom and philosophy. Learn about the ideas and works of some of history's greatest thinkers in an atmosphere of exploration and enjoyment. Hosted by Sydney’s resident philosopher Tim Dean, the Philosophy Salon explores important philosophers and their key ideas over a two-hour period. Philosophers selected over the series will include a mix of thinkers from different periods, schools of thought, geographical locations and backgrounds. Participants will be presented with a biographical background of the philosopher and will be given an opportunity to discuss their key ideas in small groups.
ABOUT TIM DEAN
Tim Dean is a philosopher and science writer. He has a PhD from the University of New South Wales on evolution and morality, and has an interest in ethics, the philosophy of biology, philosophy of science and moral psychology. He is an Honorary Associate in the Philosophy department at the University of Sydney. In 2015 he won the Australasian Association of Philosophy Media Professionals' Award for his writing on philosophy in New Philosopher, Acuity Magazine, Cosmos, ABC's The Drum and on Channel 10's The Project.