Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Academy of Asian Studies

First Advisor



The central theme of this paper concerns the way Eastern and Western (sometimes termed Oriental and Occidental) thought view the formation of the world; the means of arriving at these conclusions and the concepts or pre-conceived ideas upon which they are based. Western thought has been limited to views that have developed out of modern science, post-1500; they are mechanistic science, evolution, Whitehead's philosophy pertaining to God and modern physics. For the purpose of this paper, the emphasis in Eastern thought is placed on Mahayana Buddhism, especially the Madhyamika school of philosophy. In India it developed in contact with many other philosophical schools, and it if it is to be understood, some of these systems of though must also be studied. Therefore, the Vedanta school of Indian philosophy, Early Buddhism, and one of the creation stories of the Upanishads are used when they help to explain the Buddhist view. Mahayana Buddhism also spread to China and Japan where in developed in contact with Confucianism and Taoism, and so these are considered when they help to explain Chinese Buddhism. While this paper is focused on the views pertaining to the formation of the world, an important aspect of the study is to show what Eastern though understands by the terms "higher" and "lower" knowledge. As a further clarification, a chapter has been devoted to illustration how the respective interpretations of the world, in Eastern and Western cultures, are carried out in the everyday lives of the people. And finally, an effort is made to employ Eastern concepts in establishing a new basis for the organization and clarification of the concepts of present day science.





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