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Chapter 2: Reality
Ultimate Reality in the East:
India, Persia, and China
Introducing Philosophy, 10th edition
Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen Higgins, and
Clancy Martin
Reality as Spirit: The Upanishads
• The Upanishads discuss “seeking,” which
centers on Brahman
• Brahman is seeking of a Unity underlying
all individual selves and things
• Pantheism identifies God with Nature
• Atman is the “self” that is the key to all
reality since it is the “self” of all reality;
atman is not the personal “self”
Reality, Good, and Evil:
• Sixth century B.C.E.
• Persian reformer and prophet of the first
monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism
• Preached monotheism against the early
Indian polytheism
• Claimed that his god, Ahura Mazda, was a
creator, the one origin of all that exists
According to Zarathustra, Ahura Mazda
created a pair of twin spirits:
• Spenta Mainyush is good
• Angra Mainyush is evil
Because of these two spirits, the world is
set against itself, in an eternal battle
between good and evil. Everything that
exists freely chooses its alliance with
either good or evil
• Chinese sage and founder of the Confucian
religion, sixth-fifth centuries B.C.E.
• His doctrine sought “gentlemanly conduct”
through adherence to ritual
• Thinking is our fundamental nature
• Confucian “thinking” is a form of attention, in
which the Good Man fixes upon his “inner self”
• “The doctrine of the mean” claims that humans
should avoid extremity
or the Poets of the Dao De Jing
• Dao De Jing poets, including Lao-Zi: fifth
century B.C.E.
• Ancient Chinese mystics whose doctrine
was that the “Dao” or “Way” is the
ineffable underpinning of existence
The poets of the Dao De Jing rejected
Confucian faith and founded Daoism
•The Dao, or “Way,” cannot not be taught
through discourse or rules
•It can be known only through direct
acquaintance with it, and this can happen
only through meditation
•They were monists, believing that the
nature of reality is one and that this One
is conscious
• Sixth century B.C.E.
• The “Awakened One”: a name for the
founder of the Buddhist religion, the
ancient Indian prince, Siddharta Gautama,
after his enlightenment
• Buddhist view of the underlying unity is
sometimes called emptiness
• Emptiness in this context is not the
absence of things but rather a fullness
The Four Noble Truths
1. All is suffering
2. The root of suffering is desire,
attachment, and personal clinging
3. There is a way to eliminate suffering
4. The way to do this is to follow the
Eightfold Noble Path: right thought, right
resolve, right speech, right conduct, right
livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness,
and right concentration or meditation