Kalanos the gymnosophist

mhcrxlc at dir.mcc.ac.uk mhcrxlc at dir.mcc.ac.uk
Sun May 5 05:50:39 UTC 1996

Lars Martin Fosse) writes:

>Re: Borrowing of ideas:
>Indic philosophy was studied
>extensively by Westernes in the last century, yet this philosophy had
>little or no impact upon our own brand.

I doubt this. It seems to me that it in fact had a radical effect. Not that
new ideas were adopted wholesale but that they were part of what went into
the creative mixtures that produced new philosophies.

I suspect that the reason people don't see this is that they don't realize
just how radically European thought has changed over the last 200 years.
(Many Indians have the same problem in recognizing the changes introduced
by contact with the West.) I am sure that Raymond (?) Schwab was quite
correct to emphasize the critical and revolutionary impact of the awareness
of oriental ideas.

>The bottom line seems to be that
>nations are influenced by other cultures if they are under military
>occupation for some time, or if they choose to regard another culture as an
>exciting model, cf. the modern craze for imitating the culture of the USA

The second model would be the case of the importation of Buddhism into
China, do you think ? But military occupation is always a two way process.
The occupiers are influenced just as much, sometimes more so.

>Also, the immigration of members of another culture into
>an indigenous culture should have some effect. The Western world today has
>pockets of Western Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, but they are still
>marginal. It remains to be seen if their influence will grow.

True, yet we have seen successive waves of influence for more than a
century now. Each wave seems to leave something behind.

>contact does not necessarily lead to the exchange of ideas, at least not on
>a large scale.

Again true.

In the case in point, however, it is really no longer possible to dispute
that major influences did in fact occur. For example, there is no doubt at
all that by the middle of the first millennium A.D. (and probably long
before this) mathematical and astronomical knowledge which came ultimately
from Mesopotamia was well established in India.

We know that the same was the case in Greece. The difference there is that
we have much more historical knowledge and therefore _know_ that this took
place much earlier.

I am quite deliberately choosing mathematics because this cannot be
disputed any longer. It is much harder to trace other influences but it is
very unlikely that, if the one transmission takes place, others did not
take place also.

Lance Cousins

Email: mhcrxlc at dir.mcc.ac.uk

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