Western Thought for Asian Readers: Traditions of Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Christians

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Item Code: IDG337
Author: D. L. Johnson
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2004
ISBN: 8186921257
Pages: 150
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 400 gm
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Book Description

About the Book:

This book acquaints Asian readers with traditional ideas and values that have shaped the culture of the Western world over centuries. Written in simple language, it throws light on dominant thinkers and ideas of classical Greece and Rome as well as the religious traditions of Jews and Christians. Greek mythology, Greek epic literature and drama are included in the survey. The impact of Greek philosophy in moulding of Western thought as well as the Roman interpretations of Greek philosophy are included. The history of Jewish and Christian interpretations of god and the human predicament are explained with Asian ideas. Special attention is given to controversial ideas which often confuse Asian readers, as for instance the Jewish and Christian assertion of their ideas as truth claims.

The book will be useful to scholars of Asia as well as to general readers and students keen on understanding the sources of Western culture and its appeal today.

About the Author:

A scholar of Asian Studies, Professor D. L. Johnson obtained a Ph.D. degree from The University of Iowa. He holds the A.B. degree in English Literature and in Religious Studies from Augsburg College of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.


THIS is a book for Asian readers curious about Western culture. It is a general survey of some of the major books as well as dominant ideas that have, over centuries, shaped Western culture. The survey is done in two volumes. The first carries the title Western Thought for Asian Readers: Traditions of Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians. The second volume is sub-titled Popular Culture: Books, Movies, Clothing and Cars. The first treats the "high culture" of the Western world. The second treats the culture that is popular and appealing to many young people in the West.

This book is a consideration of those works of literature which have been of fundamental importance in shaping the culture and society in which Western people, particularly Americans, live today. It might be argued that some of the ideas, which once were an important part of Western traditions, are not highly regarded today (that is to say, some people think many of the "old ideas" to be irrelevant and unimportant).

But Asian readers, who encounter Western people, will find that, indeed, traditional ideas and values do continue as important matters-even if they are thought by some to be matters which need to be countered, even negated. For example, many Western women, today, are not happy about the way women were valued in the classical era (that is to say, valued often as property). But women's opposition to older ideas and values does imply that the ideas linger enough to be opposed Moreover, some people are not happy with the claims of Christianity against the teachings of Hindu or Buddhist faiths.

Related, of course, is a problem which confuses many Asian people, Western thinkers (philosophical or religious) assert many of their ideas as truth claims. About this matter philosophers are, sometimes, less aggressive than religious thinkers. Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers assume that what they assert is true, even as they disagree with one another. In other words, religion is often a controversial matter in the West.

Traditional Indian and Chinese thinkers did not make much of truth-claims when discussing either philosophy or religion. The assumption of major Asian thinkers seems to have been that both philosophy and religion ask a person to embrace a way of living. Each promoted a culture, a value system to be adopted as a way to conduct life in an orderly society.

It might be the influence of Greek philosophy in the West that has inclined many religious thinkers to put their ideas into assertive terms. What is written or stated is to be taken as either true or false. Such an inclination is thought to be confusing, possible foolish, by Indian and Chinese thinkers who are not uncomfortably troubled by differences among religious assertions and practices. An Asian person easily assumes that celebrations of Christmas or Easter need not imply truth-claims about a virgin birth or about the resurrection of a dead man. But that is not always so for some Westerners. So, an Asian reader must be aware of the tendency of many people in the West to make religion something which it is not for an Asian person. People of the West argue about religion, about ritual, and, sometimes, even about philosophy. Such arguments might seem to be slightly "distasteful" and, certainly, unnecessary for an Asian person. But, then, cultural differences need to be recognized and understood. They do not need to be endorsed.

This volume will begin with a survey of ancient Greek philosophy and conclude with a considerations of Christian religion. Particular attention will be given to the way in which early Christian thinkers adopted Greek philosophical categories as a way to make a case for what they saw to be the truth-claims of Christianity. Thus, the book begins with Greek philosophy and ends with efforts to synthesize that philosophy with the claims of the Christian religion.




  Preface 9
  Acknowledgements xi
1. The Greek Legacy 1
2. Greek Religion in The Iliad and The Oddyssey 9
3. The Odyssey as Epic Literature 17
4. Greek Drama: The Tragic and the Comic 25
5. The Agamemnon 31
6. Sophocles and Oedipus Rex 37
7. Greek Comedy 43
8. Philosophy in the Classical Period 47
9. Socrates and his Search for Truth 53
10. The Ontology: Plato's Theory of Being 63
11. Plato and Art 69
12. Aristotle (384-322 BC) 73
13. Hellenistic and Roman Thought 79
14. Hebrew People and Hebrew Religion 91
15. The Rest of the Jewish Story 107
16. The Christian Religion 119
17. Finding Good Reasons for Believing 133
  Index 145

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