Engaging Eastern Religion

Winfried Corduan

Winfried CorduanWinfried Corduan (Ph.D., Rice University, 1977) is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University in Indiana, where his teaching of various undergraduate courses in world religions is about to culminate in a graduate program in that subject (www.taylor.edu/mars). He has traveled widely, including trips to India to teach local Christians how to understand Hinduism and to relate to their Hindu neighbors. His numerous articles and ten books include Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions, A Tapestry of Faiths: Common Threads between Christianity & World Religions, and Pocket Guide to World Religions. A former president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Corduan is currently webmaster for the International Society of Christian Apologetics. His almost-daily mercurial blog has acquired a steady following.

Address: Words and Meanings: Can Hindu Concepts Address Western Questions?

Do Indian and Western philosophers deal with the same issues? Let us look at an example. A famous line in the Bhagavad Gita states: Naasato vidyate bhaavo, naabaavo vidyate satah. (B.G. 2:16 a). This statement has legitimately been translated in various ways ranging from "The unreal has no being; the real has no non-being," to "Non-existence does not endure; true being does not change." We can observe two important points in this case study: 1) This quotation appears to address the Parmenidean problem of being and non-being. 2) Because this issue is developed in Sanskrit, we must realize that it is not possible to come up with a direct, unambiguous translation into English. From here I generalize to the fact that, even though within the Hindu schools of philosophy we seem to find many of the same issues addressed as in the West, the linguistic differences also reveal different conceptual frameworks. By means of several other examples, I will try to show that sometimes there is no genuine crossover, whereas at other times, the Hindu solution may provide us with a new and helpful perspective on old issues.

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Justin D. Barnard
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