Chapter 12: A Single Humanity Rejoicing
I said, “I do not need to explain it - because there is no distinction. Who has told you that there is any distinction between Eastern philosophy and Western philosophy? Have you lost your nerve? You cool down, collect yourself; remember what you wanted to ask me.
“Is this a question? Can philosophy be divided into Eastern and Western? Philosophy is literally.the word means love of wisdom. Now, love of wisdom can exist anywhere; it will be the same love of wisdom. It is an inquiry into truth. Do you think truth is different in the West? Do you think truth changes itself according to the climate, nation, geography?
“I am not here to explain the distinction; first you have to explain to me on what grounds you have asked the question. You tell me how philosophy can be Eastern or Western. It is such a simple thing.”
There was silence for a moment, and I said, “Do you have another question or are you finished? Then give me zero, but remember, that zero is given to you by yourself. You have utterly failed as an examiner, and these two gentlemen are witnesses of it.”
That man somehow managed to come out of the shock and he said, “You are right. I had never thought that philosophy cannot be divided, because traditionally it has been divided.
“Bertrand Russell has written the history of Western philosophy; Radhakrishnan has written the history of Indian philosophy; Suzuki has written the history of Eastern - so I simply believed these fellows.”
I said, “But a philosopher is not supposed to believe. This is so obvious, such apparent nonsense. Bertrand Russell, Radhakrishnan, Suzuki, all are committing the same mistake: they are dividing something which is indivisible. And everybody goes on accepting it, just because great authorities have written.. Bertrand Russell got his Nobel prize for this book, The History Of Western Philosophy, which is a third-rate book, for the simple reason that from the very title it goes wrong.
“And then to write the history of philosophy is a tremendous job, it cannot be completed in one volume. It will need all the volumes of The Encyclopedia Britannica; then too it will be only a very, very abridged history of philosophy.
“To write one book and to give two pages to Socrates - what can you write about a man like Socrates in two pages? Two pages to Heraclitus, two pages to Pythagoras? - this is simply unforgivable, this is insulting. The whole book will not suffice even for a single philosopher: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Socrates, Plotinus - just a single philosopher will be enough. This is very idiotic, daring. And I have looked into the book - it is Russell’s poorest book, for the simple reason that you cannot put Socrates in two pages.”