In the preface to the second edition of Durant's The Story of Philosophy, Durant says, in reference to the book's exposition: "The worst sin of all...was the omission of Chinese and Hindu philosophy." But did Durant really have a consistent, coherent idea of what constitutes philosophy's essence?
I raise this question because Durant seems to take both sides on the question of whether there is such a thing as Eastern philosophy.
On one hand, Our Oriental Heritage warns us to be wary of assumptions that philosophy has always been an exclusively Western phenomenon. Durant essays about how “Historians of philosophy have been wont to begin their story with the Greeks….It may be that we are all mistaken"(193). "Confucius is to be cherished as “the most influential philosopher in history” (658). “As far back as we can pry into the past of China we find philosophers” (650-1). Overall, “philosophy...appears in the Orient a little sooner than in Europe...” (936). In particular, “nowhere else has the lust for philosophy been so strong as in India” (533).
On the other hand, though, Our Oriental Heritage speaks of how “The Upanishads…represent not a consistent system of philosophy, but the opinions, apercus and lessons of many men, in whom philosophy and religion were still fused…” (410). The Hindus, notwithstanding their “love” of logic, “did not exalt logic” (592). Generally, “every art, in India, belonged to religion…, and was the handmaiden of theology” (595). “India drowns philosophy in religion, and fails to emancipate reason from hope” (936). With reference to Confucian thought, Durant even admits that “We shall not find here a system of philosophy¯a consistent structure of logic, metaphysics, ethics and politics dominated by one idea” (666), this “domination by one idea” marking the “essence of philosophy” ).
As a former seminarian, what did Durant make of the Scholastic view that “the application of reason to…the data of revelation, is and remains theology: it does not become philosophy”?