Cover image for But not philosophy : seven introductions to non-Western thought
But not philosophy : seven introductions to non-Western thought
Anastaplo, George, 1925-2014.
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 397 pages ; 24 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL80.2 .A52 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



George Anastaplo has written brilliantly and persuasively about ancient and modern Western political philosophy and literature and about American Constitutional history and law. With his latest book Anastaplo turns away from his areas of admitted expertise to offer, in his own words, 'the explorations of a determined amateur with some practice in reading.' The essays contained in this volume were originally conceived as a set of seminars, each culminating in a public lecture, which in turn formed the basis for contributions to Encyclopedia Brittanica's 1961-1998 series The Great Ideas Today. Gathered in this one volume, But Not Philosophy provides useful and thought-provoking introductions to seven major 'schools' of non-Western thought: Mesopotamian, ancient African, Hindu, Confucian, Buddhist, Islamic, and North American Indian. Anastaplo studies ancient literary epics and legal codes and examines religious traditions and systems of thought, providing detailed references to authoritative histories and commentators. Movingly and thoughtfully written, the essays encourage readers to bring their own Western traditions under similar scrutiny, to study our own grasp of the divine, reliance upon nature and causality, and dependence on philosophy-to learn about what we are from what we are not.

Author Notes

George Anastaplo, author of numerous books, teaches at the University of Chicago, Loyola University, and Dominican University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This book features close readings of Gilgamesh, the Confucian Analects, the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, Buddhist literature, and stories from Africa and Egypt and from North American Indians. An admirer of Leo Strauss, Anastaplo (Loyola Univ.) treats these texts from the Western viewpoint that emphasizes nature as an everlasting humanly discoverable rational order; justice as universal natural right; philosophy as a life of inquiry for its own sake not reliant on tradition; practical wisdom as applying changeless truth to changing circumstances and relying on science and technology to explain and control nature for the good of human beings; and natural religion as critically interpreting ancestral belief and practice. He finds that these non-Western texts offer meaningful and suggestive poetry "but not philosophy"; they simply provide materials and occasions for philosophy and for the West to understand itself. Copious notes to each chapter and an index are included, but not a bibliography. This book is recommended for collections in non-Western philosophy, along with Kathleen Raine's Defending Ancient Springs (1967) and Francois Hartog's The Mirror of Herodotus (CH, Feb'89) and Memories of Odysseus (2001). For general readers through researchers and faculty. M. Andic formerly, University of Massachusetts at Boston