The study of philosophy is generally divided in two ways. First, there is the obvious division between the branches of philosophy, with a division of philosophy into various subjects of discussion. However, of equal importance to understanding philosophy are the regional and historical aspects of its development. Hence, it is also useful to divide philosophical works, authors and ideas into time and space, to understand how they came about.
In general, philosophical traditions are divided into “Western” and “Eastern” traditions. These names are somewhat obsolete, since so-called Western traditions are studied in modern Asia, while some Buddhist and other philosophies have found their way into Europe and North America. It is important to note that these labels are historical ones that describe philosophical traditions, rather than a true picture of the modern philosophical landscape.
Western philosophy describes the development of philosophical ideas that originated in ancient Greece. Traditionally, Western philosophy is divided into four main periods:
East of Greece, philosophy took a different course in its development. Especially in China and India, philosophical ideas began to blend into religion and took on a very different character than western philosophy. Some of the ideas of Eastern philosophy have survived with little interruption into contemporary life, often integrated into religious traditions.
Although Western philosophy began with a seperation of philosophical ideas from religious ones, it has not lived in isolation from religion over the years. Philosophers throughout the western tradition have been influenced by, and religion certainly attempts to answer certain philosophical questions. Hence, Abrahamic religions in the West and Middle-East have their own philosophical traditions.