Is Indian philosophy the oldest philosophy?

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Ancient Thought < Ancient History < History

No. That’s a misconception often used to stir up emotions. Early Vedic Tradition has roots dating back to around 1100 to 700 BCE, which is indeed ancient, but it’s not accurate to claim Indian philosophy is older than Western or European philosophy. Philosophy is as old as human speech, possibly dating back 700,000 years with the evolution of the hyoid bone, and perhaps to about 1.2 million years ago.

The early Vedic tradition (1100-700 BCE) differs from later Vedic tradition (500 BCE – 200 CE), which in turn differs from Hindu philosophy (400 BCE – 600 CE). Early Western philosophers like Thales lived around 600 BCE, and there were others before him whose works are less known.

Philosophical traditions from Mesopotamia, such as King Shurappak around 2600 BCE, and Chinese traditions, such as those attributed to the Yellow Emperor, are also ancient and rich in history. Philosophical inquiry has deep roots across many cultures, highlighting the diversity and interconnectedness of human thought. Explore what we know about early philosophy, take the deep dive: The Great Philosophers Timeline.

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