9 research outputs found

    The Effects of Momentariness on Karma and Rebirth in Theravāda Buddhism

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    In the development of Indian Buddhism we begin to see a shift away from the early Buddhist epistemology based in phenomenology and process metaphysics toward a type of event-based metaphysics. This shift began in the reductionist methodology of the Abhidhamma and culminated in a theory of momentariness based in rationalism and abstraction, rather than early Buddhist empiricism. While early Buddhism followed an extensional model of temporal consciousness, when methodological reductionism was applied to the concept of time, it necessarily resulted in a cinematic model of temporal consciousness like that of the Sautrāntikas or in an idea of the tri-temporal existence of dhammas, like that of the Sarvāstivādins. It is in the accounting of the process of karmic rebirth that we can most clearly see the effects of this shift. The development of a theory of momentariness was incorporated into the Visuddhimagga by Buddhaghosa. In Buddhaghosa’s treatment of karmic rebirth, karma, particularly death-threshold karma, receives more emphasis in the process of rebirth than was previously found in the Suttas. The incorporation of “duration-less duration” via tritemporal existence by Buddhaghosa became necessary in order to explain karmic continuity in the rebirth process while retaining the concept of momentariness

    Common Ground in Inter-Religious Dialogue: A brief analysis of religion as a response to existential suffering

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    Philosophy of religion, approached from a comparative perspective, can be a valuable tool for advancing inter-religious dialogue. Unfortunately, “comparative religion” today is usually characterised by two extreme positions: 1) Comparing religions in order to come to the conclusion that one's own religion is superior 2) Arguing for a type of “religious pluralism” that relativises all religious truth claims. The former approach reduces religion to a confrontational form of apologetics, theatrical “debates” and polemics, while the latter reduces religion to a mere acceptance of pragmatically useful perspectivist narratives devoid of absolute reality or truth. Inter-religious dialogue should follow a middle path between these two extremes by engaging with underlying philosophical themes that are common to all religious traditions instead of emphasising the comparison of theological and soteriological arguments that may depend on justifications that are exclusive to a particular religious practice. The philosophical theme explored here is that of dissatisfaction and existential suffering in an imperfect world, a theme found in all “world religions”. Indeed, the diagnosis of this existential predicament and the hope that religious practice may allow one to overcome it appears to be universal, while its causes and the prescribed remedies differ considerably among religious traditions. Nevertheless, inter-religious dialogue beginning from a conviction that all religious practitioners strive for truth and salvation in response to a common existential experience may lead to a more compassionate and productive dialogue between religious communities. This type of inter-religious dialogue avoids accusations of falling into religious syncretism or relativism while encouraging diverse religious communities to address contemporary issues from areas of philosophical common ground. This allows for a more fruitful type of inter-religious dialogue and comparative study of religion that can be pursued while maintaining one's own distinct religious identities and particular religious truths

    An analysis of the Buddhist doctrines of karma and rebirth in the Visuddhimagga

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    In the Visuddhimagga, there is movement from an early Buddhist phenominalist epistemology towards essentialist ontology based in rationality and abstraction. The reductionist methodology of the Abhidhamma and reactions to it brought forth a theory of momentariness not found in early Buddhism. Abhidhamma reductionism and the concept of phenomenal dhammas led to a conception of momentary time-points and the incorporation of a cinematic model of temporal consciousness as a direct consequence of momentariness. Essentialism was incorporated into the Visuddhimagga precisely because of Buddhaghosa’s commitment to momentariness. This is seen in Buddhaghosa’s treatment of karma and rebirth. Karma, particularly death-threshold karma, receives more emphasis in the Visuddhimagga than was previously found in the Suttas. This is due to the need to explain the continuity of the process of karmic rebirth in light of the theory of momentariness, making it necessary for Buddhaghosa to synthesise momentariness with the tri-temporal existence of the Sarvāstivādins

    Political instability and authoritarianism in South Asia

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    This research builds on earlier research into the relationship between economic growth and authoritarianism and explores the factors leading to authoritarianism in South Asia. Research has uncovered a tendency toward authoritarianism accompanying an increase in economic growth in some South Asian countries. However, this trend only appears in countries suffering from political instability with rapid shifts into and back out of periods of authoritarian rule. On the other hand, India, pre-1983 Sri Lanka and post-2008 Nepal serve as counter-examples of established democracies demonstrating the benefits of political stability as well as providing a platform for development through the maintenance of open, democratic government and professionalised public service institutions. The isolated case in South Asia of Sri Lanka slipping from democracy to open anocracy post-1983, rather than authoritarianism, also demonstrates the benefit of nurturing democracy over the long term in support of the “J-curve Theory” put forth by Ian Bremmer. However, the same finding may also indicate that degrading institutions may lead to political instability that increases the likelihood that a state will fall into authoritarianism and a cycle of instability from which it is unlikely to escape. These findings indicate that the key for long-term sustainable growth and stability in the region is the maintenance of strong democratic institutions in order to create political stability

    Metaphysical Realism in Classical Indian Buddhism and Modern Anglo-European Philosophy

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    In modern Anglo-European philosophy there is a distinct progression from the metaphysical realism of ancient and classical philosophy towards a type of scepticism that eventually leads towards nihilism. Interestingly this progression also appears in the doctrines of the Classical schools of Indian Buddhism that pre-date modern European philosophy by well over six centuries. This progression stems from the application of the same types of logical and philosophical reasoning to the problems of metaphysics. The movement from metaphysical realism to representationalism to idealism and finally towards nihilism, which is seen within both the classical Indian Buddhist tradition and Modern Anglo-European philosophy, are products of a coherent and wholly logical progression from the acceptance of certain metaphysical principles. The fact that these same movements occur in two philosophical traditions that are separated by vast chasms in space, time and culture seems to point to an underlying commonality underlying human philosophical enquiry, whether this is a result of a common intelligible reality, an essential and universal human nature or both is a philosophical question we must continue to pursue

    Somewhere Between the Beasts and the Angels: Thomistic Philosophical Anthropology as a Schema to Reorient Modern Psychology towards Human Experience in the Lifeworld

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    Modern empirical psychology, as a reductionist, materialist, and positivist science, has to a great extent replaced philosophical psychology – or more precisely philosophical anthropology– in our contemporary world, and this has caused modern psychology to lose sight of what was most interesting in pre-modern psychology, namely the attempt to situate the human person in his experience of reality in the lifeworld (lebenswelt). This has resulted in the practice of psychology becoming detached from the realities of lived experience as its view of human nature becomes increasingly narrow, rigid and scientistic. This is evidenced by the current “replication crisis” in modern psychology, which has severely impacted the credibility of modern psychology as a field of enquiry. This crisis arose with an increasing methodological standardisation that is being pursued at the expense of interrogating the scientistic presuppositions that ground the study of modern psychology

    Ethics, East and West: The importance of English language and cross-cultural philosophical dialogue

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    Our environment is saturated in the English language due to globalisation; yet accompanying western philosophical concepts can be contested, even resisted, in different cultural contexts. The philosophical ideas associated with the Anglosphere are rooted in the cultural, economic, religious and social traditions of broader Anglo-European, or “western” culture and are decontested ideologically within that culture. The contestation of western ideology is beneficial for global culture, but this aspect of cross-cultural dialogue is often neglected in South Asia where English language learning occurs in a post-colonial context and is often accompanied by the attempted internalisation of Anglo-European culture and norms. This paper contrasts the philosophical underpinnings of ethics in South Asia and the west. The metaphysical and cultural frameworks underlying these systems can result in conceptual misunderstandings that can only be resolved by dialogue. The aim of this theoretical paper is to examine ethical theories and show how English language can be instrumental in creating this cross-cultural dialogue

    A Three Dimensional View of Karma in Early Buddhism

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    Detailing the connection between the various functions of Buddhist karma theory and rebecoming is a profoundly difficult aspect of Buddhist philosophy. While there is no definitive answer to these questions, suggestions can be found in early Buddhism that may help to reconcile the early Buddhist interpretations of karma with other philosophical and scientific theories.A great difficulty in analysing the functional aspects of Buddhist karma theory is the conflation of karma as causality with karma as ethics to create a strongly deterministic ethical theory of karmic retribution which de-emphasises notions of free will and personal responsibility that are fundamental to Buddhist practice. This research is intended as a new model to evaluate karma in light of early Buddhist karma theory. Following this model may allow karma theorists to shed our accumulated assumptions from the Abhidharma and western philosophy that bring substance metaphysics into the analysis of Buddhist karma doctrine. This essentialism is an unnecessary obstacle to understanding. When karma as causality is located within early Buddhist process metaphysics it can easily be analysed in a practical fashion and is found to accord with contemporary thought. Karma as ethics is more properly analysed as a satisfactory, but underdeveloped ethical theory. Only with these conceptions in place can the connection between karma and rebecoming can be detailed

    "The Great Ideas in the Noble Buddhist Doctrine of Liberation" in _The Great Ideas of Religion and Freedom: A Semiotic Reinterpretation of the Great Ideas Movement for the 21st Century_

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    This chapter argues that the Great Ideas are integral to Mortimer J. Adler’s Great Books Movement in much the same way that the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path are integral to Buddhism. Both use ‘Great’ and ‘Noble’ to point toward human excellence. For Adler, the Great Ideas are the metaphysical and moral concepts out of which Western civilization developed. They are the main topics in an ongoing great conversation that shapes Western culture. Precisely because these Great Ideas are great, insofar as they point toward human excellence (virtue), they ought not be considered the exclusive property of the West. Instead, as Adler recognized, they should be utilized in the analysis of other cultural traditions. This chapter uses two of Adler’s Great Ideas, freedom and religion, to analyze Buddhism as it is encountered in the early Indian Buddhist texts. It asserts all human philosophy and culture, including that of Buddhism, is ultimately based in religion, thereby making religion the greatest of Adler’s and the Buddha’s Great philosophical and cultural ideas
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