What the Buddha Thought

ISBN-10: 1845536142

ISBN-13: 9781845536145

Edition: 2009

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This book argues that the Buddha was one of the most brilliant and original thinkers of all time. While the book is intended to serve as an introduction to the Buddhas thought, and hence even to Buddhism itself, it also has larger aims: it argues that we can know far more about the Buddha than it is fashionable among scholars to admit, and that his thought has a greater coherence than is usually recognised. It contains much new material. Interpreters both ancient and modern have taken little account of the historical context of the Buddhas teachings; but relating them to early brahminical texts, and also to ancient Jainism, gives a much richer picture of his meaning, especially when his satire and irony are appreciated. Incidentally, since many of the Buddhas allusions can only be traced in the Pali versions of surviving texts, the book establishes the importance of the Pali Canon as evidence. Though the Buddha used metaphor extensively, he did not found his arguments upon it like earlier thinkers: his capacity for abstraction was a breakthrough. His ethicising older ideas of rebirth and human action (karma) was also a breakthrough for civilisation. His theory of karma is logically central to his thought. Karma is a process, not a thing; moreover, it is neither random nor wholly determined. These ideas about karma he generalised to every component of conscious experience except nirvana, the liberation from that chain of experience. Morally, karma both provided a principle of individuation and asserted the individuals responsiblity for his own destiny.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Equinox Publishing Limited
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.836
Language: English

Background Information
More about Karma, and Its Social Context
The Antecedents of the Karma Doctrine in Brahminism
Jain Antecedents
What Did the Buddha Mean by 'No Soul'?
The Buddha's Positive Values: Love and Compassion
Assessing the Evidence
Everything Is Burning: The Centrality of Fire in the Buddha's Thought
Causation and Non-random Process
Cognition; Language; Nirvana
The Buddha's Pragmatism and Intellectual Style
The Buddha as Satirist; Brahmin Terms as Social Metaphors
Is This Book To Be Believed?
Appendix: The Buddha's Appropriation of Four (or Five?) Brahminical Terms
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