A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities

A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities

A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities

A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities

Excerpt

In 1976 the University of Hawaii Press published my introductory text on Buddhist thought entitled Buddhist Philosophy: A Historical Analysis. I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response to that work. Within a few years permission was sought for a Chinese translation of the book, and the translation was published in 1983. Introducing that work the publisher stated: "This book is largely an outgrowth of his [the author's] many lectures over the past fifteen years on the subject of Buddhist philosophy." To be specific, Part I contained the results of my own research on the early Buddhist tradition, while some chapters in Part II, especially those dealing with Mādhyamika and Yogācāra, contained the interpretations of these traditions by classical as well as modern scholars. My evaluation of these schools assumed the correctness of these interpretations and I was therefore arguing that these were incompatible with the doctrines of early Buddhism. However, during the next fifteen years, I undertook my own research into the later Buddhist traditions and realized the possibility of reading the more mature works of Nāgārjuna and Vasubandhu in a manner that would make them extremely compatible with the teachings of early Buddhism. This research was published in two volumes: Nāgārjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way (1986) and The Principles of Buddhist Psychology (1987).

The present work is therefore a consolidation of thirty years of research and reflection on early Buddhism as well as on some of the major schools and philosophers associated with the later Buddhist traditions. In a sense it is a complete rewriting of the earlier work, including the section on early Buddhism, which is simply an expansion rather than a reinterpretation.

In recasting the section on early Buddhism, I attempted to synthesize two modes of explanation. The first explains Buddhist doctrines in terms of the philosophical themes that are gaining currency in the modern world. This should enable a student of Western philosophy and religion to look at early Buddhism in terms of the problems and categories with which he/she is familiar. The second retains the classical Buddhist cate-

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