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The Place of Positivism - Dhamma Wheel

The Place of Positivism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
danieLion
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The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:29 am

I've observed a trend among modern Buddhists (and more so among scholars) to be positivist in their desire for an orginal understanding of the Buddha's teaching. By positivism, I mean basically what the Vienna Circle called "the verification principle" (I believe Mach coined the term; Bertrand Russell wants it be "logical positivism" but that, IMO, takes it too far).

For example, on the one hand, some scholars question the western hermeneutical idea of a canon as applied to the early Buddhist texts as appropriate; and on the other hand, Buddhists like Thannissaro have referred to the Pali Canon as a "living tradition," implying the idea of a canon as a "standard of measurement" is not very applicable (although he uses the term Canon a lot).

So, what is the place of positivism in modern Buddhism? Is it completely inappropriate, or more of a take with a grain of salt situation? IOW, is "originalism" valid?

DanieLion :heart:

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mikenz66
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:53 am

Hi DanieLion,

This sounds like an interesting idea, but in order for us to understand what you are getting at could you explain a little more in what sense the "desire for an orginal understanding of the Buddha's teaching" is positivist?

:anjali:
Mike

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ancientbuddhism
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Dec 31, 2011 1:25 am

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:09 am


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:12 am


alan
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby alan » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:24 am

Interesting idea you have there, danieLion, but you have fallen into the trap of using a lot of big words without defining them properly. By that I don't mean dictionary definitions, I'm referring to your understanding of the terms, and why they are of interest. I'm afraid the general reader will be left adrift, wondering what you meant, and unwilling to do the research necessary to properly answer the question.
Perhaps you can rephrase your question in a manner more user-friendly?

danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:52 am


alan
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby alan » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:31 am

No, it is not ironic. Where do you see irony here?
If "positivism" is understood as wanting to know what is really going on, and a desire for truth, then count me as a positivist. But so what?
If you have a question, ask it. And make it clear. No one cares about your opinion of the Vienna Circle.

chownah
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby chownah » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:32 am


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ancientbuddhism
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:59 am

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:22 am


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:27 am


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:29 am


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:42 am


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:00 am

[quote="ancientbuddhism"]One example could be that unicorn of Buddhist studies called ‘Early Buddhism’, led by such thinkers as Venerables Ñāṇavira Thera, Ñāṇananda, Analayo, Sujato et al.

Exactly! Where does "early" Buddhism end and "late" Buddhism begin? I see the phrase "early Buddhism" etc... all the time, but rarely a discussion of the time-line. The implication is the earlier the better, and non-Buddhist scholars seem use the phrase with an eye to educate us mere practitioners and relieve us of our superstitions.

I want the early, EARLY Buddhism! None of this contaminated religiosity.

It reminds me of the lady who would only read the words in her Bible in red because she wanted the undiluted Jesus. The flip side, however, is that you need some idea of the terrain before you set out exploring. This is where a trustworthy, reliable, map comes in. You know it doesn't exactly match the territory but you trust your conviction that the people who made it understood it enough to make a map of it for others.

But mere textual analysis is like map making without having been there. Or, is there more validity to non-Buddhist scholarship than the my analogy suggest?
D :heart:

chownah
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby chownah » Sat Dec 31, 2011 8:44 am


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ancientbuddhism
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Dec 31, 2011 6:35 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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ancientbuddhism
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Dec 31, 2011 7:00 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


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ancientbuddhism
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:49 pm

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)


danieLion
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Re: The Place of Positivism

Postby danieLion » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:53 am



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