It seems generally acknowledged that Buddhism does not make a good fit with materialism, and I sometimes hear it said (or implied) that it is a form of dualism. But this seems unSATIsfying too. What do you think?
Buddhism is not materialism because...
-- it posits the existence of "formless realms"
-- according to materialism, all the aggregates are simply aspects of form
-- materialism identifies a self based on physical form
-- rebirth is impossible, as there is no logical mechanism by which brain functioning in a dying body could "cause" brain functioning in an embryo somewhere else.
-- if materalism were true, the problem of suffering could be solved through purely physical means: medical intervention, massage, exercise, yoga, the right combination of booze and caffeine
Buddhism is not dualism because...
-- substance dualism, at least, claims there is a category called "consciousness" which exists independently -- but this contradicts dependent origination and amounts to eternalism.
-- rebirth results from causality, not continuity
-- with regard to the form realms, Buddhism is actually closer to materialism because it teaches that conscious experience happens in conjunction with (physical) sense organs
-- "name-and-form" and "consciousness" are described as conditions for each other ("it is as if two sheaves of reeds were to stand leaning against one another...from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form...")
Therefore, Buddhism is not a form of substance dualism either. The topics which are occasionally posted regarding NDEs, mental activity in patients with severe brain damage, Alzheimer's and so on actually have no real implications for the dhamma. That is, the truth-value of the dhamma does not depend on these phenomena.
Because in the form realm, consciousness arises together with form, it would be consistent with the dhamma if we find that damage to the phyiscal brain impacts conscious experience. At the same time, because consciousness is not the same thing as form, it would also be consistent with the dhamma if we find that the experience of consciousness (e.g. qualia) cannot be explained purely in terms of matter.
What I'm getting from all this is that the dhamma cannot really be made to fit Western philosophy of mind very conveniently, though some type of property (as opposed to substance) dualism might be the closest equivalent, or perhaps phenomenalism. The dhamma offers an altogether different paradigm, which in part overlaps materialism, and in part overlaps dualism. Further, these categories are very similar to ones rejected in MN 63 as being outside the scope of the Buddha's teachings, and when the Buddha rejected ontological explanations, he provided Dependent Origination as the alternative.
Of course there are other categories and subcategories besides the ones I described, but maybe that is something to go into later.