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Buddhism Dissertation

This is an extract from dissertation on Buddhism:
Buddhism and Kant’s theory are both two theories that in many ways are alike, but at the same time they are different. They share similar and different beliefs, and practices. In this dissertation I will describe Buddhism and Kant’s theories. I will also show the similarities and differences between these two theories.

Buddhism is a religion and a philosophy. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddharta Gautama, who is known as Buddha. The main goal of a Buddhist is to reach nirvana. The Buddhist beliefs are called dharma. Dharma has many meanings. It can mean teachings, truth, and the elements of experience. Nirvana is emancipation from suffering. It is also detachment from desire. To reach nirvana it is essential to give up attachments to the things of this world, and to see the interconnectedness of everything, and to clear your mind so that you can see things the way they really are.

The Four Noble Truths, are the central teaching of the Buddha and can be summoned up by saying, life is suffering, the cause of suffering is desire the way to end suffering is to defeat desire, and in order to overcome desire one must follow the “Eightfold Path”. The eight-fold path is divided into three sections. The first section is good conduct, which includes: Right Speech is about being truthful and honest. Right Action deals with our behavior. To live a life where our actions are nonviolent. Right Livelihood deals with avoiding involvement in any activities that are violent.

Basically our jobs should be nonviolent. The second section is mental discipline. This deals with right understanding which foresights into nature of suffering. Right thought deals proper detachment from desires. The third section is prajna meaning prefect wisdom. This includes: Right effort, mindfulness, and concentration. It requires mediation, and requires one to use will in a correct fashion.

Kant’s system is based on his opinion that reason is the ultimate authority for morality. For Kant reason is directly parallel with ideals, and morals. Actions of any kind, he feels, must be taken on from a meaning of duty imposed by reason, and no action fulfilled for use, ones advantage, or only in obedience to law can be considered as moral. The actions need to conform to the moral law, and the action must be done for the sake of the moral law. A moral act is an act done for the honorable, and right reasons. One must have a duty code inside of you or it will not come through in your actions otherwise. Kan believes that our reasoning ability will always allow us to know what our duty is. For Kant the moral law is universal, and apriori. The moral law is generated by pure practical reason.

A big part of Kant’s theory is categorical imperative, which is a method for establishing morality of actions. The initial stage of the Universal Law Formation of the categorical imperative demands that a maxim be universally relevant to all reasonable beings. First, one produces a maxim and contemplates whether the maxim could be a universal law for every reasonable being. Second, one must determine whether reasonable beings would choose it to be a universal rule. To determine whether reasonable being would choose a maxim to become a rule, the maxim itself must be studied logically, and not its consequences.

For Kant, the moral law establishes the Kingdom of Ends, which is his end result. This kingdom is a union of different rational beings in a system of common universal laws that are legislated by pure practical reason through a person’s good will. For Kant the Kingdom of ends is an ideal state. In this state every being is both king, and subject. In this when you act to your duty you are king, and when others act to their duties you are the subject. In the Kingdom of ends to determine the system of laws we need to abstract from personal differences, and private ends, and all there of there contents.

In many ways there are similarities between Buddhism and Kant’s theories. One similarity is that both theories have end states. For Buddhism its nirvana, and for Kant it is the Kingdom of Ends. Another similarity is between Kant’s ethics, and Buddhism’s 8-fold path. The 8-fold path is the core of Buddhist ethics.

Buddhist ethics are based on of understanding, universal, compassion, equanimity, and openness while Kant’s ethics are also the laws of freedom, laws of human will as affected by nature, and they deal with everything that ought to happen but frequently do not happen. Another similarity is between the Buddhist idea of the conditioned reality that we are aware of and the unconditioned reality that we are not aware of which is similar to the difference among phenomena and things-in-themselves made by Kant. Another similarity is that both theories believe in enlightenment.

There are also many differences between these theories. One difference is for Kant happiness is desire while for Buddhists suffering is caused by desire because it can never be completely satisfied. Another difference is between their end states. For Buddhist their end state is nirvana, which is the release from suffering, while for Kant his end state is the Kingdom of Ends, which is a union of different rational beings in a system of common universal laws that are legislated by pure practical reason through a person’s good will. A major difference between the theories is that Kant feels that a person is restricted to the experience of phenomena. Buddhism believes that this existence is a kind of intuition by which a person can come to understand reality. This understanding of reality is the attainment of wisdom. This wisdom is a kind of awareness, which is called praj~naa. Another difference is regarding enlightenment. For Kant enlightenment is realization of our mental abilities, and for Buddhist enlightenment is the middle way, the attainment of nirvana.

Both theories make valid points I feel, and have good belief systems. Overall though I feel Buddhism has stronger proof, and is a better theory to follow. Buddhism is both a religion, and a way of living. In my opinion Buddhism is more ethical and realistic. Basically I feel Buddhism has stronger proof because it helps people understand the many aspects of suffering, whether it is personal or otherwise, and how to overcome that suffering. Buddhism is a religion that concentrates on transforming the evil, and negativity of man and community into good.


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