Buddhism: Morality Without Ethics?
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Buddhism: Morality Without Ethics? book
The aim of this chapter is to explore some of the innovations, adaptations, and problems which have arisen in connection with the development of a new academic discipline. The discipline I will be discussing is Buddhist ethics, and I will be suggesting that the appearance of this field of study is an innovation which has arisen as Buddhism encounters the West, an area about which Charles S.Prebish has written copiously and the study of which he has played an active part in promoting. I wish to problematize the encounter between Buddhism and the West by pointing out the apparent absence of a discipline of ethics in Buddhism as a religious tradition, in contrast to the high profile enjoyed by ethics in the West. Incidentally, by “Buddhism” here I have in mind no specific school or historical period, and my comments are made with respect to an amorphous fiction which for convenience might be termed “mainstream Buddhism.” The salient characteristic of this fiction for our present purposes is that it embodies the core elements of belief and practice jointly subscribed to by both non-Māhāyāna and Mahāyāna schools.