HOW IS THE STUDY OF BUDDHISM POSSIBLE? ROGER CORLESS In this essay I wish to address the general question "How is the (academic) study of religion possible?" by investigating the special problems which arise when we try to study Buddhism within the context of the modern western university.' I I instance Buddhism not only because I have special knowledge of it, but also because, positing as it does (explicitly in Mahayana, implicitly in Theravada) a therapeutic or pseudo-worldview which is intended to dispel all worldviews (whether Buddhist or not) I believe it provides us with a way out of our dilemma. WAS THE BUDDHA A BUDDHA? In our universities, we find Sakyamuni Buddha included in the textbooks of what are called the Great World Religions. He is granted a day in Auguste Comte's Positivist Calendar,2 and Hegel thought enough of Buddhism to give it a brief (albeit ambiguous and inaccurate) mention as he progressed towards "The Absolute Religion 28 (Christianity)" in his Etic),c,lol)w(lia of the Philnsnphical Sciences. ?5kyamuni Buddha, then, is, for the western academic establishment, a figure to be reckoned with. He is "the Buddha," and he founded "Buddhism," which is a "religion," or, perhaps, a "philosophy,"
Method & Theory in the Study of Religion – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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