Abstract: This article examines the canonical texts of early Buddhism and canvasses recent scholarly literature to explore whether early Buddhism contains a political theory, and if so, what it is. The article concludes that the early texts do express a normative preference for enlightened monarchy as the best form of lay government. However, it also concludes that early Buddhism saw politics as being relatively unimportant among human concerns. Further, it argues that this theory of politics should be of interest to political theorists today due to three unusual elements: its deflationary estimate of the importance of politics, its denial of the existence of the self, and its naturalistic theory of ethics.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 2, 2015
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