Buddhist functionalism—instrumentality reaffirmed

Asian Philosophy 5 (2):127 – 149 (1995)
Abstract
Abstract This article seeks to determine if Buddhism can best be understood as primarily a functionalist tradition. In pursuing this, some analogies arise with various Western strands?particularly James? ?pragmatism?, Dewey's ?instrumentalism?, Braithwaite's ?empiricism?, Wittgenstein's ?language games?, and process thinkers like Hartshorne and Jacobson. Within the Buddhist setting, the traditional Therav?da framework of sila (ethics/precepts), sam?dhi (meditation) and pañña (wisdom) are examined, together with Therav?da rituals. Despite some ?correspondence? approaches with regard to truth claim statements, e.g. vipassan? ?insight? and Abhidharma analysis, a more profound functionalism seems present. This is even more clear with the Mah?y?na. Apart from the basic and explicit Mah?y?na underpinning of up?ya, the M?dhyamika, Tantras and Ch'an (Zen) schools are clearly functionalist. Moreover, despite initially seeming more ?absolutist? in their positions, other strands like the Pure Land and Nichiren faith traditions, and Dharmakirti's Vijñ?nav?da epistemology can also be tied into this functionalist setting
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