[Buddha-l] Re: Current state of study of early Buddhist schools?

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Fri Dec 16 12:57:57 MST 2005

On Fri, 2005-12-16 at 12:57 -0600, F.K. Lehman (F.K.L. Chit Hlaing)

> Responding to Richard Hayes, here, regarding the study of Buddhist 
> Schools: there's one addition, and, in this case, meaningful problem, 
> namely, that we've managed, finally to realise that there is an 
> intractable difficulty in trying to associate particular ideas with 
> particular schools. 

Right. If one is trying to write a social or institutional history of
Buddhism, the textual evidence is inadequate. Some of us, however, are
interested in doctrinal history and take an interest in ideas without
much regard to those who held them. (Ideas are so clean. Human beings
are so unhygienic!)

> The thing is that we now understand (or I hope we do) that the schools
> and their 'members' interacted all the time and ideas generally were
> part of a sort intellectual of common soup that all the schools tended
> to drink from.

Right. About the same thing is the case at a modern university.
Philosophers, for example, talk to linguists, historians, mathematicians
and even anthropologists. That notwithstanding, there are certain
disciplinary boundaries in place, however permeable they may be. I think
the same was true in most Buddhist settings. Still, it may be worth
reminding everyone that it has been at least a century since anyone
thought that Buddhist schools of abhidharma were anything like the
denominations within Christianity.

I'd say more, but I'm saving my energy for my investigations into on
some of the differences between Presbyterian, Baptist and Unitarian
abhidharma early 19th century ante-bellicose USAmerica (just before the
United States became disunited for a spell).

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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