[Buddha-l] Abdhidharma vindicated once again

Jamie Hubbard jhubbard at smith.edu
Mon Mar 7 18:58:38 MST 2011

On 3/8/2011 3:02 AM, JKirkpatrick wrote:
> As for the assertion "something like any property that is
> considered important to a religious community will be attributed
> maximally to those the tradition considers maximally great."
> That strikes me as a  pretty circular statement. (But then
> circularity is familiar in religious thought.)
> It doesn't explain maximal greatness, whereas my sociological
> surmise CAN explain it, although it's unknown if it DOES explain
> it.
Actually (and again I don't have the work handy), I believe that Paul's 
point about the drive to assert maximal greatness *is* a sort of 
sociological idea (which is why your point reminded me of it), in that 
it is what communities do with regard both individuals they consider 
great and propositions and/or attributes that they consider "great 
making." It is a community thing, albeit a "doctrine-making community" 

As Dan points out, he thinks (and well demonstrates, IMHO) that this 
leads to philosophical problems of a maximal nature. While many have 
thought that his critiques of the Buddhist tradition stem from his 
Christian background (before converting to Catholicism he was High 
Church Anglican), Griffiths thinks that the same problems are found in 
Christian theology due to the same impulse to assert maximal greatness.

If you decide to get into _On Being Buddha_, I recommend reading it 
together w/ John Makransky's _Buddhahood Embodied_. They both come to 
pretty similar conclusions about what a Buddha is (in the developed 
Mahayana tradition), but John, coming from a Tibetan Dzogchen point of 
view, has a rather different take on what it all means.


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