Buddhist Non-Cognitivism

Asian Philosophy 24 (3):227-241 (2014)
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Abstract

The purpose of this essay is twofold. First, I plan to argue that in light of Buddhist epistemology and metaphysics, it would be an inherent contradiction to the Buddhist tradition as whole to defend the cognitivist view that moral knowledge is possible. Quite the contrary, this essay will demonstrate that, in light of Buddhist theories of knowledge and metaphysical philosophies of no-self and emptiness, Buddhist ethics only makes coherent sense from a standpoint of non-cognitivism. Second, from the arguments that support a non-cognitivist reading of Buddhist ethics, I plan to show that such a standpoint does not entail moral nihilism. Rather, what we find in Buddhism is a middle-way ethic of pluralism. Herein I shall argue that the moral life of Buddhism non-cognitively arises within skandha of feelings, yet is conditioned by the cognitive nature of Buddhist wisdom

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Joseph Markowski
Castleton State College

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