This book is a survey of practical moral issues applying the Middle Way (as developed in 'A Theory of Moral Objectivity') as the basis of 'Buddhist' Ethics. No appeal is made to Buddhist traditions or scriptures, but instead the Middle Way is applied consistently as a universal philosophical and practical principle to suggest the direction of resolutions to moral debates. Practical ethics topics covered include sexual ethics, medical ethics, environmental ethics, animals, violence, the arts, scientific issues and political ethics.
An inter-disciplinary philosophical treatise (written as an accredited Ph.D. thesis) that attempts to establish a new approach to moral objectivity. Inspired by the Buddha's Middle Way, but arguing from first premises, it challenges widespread and interlinked assumptions in both analytic and continental philosophy, whilst drawing on both these traditions together with psychological, religious and historical evidence. The first section of the book provides a detailed critique of existing approaches to ethics in the Western tradition. The second half then puts forward (...) positive and practical alternatives, and solutions to long-standing philosophical problems. (shrink)
This book puts forward a theory of absolutization, bringing together a multi-disciplinary understanding of this central flaw in human judgement, and what we can do about it. This approach, drawing on Buddhist thought and practice, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, embodied meaning and systems theory, offers a rigorous introduction to absolutization as the central problem addressed in Middle Way Philosophy, which is a synthetic approach developed by the author over more than twenty years in a series of books. It challenges disciplinary boundaries (...) as well as offering a substantial framework for practical application. (shrink)
The first of a series of 4 volumes on Middle Way Philosophy. Middle Way Philosophy was originally inspired by the Middle Way of the Buddha but is developed in an entirely Western context. It addresses the questions of objectivity, justification, facts and values, and the relationship of philosophy and psychology. It develops the concept of experiential adequacy to provide a non-metaphysical resolution of the dichotomy between absolutism and relativism in both facts and values.
An argument that there is a common pattern in conflict between desires and the dialectical integration of those conflicts, at both individual and socio-political levels. Philosophical, psychological, poltical and Buddhist approaches to integration are brought together here to show how the integration of desire contributes to moral objectivity.
This third volume of the Middle Way Philosophy series applies the revolutionary view, taken from cognitive science, that meaning is found in our bodies rather than in a relationship between language and reality. Cognitive and emotive meaning cannot be separated. This approach reveals the basic error of the metaphysical views that depend on absolute cognitive meaning. It also provides the basis for an account of how we can integrate meaning. Each new time we connect an experience to a symbol we (...) extend meaning in a way that gives us more resources to develop more adequate beliefs. The practice of integrating meaning can be promoted by the arts, meditation and focusing, and can also involve working to resolve archetypes. (shrink)
This fourth volume of the Middle Way Philosophy series uses cognitive psychology and balanced sceptical philosophy to explain both how we get stuck in dogmas, and how provisionality is possible. It is argued that we can make progress both in avoiding delusions and developing wisdom not by finding ‘truth’ or employing ‘rationality’, but rather through awareness of our assumptions. We need not ultimately true beliefs (as is often assumed), but judgements that are more adequate to each new set of conditions. (...) The book includes a wide survey of the cognitive biases identified by psychology, with an argument that the practically important aspect of each is an absolutising assumption that we could potentially avoid through awareness. (shrink)
Jung’s Red Book, finally published only in 2009, is a highly ambiguous text describing a succession of extraordinary visions, together with Jung’s interpretation of them. This book offers a new interpretation of Jung’s Red Book, in terms of the Middle Way, as a universal principle and embodied ethic, paralleled both in the Buddha’s teachings and elsewhere. Jung explicitly discusses the Middle Way in the Red Book (although this has been largely ignored by scholars so far) as well as offering lots (...) of material that can be understood in its terms. This book interprets the Red Book in relation to the archetypes met in its visions – the hero, the feminine, the Shadow, God and Christ, and follows Jung’s process of integrating these different internal figures. To do this Jung needs to find the Middle Way between absolutes at every point, in a way similar to the Buddha. (shrink)
The Middle Way was first taught explicitly by the Buddha. It is the first teaching offered by the Buddha in his first address, and the basis of his practical method in meditation, ethics, and wisdom. It is often mentioned in connection with Buddhist teachings, yet the full case for its importance has not yet been made. This book aims to make that case. -/- The Middle Way can be understood from the Buddha's life and metaphors as well as his teachings, (...) and it is these that are used to provide an accessible way into it. In the traditional story, he moved from Palace to Forest, finally realising that neither offered the whole story. The acceptance of rice-porridge marks the moment of recognition. The Middle Way can also be found in the Buddha's practice throughout the rest of his life: his teaching, his politics, even his death. Well-known similes such as the raft, the lute-strings, the arrow, and the blind people with the elephant also offer a profound source of the Middle Way. They are not just allegories of Buddhist teachings, but relate closely to universal judgement in human experience. -/- This book emphasises a positive case, but also has a critical one. Although it has transmitted the Middle Way, the Buddhist tradition has also often ignored or distorted it. The Middle Way is experiential, authentic and creative, and thus threatening to the power of a tradition that has instead emphasised the Buddha's authority as a source of revelation. That authority is allegedly based on the Buddha's enlightenment, which is often interpreted as abstract, discontinuous and absolute. Too many other Buddhist teachings are routinely interpreted in these absolute terms, when they would be much more helpful and universal interpreted in the terms of the Middle Way. -/- Although it engages fully with Buddhist material, this book shows the Middle Way to be a principle of experiential judgement based on awareness that goes far beyond Buddhism. Because it's about how humans judge things, it's universal, not a Buddhist monopoly. In its final section it offers ten alternative non-Buddhist sources for the Middle Way, many of them recent. (shrink)
The Middle Way is the practical principle of avoiding both positive and negative absolutes, so as to develop provisional beliefs accessible to experience. Although inspired initially by the Buddha’s Middle Way, in Middle Way Philosophy Robert M Ellis has developed it as a critical universalism: a way of separating the helpful from the unhelpful elements of any tradition. In this book, the Middle Way is applied to the Christian tradition in order to argue for a meaningful and positive interpretation of (...) it, without the absolute beliefs that many assume to be essential to Christianity. Faith as an embodied, provisional confidence is distinguished from dogmatic belief. Recent developments in embodied meaning, brain lateralization from neuroscience, Jungian archetypes and the Jungian model of psychological integration are drawn on to support an account of how Christian faith is not only possible without ‘belief’ in God or Christ, but indeed puts us in a better position to access inspiration, moral purpose, responsibility and the basis of peace. (shrink)
This second book in the 'Middle Way Philosophy' series develops five general principles that are distinctive to the universal Middle Way as a practical response to absolutization. These begin with the consistent acknowledgement of human uncertainty (scepticism), and follow through with openness to alternative possibilities (provisionality), the importance of judging things as a matter of degree (incrementality), the clear rejection of polarised absolute claims (agnosticism) and the cultivation of cognitive and emotional states that will help us resolve conflict (integration).
This book is a briefer and updated account of the Middle Way Philosophy developed in 'A Theory of Moral Objectivity'. Its starting point is the argument that we are not justified in making any claims about truth, whether moral or scientific, but the idea of truth is still meaningful. Instead of making or denying metaphysical claims about truth, we need to think in terms of incrementally objective justification within experience. This standpoint is related to an account of objectivity as psychological (...) integration, and applied to questions of resposibility, ethics, science, religion and politics. (shrink)
Sangharakshita (1925-2018) was a Buddhist writer and teacher, founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and Community (previously FWBO). He died very recently (30th Oct 2018). Apart from his practical achievements, Sangharakshita was an original thinker on the adaptation of Buddhism to modern conditions, an autodidact whose intellectual creativity was stimulated by both cross-cultural experience and practical contingency. His thinking is little known or appreciated outside the movement he founded, but over-dominant within it. This means that there is a shortage of (...) balanced critical discussion of his work that finds any middle way between hagiography and dismissal. Sangharakshita has also been an object of controversy in recent years, but his more controversial views and actions need to be seen in proportion to the whole of his thinking. This book surveys Sangharakshita’s most important and original ideas with an eye that combines appreciation and critical awareness in equal measure. It celebrates Sangharakshita’s pioneering syntheses of Buddhist and Western ideas, but warns against the inconsistencies and dogmas that are also found in Sangharakshita’s work – dogmas whose negative practical effects can also be traced. (shrink)
This book is a philosophical critique of the Buddhist tradition (not a scholarly work about the Buddhist tradition), applying the standards of judgement developed in 'A Theory of Moral Objectivity'. It is argued that although the Buddhist tradition provides access to the insights of the Middle Way, many other aspects of Buddhist tradition are inconsistent with this central insight. The sources of justified belief in Buddhism, karma, conditionality, concepts of reality, monasticism and Buddhist ethics are all subjected to the same (...) critique. (shrink)