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Contemporary Buddhism

Incredible article on the connection between Hume and Buddhism.

This article shows pretty convincingly that Hume was directly influenced by buddhist thought, the consequences of this for the relation between western philosophy and Buddhism are great in my opinion. 

The Jesuits in the 1687 embassy, including Dolu, stayed in Siam for a year and spent a great deal of time with the talapoins—the European word for the Siamese Buddhist monks. Three of them even lived in the Buddhist monastery and followed its rules.
And I discovered something else. Hume had said that Pierre Bayle’s Historical and Critical Dictionary was an important influence on the Treatise—particularly the entry on Spinoza. So I looked up that entry in the dictionary, which is a brilliant, encyclopedic, 6 million–word mess of footnotes, footnotes to footnotes, references, and cross-references. One of the footnotes in the Spinoza entry was about “oriental philosophers” who, like Spinoza, denied the existence of God and argued for “emptiness.” And it cross-referenced another entry about the monks of Siam, as described by the Jesuit ambassadors. Hume must have been reading about Buddhism, and Dolu’s journey, in the very building where Dolu lived.

I’d learned that Hume could indeed have known about Buddhist philosophy. In fact, he had written the Treatise in one of the few places in Europe where that knowledge was available. Dolu himself had had firsthand experience of Siamese Buddhism, and had talked at some length with Desideri, who knew about Tibetan Buddhism. It’s even possible that the Jesuits at the Royal College had a copy of Desideri’s manuscript.

Im sorry if this is common knowledge and my enthousiasm is overstated. In my opinion this means that the attitude I encountered in MCTB that if you are to insist doing western philosophy, one should do it like Hume, is in fact still an attitude that western philosophy should not be bothered with at all! In my opinion this attitude might be the best for effective and pragmatic dharma practice (nothing takes priority over noting  would be the wordplay) but it is in some ways a thought terminating attitude that should be critized in light of this article among other things.

With love.

RE: Incredible article on the connection between Hume and Buddhism.
10/6/19 2:23 AM as a reply to Gijs.
Thanks for this. In a similar vein, can anyone point to any evidence of cultural tranmission between the order of Benedict (founded in 6th century Italy) and the Soto Zen church in Japan about 700 years later?

RE: Incredible article on the connection between Hume and Buddhism.
10/6/19 2:39 AM as a reply to Gijs.
Hi Gijs,

I have not heard that before, but am not surprised.  There are certainly parallels in thought. 

I studied western philosophy at Uni and Hume pretty much killed off rational enquiry for me, kicked in the dark night, and led me down this avenue!

Problems with induction/ causation, self is just the current contents of mind etc. Hard to argue against...I could never quite buy into Kant.


RE: Incredible article on the connection between Hume and Buddhism.
10/6/19 10:11 AM as a reply to Gijs.
I think your link was cut off as it gave me a 404.  I found the article here: