From its inception, Buddhism has had a strong philosophical component. Buddhism is founded on the rejection of certain orthodox philosophical concepts, in which the Buddha had been instructed by various teachers. Buddhism rejects atheism, theism, monism, and dualism alike. The Buddha criticized all concepts of metaphysical being and non-being, and this critique is inextricable from the founding of Buddhism.
Particular points of Buddhist philosophizing have often been the subject of disputes between different schools of Buddhism. Metaphysical questions such as "Is there a god?" and "Does the soul (Atman) really exist?" have divided the Buddha's followers even during his own lifetime, and epistemological debates over the proper modes of evidence have always been lively in Buddhism.
Readers should note that theory for its own sake is not valued in Buddhism, but theory pursued in the interest of enlightenment for oneself or others is fully consistent with Buddhist values and ethics.
Buddhism as philosophy?
Some have asserted that Buddhism as a whole is a philosophy rather than a religion. Proponents of such a view may argue that (a) Buddhism is non-theistic (i.e., it has no special use for the existence or nonexistence of a god or gods) or atheistic and (b) religions necessarily involve some form of theism. Others might contest either part of such an argument. Other arguments for Buddhism "as" philosophy may claim that Buddhism does not have doctrines in the same sense as other religions; the Buddha himself taught that a person should accept a teaching only if one's own experience verifies it.
Arguments against Buddhism as a philosophy might call attention to the way Buddhism's pervasive inclusion of... [continues]
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