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1 Just Here Is the End of Suffering: Letting Suffering Be in Early Buddhism

Brook A. Ziporyn Indiana University Press ePub



Letting Suffering Be in Early Buddhism


Buddhism begins and ends with the problem of suffering. More specifically, Buddhism begins with the Four Noble Truths. At first glance, the treatment of suffering in this teaching seems disappointingly simple, almost simplistic. The First Noble Truth tells us that all experiences necessarily involve suffering. The Second tells us why this is: suffering is caused by desire, or craving, and attachment to desire. The Third asserts that the end of this cause (desire), and hence of this effect (suffering), is attainable. The Fourth tells us how to go about attaining this end of desire and suffering.

Often this formula is understood in a very straightforward way: we suffer when things don’t go the way we want them to. Suffering happens when we desire what is not the case. Usually when this happens, we try to make “what is the case” conform to our desire: we try to get what we want. In this interpretation the Buddha makes the surprise move of approaching the dissonance between desire and reality from the opposite side: instead of changing the reality, change your desire.

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Six Against the Philosophy of Limits: Installing a Culture of Hope

Táíwò, Olúfémi Indiana University Press ePub

A culture of hope is tied to a horizon of time, an ontology of time in which the future is dominant, the past and the present are mere way stations on the path to a future that always promises more and better for both the self and the many groups and contexts in which this self unfolds and operates to realise its goals.

IN THIS chapter, I propose to explore the last tenet of modernity that is of moment in this discussion: the open future. We started out with the idea of individualism. We showed that the individual is the core piece of the modern age. Almost everything is geared towards ensuring the flourishing of the individual. It is not that the group does not matter; it is that the relationship between the individual and the group does not privilege the group and is expected to be contingent, a product of negotiation. This is the only way that the idea of governance by consent has meaning and relevance. Beyond that, we saw that the individual was not tethered to the circumstances of her birth, that is, to the social station of the family into which she was born. On the contrary, whatever situation she was born into, the promise of the modern age is that this individual is called upon or made to realise and routinely reminded that her life is hers to make, her biography is not a closed book the chapters of which could pretty much be read out of her family background. Rather her life is always ahead of her; it is for her to make of it what she will. In other words, she is not captive to her past and, as long as she is willing to strive, the future is hers to shape, design, and realise. She could be whatever she wants, limited only by her talents and how hard she is willing to work for her future. This is what the idea of the open future stands for.

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Chapter 3

Tony Grey John Libbey Publishing ePub

While the bridge crawls across the Euphrates, Marcus and Gaius Fulvius Aquila take a stroll to Zeugma. Never taken by education – uninterested in books, Gaius only ever wanted to join the army. He accepts that high rank is beyond him, content with being an ordinary centurion, practical and reliable. In the earthy twang of his youth, he often teases Marcus about his aspirations, especially the improved accent.

The two are life-long friends, unfazed by differences. Underneath, their values are the same, a moral linkage which allows each to admire the other’s qualities. Gaius is stronger, Marcus quicker. The big man has more of an earthy attitude to life, uncomplicated by the disappointments attending ambition. He’s a natural Stoic; Marcus works at it.

In a few minutes, another centurion in their cohort catches up with them, slightly out of breathe. Marcus says,

“Ave Quintus. You want to come with us for a drink?”

“Sure. I thought we were all going together.”

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Chapter Nine. The Basic Problem and Method of Klein’s Mathematical Investigations

Burt C. Hopkins Indiana University Press ePub

In Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra, Klein situates his historical investigation of mathematics in terms of the “fact that it is impossible, and has always been impossible, to grasp the meaning of what we nowadays call physics independently of its mathematical form” (GMTOA, 19/4). He maintains that this is the case because, “[a]fter three centuries of intensive development, it has finally become impossible to separate the content of mathematical physics from its form” (18/3). This state of affairs is the result of the “intimate connection of the formal mathematical language with the content of mathematical physics,” a connection that stems from “the special kind of conceptualization which is a concomitant of modern science and which was of fundamental importance in its formation” (19/4). Klein argues that because of this connection, any discussion of the problems faced by contemporary mathematical physics must have as its necessary propaedeutic “the limited task of recovering to some degree the sources, today almost completely hidden from view, of our modern symbolic mathematics.” Thus, his study completely bypasses “the fundamental question concerning the inner relations between mathematics and physics, of ‘theory’ and ‘experiment,’ of ‘systematic’ and ‘empirical’ procedure within mathematical physics”—though, “[h]owever far afield it may run, its formulation will throughout be determined by this as its ultimate theme.”

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13. The Power of Interpretation: Controversies on the Book of Daniel

Marius Timmann Mjaaland Indiana University Press ePub

A new debate on political theology has emerged since the turn of the millennium, due to a general shift in the understanding of the relationship between religion and secularity in modern societies. After José Casanova’s Public Religions in the Modern World (1994) and Habermas’s speech on faith and knowledge (2001), where he coined the term “post-secular society,” there have been a number of controversies on the issue, including debates on this specific term.1 Hans Joas has pointed out that the term is misguiding, since there has never been such a thing as a secular society, not even in the modern West. Religion has been there all the time, he argues, in various forms, but its constitutive significance even for modern societies has often been neglected by sociologists, political scientists, philosophers, and scholars of religious studies.2

A more differentiated understanding of the secularization process has slowly emerged through major contributions from philosophers Charles Taylor and Giorgio Agamben, sociologist Hans Joas, anthropologist Talal Asad, and a number of others.3 None of these scholars would question that secularization has taken place and still continues as a process of differentiation, but the critical role of religion in understanding global politics and modern societies has been rediscovered and has raised a number of significant controversies across the disciplines. With new genealogies of the secular—indeed, of various secularities—the genealogies of religion are also reconsidered, and we have observed a surprising revival of political theology as a field of interdisciplinary discourse on politics, sociology, philosophy, history, and theology.4 Hence, even traditional controversies like the one between Luther, his Catholic opponents in Rome, and charismatic preachers such as the revolutionary leader Thomas Müntzer receive new interest, although they were writing in a period when the relationship between religion and politics was very different from today. Mark Lilla claims that we now have reached “the other shore” and thus are incapable of understanding, or even imagining, the tremendous problems that used to occupy political theology. He argues that political philosophy has established a totally different theoretical and practical basis for both politics and religion, and that the problems still occupying less modernized and secularized societies (on the “other bank”) puzzle us because we have only a distant memory of what it was like to think as they do.5

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