Analysis Of The Buddha Meets Socrates

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The third chapter of The Buddha Meets Socrates asks, “Is science a distraction?” To answer this question, the text addresses three major underlying questions: what is science, what is the purpose of science, and can science lead us to truth? The chapter incorporates several Western views, comparing and contrasting them with the Buddhist view elucidated by the Karmapa. The first question as to the identity of science is developed through a traditional Western view, invoking the minds of Socrates, Descartes, and Kant. To what end science proceeds is then questioned with respect to Nietzsche with reference to Socrates, and is compared with the views of the Karma. Lastly, regarding the pursuit of truth, the eastern and western thoughts clearly…show more content…
Rather than depicting science as a method by which to discover truth, Nietzsche asks whether it is rather a last resort against truth. From a standard Western perspective, this is initially counterintuitive, because it seems to violate the purpose of the scientific method from the outset. We traditionally view the scientific method as a system by which to test hypotheses against empirical evidence to ascertain their legitimacy and see if they hold up. However, the cleverness of Nietzsche’s reversal is shown to lie in the perspective on truth and disciplined inquiry. The idea comes initially from Socrates, who posited that he was ignorant of the truth and dared anyone to prove him wrong. Nietzsche, however, took a more morbid view of such ignorance, utilizing it to frame science as a tool for distraction from the darkness of reality. Thus science can be seen as either a process which brings us closer to understanding and truth, or one which leads us further from…show more content…
This appears to oppose the position of the Buddha revealed in “Buddhism & Peace” and in the Dhammapada, where he supports the pursuit and verification of rational faith through personal experience. From Buddhism & Peace we learn that the Buddha said a statement is meaningful, “if it is in principle verifiable in the light of experience, sensory or extra-sensory.” It seems that asking meaningful questions is by definition a distraction, and we can see that such an endeavor is by its nature scientific! While the chapter provides no conclusion for this paradox, it does include a question which may provide some resolution. How is science possible? When we see parallel tracks heading off into the distance, we observe their convergence but understand they do not actually converge. Kant questions how our perception is produced, reliant on the unity of our intuition, which allows us to construct the illusions to which we so readily

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