23 November 2011

Owen Flanagan on Studying the Ancients

In his new book, The Bodhisattva's Brain, Owen Flanagan 'naturalizes' Buddhism - i.e., sees what's left when you take out stuff like nirvana and karma - and finds that it is a wisdom tradition that could supplement Confucianism and Aristotelianism for the 21st century.

Talking about the book on berfrois, Flanagan adds this crisp statement that works for a lot of academic situations:
Some think that studying ancient wisdom traditions involves anachronism and ethnocentrism. One talks across too much time and one talks and thinks in a manner too biased by one’s own perspective for the inquiry and the reflection to be profitable. Plus, these are old dead people. I say, accept that such inquiry is anachronistic and ethnocentric and get over it. We live in the most exciting multicultural and cosmopolitan times, where people come from numerous different traditions. It is in paying respectful attention to where others are coming from that we can see more clearly how we see and do things, as well as the multifarious ways to do things differently.

Rest of interview at http://www.berfrois.com/2011/11/owen-flanagan-naturalistic-buddhism/.