Buddhism and Kant Term Paper

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Buddhism and Kant

The Philosophies of Buddhism and Immanuel Kant:

An Examination and Comparison of Similar Beliefs

Major world religions and the philosophies that accompany them are quite numerous. With the help of the internet, anyone can research and find what certain philosophies state and how various religions correlate to one's own beliefs. In this way, he or she can adopt new beliefs, or strengthen existing ones. The study of philosophy, from Plato to Kierkegaard, from Buddha to Mao and from the temples of tribes in Africa, is a very complex and interesting field. In this paper, I will examine two philosophies: Buddhism and Kantianism. These philosophies are important, for both the aims that they promote and for their close links and similarities that are adopted by hundreds of thousands, and I will attempt to prove them both as important and similar in the central argument of this paper.

Buddhism: Background

Buddhism is one of the most widely practiced world religions, with a complex history and a similarly complex philosophy. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, lived before the Common Era and was the son of an Indian king. It is said that this man led an extravagant life, as he was of a high caste. However, he grew bored of his royal extravagance and decided to find meaning in his life. He thus ventured out into the world, to find peace and understanding. Eventually Gautama disrobed himself of his previous existence and became a monk, in an attempt to understand spirituality and not just the world around him. As a monk, Gautama finally found the answers for which he was looking and spend the rest of his life preaching to those who would listen, the four noble truths. He also became known as Buddha, or the Enlightened One.

These four truths, as they are called, are the essence of Buddhism and what it teaches. This philosophy recognizes that all our earthly paths lead to suffering, but that this suffering has a purpose, and has an end. In order to deal with suffering, one must accept the truths of life (aging, sickness and death), and make a sort of plan, composed of the four truths, to deal with suffering.

The first truth identifies suffering. The second truth, determines its causes (desire and ignorance). In the third truth, the end of suffering is confirmed (and with it, death as a certainty). And finally, after achieving a transition from earth to spirit, or Nirvana, one can enter the fourth truth, which signifies the steps to end suffering. These steps, which comprise eight guiding principles, include right understanding, right thought, right action, right speech, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. [1: Though this paper states not to utilize sources, I was not provided with any documents (from the customer). I, therefore, document my sources here: Basics of Buddhism .]

These central concepts of Buddhism are very important, for they answer many questions; however, they also leave many questions unanswered. One such fact is that Buddhism does not argue for a certain belief, such as other religions do, but rather it provides a guiding path towards a certain goal. Thus, it is very hard to see if these concepts are actually followed in specific individuals, for many people may choose their own path to satisfy these beliefs. Furthermore, Buddhist studies also argue as to what extent one should take these beliefs, and often scholars still debate interpretations. This is due to the fact that the philosophy is old, and does not leave written records from its incipience for us. Furthermore, as most religions, the central concept of Buddhism is myth, and it is impossible to verify. And lastly, someone could question the validity of these central concepts, and there is no evidence to affirm the complete validity; however, one must not that they do provide exceptionally good guidance for an individual to be a righteous person.

Kantianism: Background

This next part will examine some similarities between Kantianism and Buddhism, and will determine how closely related and complementary these philosophies are. Immanuel Kant, the founder of this philosophy, was a great thinker. His most original contribution to philosophy believes that the mind is an originator of experience. Kant also contributed to the field of politics, and psychology. But this paper in concerned with…

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