Chapter 8 Mahayana Buddhism and Deweyan Philosophy

In: John Dewey and Chinese Education
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My paper examines some of the many similarities between Mahayana Buddhism and Deweyan philosophy. It builds upon two previously published works. The first is my dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda President of Soka Gakkai International, a UN registered NGO currently active in one hundred ninety-two countries and territories, and the Director Emeritus of the Center for Dewey Studies, Larry Hickman (see ). My paper will first briefly review some of the many similarities between Buddhism and Deweyan pragmatism. Second, I will also briefly review additional similarities in the published version of my Kneller Lecture to the American Educational Studies Association (see ). In the present paper, I will introduce some new similarities of interest to educators. Among these are Dewey’s surprisingly Buddhist notions of language and logic as merely useful conventions. Secondly, I examine Dewey’s argument that “causation as ordered sequence is a logical category,” not an ontological category (LW 12: 453). The similarity to the opening chapter of Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka, or Middle Way, is striking. I will suggest a logical reading has some interesting implications for student-teacher relations.

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