A Philosophical Approach
  • Publication Date: December 13, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781551118536 / 155111853X
  • 328 pages; 6" x 9"

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A Philosophical Approach

  • Publication Date: December 13, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781551118536 / 155111853X
  • 328 pages; 6" x 9"

This book philosophically introduces the basic truths, doctrines, and principles of Buddhism. Its goal is to explain the teachings of the Buddha and of Buddhism clearly and consistently. Though the book treads beyond the Buddha’s life, including into the Abhidharma and Mahayana traditions, it remains throughout a philosophical discussion and elaboration of the Buddha’s thought. It is meant to be an accessible guide for those who have no background in Buddhism, and to be beneficial to the philosophical understanding of those who do.


“Readers looking for a clear, concise, and accessible introduction to the basic tenets of Buddhism will find Panjvani’s book ideally suited to their needs. The book covers such quintessentially Buddhist notions as the Four Noble Truths, the No-Self view of personal identity, and the causal principle of Dependent Arising. One of the book’s main strengths is its systematic and meticulous use of examples drawn from both canonical and contemporary sources to illustrate the pragmatic aspects of Buddhist teachings. With just the right blend of doctrinal exposition and philosophical analysis, Buddhism: A Philosophical Approach offers general audiences a useful resource for engaging Buddhist ideas in a critical and effective way.” — Christian Coseru, College of Charleston

Buddhism: A Philosophical Approach is an excellent introduction to Buddhist philosophy. It includes a very lucid presentation not only of basic Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, but also of such challenging concepts as emptiness and dependent origination. The work focuses on a general overview of fundamental issues, but also explores in some depth the complexities involved in crucial questions such as the nature of desire and the critique of self-identity. I highly recommend this work for introductory courses in Buddhist and Asian philosophy.” — John P. Clark, Loyola University New Orleans


I Indian Contexts

  • General Themes of the Indian Philosophical Tradition
    A Short Account of the Vedas and Upanishads
    The Philosophy of the Upanishads
    The Identity of Brahman and Atman

II The Legend and Life of the Buddha

  • Introduction
    The Early Life
    The Four Signs

III Reading the Middle Way

  • Steering the Middle Course
    A Symbolic Reading
    Concluding Remarks

IV The First Noble Truth: Three Understandings of Suffering

  • Introduction
    Pervasiveness and Eliminability
    The First Understanding
    The Second Understanding
    The Third Understanding
    The Five Aggregates
    The Buddha and David Hume
    Concluding Remarks

V The Second Noble Truth: An Analysis of Craving

  • Introduction
    Craving and Permanence
    Craving and Wanting — A Difference in Kind
    The Character of Craving — Qualitative Observations
    The Character of Craving — Formal Observations
    Criticism of Bahm
    Self and Suffering

VI The Third Noble Truth: Nirvana, the Cessation of Suffering

  • Introduction
    Understanding and Describing Nirvana

VII The Fourth Noble Truth: Walking the Noble Eightfold Path

  • Introduction
    The Noble Eightfold Path
    More on Mindfulness

VIII The Doctrine of No Self

  • Introduction
    The Argument from the Aggregates
    A Lute, a Chariot and the Composite Self
    The Argument from Lack of Control

IX The Doctrine of Impermanence

  • Introduction
    Arising and Passing
    Other Views of Change
    Numerical Identity and Qualitative Identity
    Annihilationism and Eternalism
    Concluding Remarks

X The Doctrine of Dependent Origination

  • Introduction
    The First Model: Physical Causation
    The Second Model: Mental Causation without Universal Causation
    The Third Model: Mental Causation with Universal Causation
    The Importance of Universal Causation
    Dependent Origination and Causal Continuity

XI Karma and Rebirth: Continuity, Not Identity

  • Introduction
    Karma and Morality
    Karma and Rebirth
    Continuity of Self over Time, Not Identity

XII The Concept of Dharmas in the Abhidharma

  • The Abhidharma, the Dharma, and Dharmas
    Dharmas and Atoms
    Dharmas as Ultimate Reality
    Dharmas and Mindfulness
    What Is the Duration of a Dharma?

XIII The Concept of Emptiness in Mahayana Buddhism

  • Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism
    The Perfection of Wisdom and Emptiness
    Emptiness and Dependent Origination
    Emptiness and Non-Duality
    Emptiness and Enlightenment

XIV Compassion and Skillfulness in Mahayana Buddhism

  • Introduction
    The Bodhisattva
    The Bodhisattva Renounces
    Compassion and Suffering
    Genuine Compassion
    Skillful Means, the Arhat and the Bodhisattva
    An Emphasis on Practice over Belief

XV The Parable of the Burning House — A Closing Discussion

Glossary of Select Sanskrit, Pali and Philosophical


Cyrus Panjvani is Associate Professor of Philosophy at MacEwan University.

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