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Theravāda Buddhist philosophy

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZB012-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2023
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

The Theravāda Buddhist tradition understands itself as preserving the teachings of the historical Buddha. All of these teachings are said to fit within the four noble truths: the pervasive unease that is referred to as dukkha, the cause of this dukkha, its cessation, and the path leading to this cessation. This path begins with cultivating right view, and for many Theravādin teachers, a foundational aspect of right view is seeing that ultimately there is no self. Interestingly, in the early discourses preserved by the Theravāda as the Buddha’s own teachings, he suggests that both the view that there is no self and the view that there is a self are equally misguided; the reason he gives for seeing all phenomena as non-self (anattā) is that they do not follow our wishes. While there are multiple contrary views of how to interpret such doctrines, Theravādin philosophical texts also contain resources for holding the diversity of possible interpretations in an inclusive way.

Citing this article:
Davis, Jake H.. Theravāda Buddhist philosophy, 2023, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZB012-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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