Buddhism and Scepticism: Historical, Philosophical and Comparative Perspectives

From their earliest stages, Buddhist traditions have displayed a sceptical attitude towards various types of accepted knowledge. Buddhist thinkers, beginning from the historical Buddha, questioned metaphysical assumptions, the realistic view of the world, and the reliability of our sources of knowledge, and expressed doubt about common social norms and religious views. In this way, philosophical scepticism played a pivotal role in the way Buddhist thought evolved. It served both as a method for arriving at a reliable and liberating understanding of reality and, as some argue, as an aspect of spiritual practice.

The conference on Buddhism and Scepticism investigates the place of scepticism in the development of classical Buddhist thought from historical and philosophical perspectives. From a historical standpoint, the conference explores the development of sceptical strategies in Buddhism and their relation to non-Buddhist systems of thought in Europe and Asia. From a philosophical point of view, it explores the ways in which sceptical arguments are used in
Buddhist philosophical works, and how they resemble, and differ from, sceptical methods in other, non-Buddhist philosophies.

Convenor: Oren Hanner (Universität Hamburg/Germany)