In my previous post I discussed how Evan Thompson and I may agree in principle that not all innovations to a tradition are legitimate. The real question, then, is how applicable the accusation of cherry-picking (or shopping cart) is in this case, the case that we are discussing, of the naturalized eudaimonistic approach to karma. So the question is whether this new approach is congruous with Buddhist tradition, or with Buddhist sources.
If I am correct that it is, then it would seem that Thompson’s accusation of cherry-picking does not stand. I contend that the traditional view of karma generally follows the view of Śāntideva that good and bad actions bring the agent good and bad results “in this world and another” (iha paratra ca). On that traditional view this pattern is deterministic: every good action ripens as a good result and vice versa. What my approach does is to say that karmic results happen only iha, in this world, because it turns out there is no paratra. As a result karma must be probabilistic and not deterministic in order to make sense. On my view, this naturalized approach to karma entirely continuous with the iha half of the traditional view, even as it rejects the paratra half – and this does not radically change the system because both halves work in similar ways.
I will say more about Śāntideva in future posts. But before going further, I think we need to clarify some key concepts at issue in Thompson’s most recent response. Thompson relies a great deal in this response on the concept of eschatology, so it is important to clarify what that concept means. Regarding the concept of karma, Thompson says:Continue reading