Evan Thompson has made a wonderfully detailed response to my earlier two posts that critique his stimulating Why I Am Not A Buddhist. It is a dialogue I am excited to continue. First a logistical note: I have a great deal to say in response, but I generally think that blog posts work better as relatively self-contained but relatively short pieces, so I’m going to space out my own long reply over eight posts. (All this is perhaps in keeping with Simon Critchley’s claim that the philosopher is one who takes time.) In order to stop the discussion from dragging on for too long, I will post these posts at a much more frequent interval than I usually do – three times a week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
To begin, I thank Thompson for his careful and thoughtful response. Its title – “Clarifying Why I Am Not A Buddhist” – is extremely apt. It shows me that there are points where I misunderstood the book’s claims, and I think the clarifications in his response make for a more fruitful debate. Above all: the book frames its critique of “neural Buddhism” in ways that did not seem to me to apply to the eudaimonic Buddhism that I hold. (Mike Slott of the Secular Buddhist Network appears to have got the same initial impression I did.) Thompson’s response makes it much clearer that he does indeed intend his critique to apply to me, and to fellow eudaimonist Buddhists like Dale Wright, Seth Segall, Ken McLeod, and possibly Slott. As a result, I think we are now much better able to dive into the real issues at hand, which I take to be crucial ones for my own philosophical project.Continue reading