0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
dreary and colorless,
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This review is from: Buddhism as Philosophy: An Introduction (Ashgate World Philosophies Series) (Paperback)
Author does an okay job of relating buddhism to philosophy but falls in to prior western traps of trying to put all of indian metaphysical philosophy into western analytic frameworks. while there is some merit to this, it should be done _sparringly_ so as to not disturb the meaning and nature of the original thought.
thus I would much rather recommend Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jun 2013 14:19:07 BDT
Here, the authors do a remarkable job of bringing a difficult and opaque subject to dazzling light. "Dreary and colorless"(sic), "an okay job" and "falls into western traps" are just way off the mark. For the former, it may merely be beyond the level of understanding you require or value. 'Buddhism as Philosophy' stylistically is significantly better written, more in depth and a more up-to-date guide to this topic than 'Buddhist Thought'. Whereas it does relate the range of Buddhist philosophies to ranges of Western philosophies, considerable and far-reaching effort throughout - almost as a key-note of the entire text - has been made to let the original ideas, as far as we can currently determine, speak for themselves when we scrape back some of the accumulated mire of Indian and later myth-making that a great many Buddhists today still mistake as truth.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2013 14:54:39 BDT
it's too easy to simply say that it's too high-level for the people who dislike it
i read buddhist logic but T.S. and although i did not understand it all, i didn't dislike it the way i dislike this volume. so let's get the quasi-insults out of the way:
*why* do you think it is better written than the *start* of buddhist thought?
if the book makes a herculean effort to peel off the layers of culture that surrounds the original ideas, the author is remarkably silent about it
at the start of the book, the author discusses antidepressants in relation to buddhist philosophy. the discussion dorsn't really lead anywhere. in my opinion, that discussion is emblematic of the book
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 20:21:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jun 2013 20:23:17 BDT
You made a number of derogatory remarks about this book - and your two sentence review is derogatory as a whole - such as your title "dreary and colorless"(sic) which you flatly assert and then leave entirely unsupported. You do not begin to support these accusation which fly in the face of the facts as well as, for example, a general opinion of Amazon.com reviewers. Here, the top three reviewers title it "5.0 out of 5 stars - A great achievement", "5.0 out of 5 stars - Takes on the toughest arguments of the greatest Buddhist thinkers", "5.0 out of 5 stars - outstanding" the latter goes on to say "It's not only one of the best introductions to the core of Buddhist thought, it's one of the smoothest reads in introductory analytic philosophy." which is also my opinion. In lieu of any foundation to your assertions it was suggested that it "may merely be beyond the level of understanding you require or value" - not YOUR level of understanding, but the level of understanding and complexity the book aims for and presents. You may have wished for a more academic treatise, you may have wanted something simpler or more colloquial in style, who knows, I can only guess that it missed the level you happen to prefer yet you would rather dismiss and damn it as dreary! To miscomprehend that as a "quasi-insult"(?) is only to begin to assume an unwarranted victim role and not begin to back up your assertions.
1. ?? Try: "stylistically is significantly better written, more in depth and a more up-to-date guide."
2. ?? Please, then you need to reread the actual book: the debunking of "mythic" information is throughout such as debunking the notion of Gotama as a royal prince, debunking common misinterpretations of dukkha, Etc., Etc.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 21:03:20 BDT
Are you the author? I bought the book and read it, I gave my opinion. Nowhere do I say that a one-paragraph review is an exhaustive academic treatment of the book. My review was written at a time where there were no other reviews of that book on Amazon.
Your criticism seems ill-founded when you say that my assessment of the book as mediocre flies in the face of the facts, with the facts being your opinion and some other reviewers on the American version of Amazon. If you read a lot of Amazon reviews, then you *must* know that five star reviews of a book on Amazon says very little. Almost every book I've seen on here has at least one five star review.
I do not rule out that someone may feel that this is a five-star book, but I doubt it. If it is a pop-intro to Buddhist studies that want, I would recommend the first part of Buddhist thought before this. If it is philosophical analysis they want, I enjoyed Buddhist Logic more.
As for Gautama not being a prince, well okay. I doubt that Siderits is the first to make this claim. In fact, it may even be that it's noted in Buddhist Thought that that part is simply a legend. But I don't remember off the bat.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 22:17:24 BDT
Your two sentence "review" merely states you wish to be derogatory about it along with seemingly any attempts to view Buddhism from more than one perspective (particularly modern Western views), without substantiating any of those assertions. Now it is shown you haven't properly read the book, i.e. compare your claim #2 [...]"the author is remarkably silent about it" which is flat false and can be ascertained by almost anyone's first ten minutes of reading 'Buddhism as Philosophy' to which the point about the supposed royalty of Gotama, as well as the common misconceptions dukkha, to begin with, demonstrates.
That you prefer other books is not of care or concern, nor is it that there are some other, all too few, useful works in this often difficult and misrepresented area, but it is the off-hand slurs, assertions and miscomprehensions made in relation to what is to others a very well written, notably up to date and informed and high-value work that bucks the poor-quality trend in English works. It isn't fair and it can mislead others even if it wasn't for you and your tastes.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 22:36:44 BDT
As you can see from the review, I read the book over a year ago and I have read many books since. To base your "inquiry" into my review on me not remembering every exact detail from the book is the height of sophistry. Your case deteriorates further when one of the "innovations" that you credit to the present author is hardly new as if quite possibly featued in the very work you compare unfavorably to his one (Williams & Tribe's).
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 23:03:08 BDT
It's the opposite of sophistry!
You make a very emphasised, numbered, false statement :
if the book makes a herculean effort to peel off the layers of culture that surrounds the original ideas, the author is remarkably silent about it"
And these are simply flat wrong as shown and can be discovered very simply by anyone. AGAIN, this point counters your claim that the author is silent about common Buddhist myths (misconceptions) not at all that they may or may not be innovations, which is irrelevant. Stating these kinds of false and derogatory things purely from a basis of miscomprehension is a disservice to any book and especially to such a rare and, potentially for others, useful work such as this.
Perhaps, when you get to reassess the work, you will redress this fairly, whether or not the book is right or wrong for you at this time.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 23:27:14 BDT
From my year-old impression, I do not remember it being a theme that the author consciously set out to scrape off Indian mythos from the philosophy itself. I saw that happening far more in Buddhist Logic and Buddhist Thought.
One of the things you name is that Gautama was not a prince. Well I had read that in many other places besides Siderits. I do not consider it a "herculean effort" to repeat something that is actually quite commonplace.
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Jun 2013 23:29:28 BDT
Now you made me go back and check Williams & Tribe's book.
Indeed, as I said, they beat Siderits to the "Buddha is not a prince" statement by several years.
"... the Buddha was *not* born a prince..." (p. 25)
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jun 2013 00:24:53 BDT
Yet in no way did I say "herculean effort" or anything similar - they are your own words you refute, nor is the point, as already spelled out, anything to do with innovation but is purely contrary to your false statements of E.g. your #2.
Quite commonplace (!), and that was just the first mere example, I find utterly untrue. Unquestionably the norm is to state Gotama Buddha was a royal price as is in thousands upon thousands of books on Buddha and the Dhamma (Dharma).
As perhaps wilfully, this piling miscomprehension upon miscomprehension is fruitless, it's best to leave it as lost for now.