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The Making of Buddhist Modernism$
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David L. McMahan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195183276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183276.001.0001

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Buddhism and the Discourses of Modernity

Buddhism and the Discourses of Modernity

(p.61) 3 Buddhism and the Discourses of Modernity
The Making of Buddhist Modernism

David L. McMahan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Buddhism has created a place for itself in the modern ecology of ideas and practices by placing itself within and between three key discourses of modernity: those of scientific naturalism, Romanticism and Transcendentalism, and Christianity. Specifically, it aligned itself with scientific rationalism over against conservative, missionary forms of Christianity, while borrowing from Christianity’s more liberal and mystical elements. Nevertheless, it has also been critical of positivistic and scientistic modes of rationalism, and in articulating this critique it has drawn on the Romantic-Transcendentalist cosmology and their stress on the value of interior experience. This chapter shows how foundational Buddhist modernists like Soen Shaku and Dwight Goddard re-configured Buddhist concepts in the languages of rationalism, Romanticism, and Christianity, carving out a space for Buddhism in the tensions between these discourses.

Keywords:   Soen Shaku, Dwight Goddard, Romanticism, Transcendentalism, scientific rationalism, Freidrich Schelling, Ralph Waldo Emerson, perennial philosophy, Taixu

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