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Marxism and Buddhism: Not Such Strange Bedfellows


Buddhism and Marxism may seem unlikely bedfellows, since they come from such different times and places, and appear to address such different concerns. But the two have at least this much in common: both say that life, as we find it, is unsatisfactory; both have a diagnosis of why this is; and both offer the hope of making it better. In this paper, I argue that aspects of each complement aspects of the other. In particular, Buddhism provides a stable ethical base that Marxism always lacked; and Marxism provides a sophisticated political philosophy, which Buddhism never had. I will explain those aspects of each of the two on which I wish to draw, and then explain how they are complementary.

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This article is the first in a special series of commissioned articles on non-Western philosophies. Future articles in this series will appear in later issues.

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Journal of the American Philosophical Association
  • ISSN: 2053-4477
  • EISSN: 2053-4485
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-american-philosophical-association
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