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11 - Buddhist Philosophical Approaches to Human Dignity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2022

Jimmy Chia-Shin Hsu
Affiliation:
Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
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Summary

Human rights/dignity can be grounded in Buddhism as part of the freedom of human beings to liberate themselves from suffering. But there are markedly different approaches to this freedom in various Buddhisms. In early Buddhism, dignity can be seen as a worth that arises intrinsically due to the ability of each individual to free oneself from suffering. In Nishitani Keiji’s philosophy of Zen, dignity is an ability to free everyone from an ontologically shared suffering, as in Thich Nhat Hanh’s engaged Buddhism. Next, the chapter examines two very common forms of Buddhism that are often neglected in rights/dignity discourses – salvific Buddhism (Pure Land) and Confucian Buddhism. In Tanabe Hajime’s view of salvific Buddhism, “dignity”is not about attaining freedom oneself but about one’s being saved by absolute other power and being a mediator for that salvation. In Watsuji Tetsurō’s Confucian Buddhism, dignity is seen as the potential to be free from one’s egotism for the sake of serving one’s community. All of these show markedly different moral approaches to human dignity – and Sueki Fumihiko warns us not to miss the trans-ethical side of these Buddhisms.

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Human Dignity in Asia
Dialogue between Law and Culture
, pp. 269 - 284
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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