Plato, Buddhism & Storytelling

Plato, Buddhism & Storytelling

– Buddhist stories confound modern story-telling conventions – rarely is there character development, crises of confidence & emotional agonies
– so how does Buddhism relate to Plato given the 2 fundamental differences:
– Buddhism denies the existence of self/soul
– Plato believes reality/the world is intelligible (& therefore rational) whereas Buddhists think everything is transient
– there are similarities though between Platonism & Buddhism:
– our task as a person is to deal with reality – I.e. right feelings & right actions follow when we aim to understand reality – they believe understanding reality – as it is – is a moral imperative (& embarking on this task is a transformative one – one that will change us & improve our character
– both traditions believe the reality we need to understand is an impersonal one & does not come with action or agency, or choice or decision
– Buddhism involves:
– mind training which allows a person to disconnect from any distracting or confused impression that arises
– storytelling about all kinds of events – they invite a person to view the world in a way the “accomplished person” views the world – & suffers less – so as to change perspective, give correct categories for viewing our experience etc so as to view & interpret reality correctly or “seeing things as they are” – I.e. understanding the only reality there is (just one) the way it actually is – this is because humans have a tendency to interpret our experiences & the world around us in terms of our desires & how the world/other people meets those desires – this is often a distortion of reality because reality does not in fact either answer to or work to frustrate our desires (this is because reality is transient without any overall plan)

Note: Plato believes we are made up of competing desires and thoughts (which translate into actions) & which we constantly have to weigh up & balance – our “character” is shaped & derived from this disunity/unity of these competing desires & thoughts – Plato & the Buddhists believe we do have a choice, but that such choices are always influenced by perceptions, recollections, impressions, desires, how we categorise certain events (& their meaning) – the traditions both believe that if you want to improve your moral choices you need to change the categories in which you view reality & the way you understand the various experiences you have had or are likely to encounter – to change, a person needs to change perspective, their outlook on reality, & categories that you reach for when describing an event in the environment
Note: Aristotle believed our character consisted of various trait substrata & our desires/thoughts are voluntary and either worthy of praise or blame – that it is ultimately a choice – a voluntary choice

Source: ABC RN | the Philosopher’s Zone | 25 November 2018


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