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Ernst Mach - The Scientist as a Buddhist ?

  • Ursula Baatz
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 143)

Abstract

When Heinrich Gomperz, an Austrian historian of philosophy living in the USA, entitled Ernst Mach as the“Buddha of Science” in his autobiography1, he summarized a discussion which had begun at the turn of the century and ended in the 1920’s. It was Mach’s phenomenalistic approach to his Analysis of Sensations, his emphasis on the non-existence of the“Ego”, which had prompted his contemporaries to compare his theory with Buddhist insights. The first translations of the Pali Canon were then available in German, and Viennese artists and intellectuals studied them for new insights. Mach did not oppose the interpretation of his adherents who claimed that he was akin to Buddhism. On the other hand, comparison between science (especially physics) and religion in whatever aspect were not a matter of inquiry among members of the scientific community or among scientific lay people in those days. The Verein Ernst Mach, which was the organizational platform of the Wiener Kreis, was basically socialist and was hardly interested in religions. This is not at all surprising, especially if one considers the strong ties between Austrian political conservatives and the Church in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Somewhat oddly, a recent volume of essays, Ernst Mach - Studien und Dokumente zu Leben und Werk, edited by Dieter Hoffmann & Hubert Laitko, Berlin, 1991 carried the pre-publication title Ernst Mach - Buddha der Wissenschaft, though it contained almost nothing about Mach’s relationship to Buddhism.

Keywords

Buddhist Tradition Causal Nexus Buddhist Teaching Conventional Truth Buddhist Doctrine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ursula Baatz
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ViennaAustria

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