Ernst Mach - The Scientist as a Buddhist ?
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.
KeywordsBuddhist Tradition Causal Nexus Buddhist Teaching Conventional Truth Buddhist Doctrine
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