Making Sense of Suffering: Insights from Buddhism and Critical Social Science
In order to enrich our analytical framework for the study and alleviation of suffering, this chapter argues that there are good reasons to encourage a dialogue between Buddhism and critical social science (CSS). Although both traditions hold the reduction of suffering as fundamental, they provide different causal understandings of and recommendations for healing suffering. CSS is good at criticizing social sources of suffering, but arguably requires a constant engagement with a variety of normative discourses in order to regain clarity as to its motivations and purposes. On the other hand, although Buddhism stresses personal liberation and provides tools for addressing existential suffering, it has nevertheless historically neglected social causes of suffering. Thus, there are spaces for mutual enrichment and synthesis, as well as areas of disagreement that could potentially spur further dialogue, critique, self-critique, and reflexivity.
KeywordsEthics Ontology Reflexivity Buddhism Suffering
The author wishes to thank Ron Anderson, Patrick Brown, Katja Bruisch, Ryan Burg, Letta Wren Page, Lili Di Puppo, and Sandy Ross for very useful comments and criticism. All the shortcomings of the text are entirely the author’s responsibility.
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