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Title:A study on the ethical structure of Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna: a critique of the consequentialist approach
Author(s):Song, Jinsub
Department / Program:E. Asian Languages & Cultures
Discipline:East Asian Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Chinese Buddhist Ethics
The Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana
Abstract:In this thesis, I refute the consequentialist approach to Chinese Buddhism. This approach to Buddhist ethics has been popularized by scholars such as Charles Goodman in the last two decades. In a sense, they try to establish a systematic Buddhist ethical theory that can be applied to our daily lives. However, the consequentialist approach is very problematic in that it fails to incorporate important ontological concepts of Buddhism regarding a sentient being's mind. In addition, this approach has some radical arguments, such as justifying harming others, which can be hardly accepted by a common understanding of Buddhism. In order to dispute consequentialist approach, I mainly examine the Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna (大乘起信論, = the Awakening), the most important treatise in Chinese Buddhist history. Many Chinese Buddhist scholars consider this treatise to be crucial because it provides a thorough explanation of the mind. Using the Awakening, I will discuss concepts about the mind in an exploration of the theoretical structure of Chinese Buddhist ethics. By doing so, I will show why the consequentialist approach is problematic. I will argue that Chinese Buddhist ethics around the Awakening is more similar to deontology, and that the consequentialist approach is only plausible based on narrow interpretations of the Awakening.
Issue Date:2016-04-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Jinsub Song
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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