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Greek Buddha: Pyrrho's Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  36 ratings  ·  10 reviews


"Greek Buddha" shows how Buddhism shaped the philosophy of Pyrrho, the famous founder of Pyrrhonian scepticism in ancient Greece. Identifying Pyrrho's basic teachings with those of Early Buddhism, Christopher I. Beckwith traces the origins of a major tradition in Greek philosophy to Gandh?ra, a country in Central Asia and northwestern India.
Pyrrho of Elis accompanied Alexa
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Princeton University Press (first published June 8th 2015)
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3.89  · 
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 ·  36 ratings  ·  10 reviews


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RK-ïsme
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I jumped into this book with great enthusiasm. The main theme of the book, along with a few other tantalizing ideas, is to suggest that the philosophy of the Hellenic philosopher Pyrrho (the 1st sceptic) was directly affected by the philosophy of early Buddhism. Indeed, author Beckwith would have us believe that written records by Pyrrho's follower, Timon of Phlius, are, in fact, the earliest written records anywhere of Buddhist thought.

Now you're probably thinking like I did when I read about
...more
Vishvapani
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a highly ambitious book on the Greek philosopher Pyrrho and his relationship to Early Buddhism, and more significantly on Early Buddhism itself. But it is also very problematic. I would encourage anyone interested in the elusive question of the nature of the historical Buddha's teaching, and the early connections of Buddhism to the western world to read this book. But it is far from proving its bold claims, which include fundamental reinterpretations of not only of Buddhism and Pyrrho, b ...more
Ethan
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Beckwith is not the first scholar to argue that Pyrrho and early Indian Buddhism are historically related in some way (e.g., Everard Flintoff's "Pyrrho and India," Thomas McEvilley's The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, and Adrian Kuzminski's Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism). My reaction to Beckwith’s study is in one respect similar and in other respects unique.

As with previous studies on the topic, I think the evidence availa
...more
Dmitri
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 650 BC horse mounted Scythians from the Caucasus region fought their way to Egypt, as allies of the Assyrians from northern Iraq. After defeat by the Medes of Iran in 600 BC the Scythians built an empire in Central Asia that reached as far as China. In 550 BC Cyrus the Great of Persia captured much of what is present day Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. During this period the prophet Zarathustra reformed the earlier polytheism of the Medes into the first monotheistic religion, with o ...more
Seth
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Four centuries lie between the time the Buddha lived and the time the earliest known Gandhari and Pali Buddhist texts were committed to writing. Since religions are never static affairs, these texts undoubtedly diverged to some extent from the Buddha’s original teachings, but exactly how far and in which ways is uncertain; our knowledge of the gap between the earliest Buddhist teachings and early canonical Buddhism is basically a vast, empty chasm. Unfortunately for us, the Buddha’s Indian conte ...more
Richard
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An incredible and provocative read that significantly challenges what I understand about Buddhism. And I find it both clever and useful that the author begins with The Problem of the Criterion. As a Buddhist practitioner I have always been skeptical of the "veracity" of all the Suttas in the Nikayas and have largely read them without ever believing them to be "real" historical accounts.

But it's truly shocking that Beckwith seems to be suggesting that some of the basic tenets of Buddhism, such as
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Barry Magid
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
We know that the earliest Indian accounts (the Pali canon) of the Buddha's life and teaching were complied hundreds of years after his death. What if the most reliable picture of early Buddhism instead comes hundreds of years earlier via the teachings of Pyrrho, the Greek founder of Skepticism, who traveled to India with Alexander's army in the 4th century BCE? The "Buddhism" that Pyrrho attests to and brought back to Greece centered on "no views" --no inherent or permanent Truth; "no inclinatio ...more
Kalle Nordenstorm
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: stoics
____2019____
Pyrrho
Pyrrhos käpphäst var att: Pragmata (praktiska livsregler) är viktigare än Doxa (trossatser). Han går så långt som att förespråka att man inte alls bör ha trossatser om psykologi eller teologi.

För Pyrrho så är syftet med korrekta Pragmata att uppnå Apatheia (typ apati) som i längden leder till Atraxia. Detta kan jämföras med hur Buddha förkunnade att avsaknad av begär leder till Nirvana.

Fin liten grej med Ataraxia vs Nirvana är att Ataraxia inte är någonting man uppnår en gång
...more
John
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Provocative and erudite attack on traditional views of the origin of Buddhism, Greek skepticism, and other intellectual and religious movements in the ancient world. I can't pretend to evaluate the arguments, but it's an entertaining read for anyone interested in intellectual history.
Pedro
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I need to write a review on this book...
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“I would like to emphasize that this book does not belong to any existing view, school, or field, as far as I am aware, so that it does not subscribe to any tradition walled off from the rest of intellectual life. It therefore has no gatekeepers, clad in the traditional metaphorical chain-mail armor and bearing the traditional metaphorical halberd, proclaiming threats to their perceived enemies in archaic languages, dedicated to keeping new knowledge out and stamping out all possible threats to those inside its walls so that the residents can safely continue their traditional beliefs without the necessity of thinking about them.” 0 likes
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