Towards a Buddhist Analysis of Shared Action
6. Januar 2021
Dr. Oren Hanner, Research fellow, Numata Zentrum für Buddhismuskunde, Universität Hamburg
06. Januar 2021, 17.15 – 18.45 Uhr
The emphasis placed in Classical Buddhist thought on ethical and karmic considerations related to individuals raises questions as to the application of Buddhist ethics to actions initiated by groups of people, such as communities, organizations, or businesses. This problematic manifests in the writings of recent thinkers and followers of engaged Buddhism, who make creative attempts to theorize ethical responses to contemporary collective issues. In this presentation, I will make my own modest attempt to lay the foundation for a Buddhist analysis of shared action by relying on a number of short and rather well-known anecdotes from Vasubandhu’s presentation of karman. The talk will open with an introduction of three concepts of “group karma” found primarily in Buddhist folklore and modernist discourse. I will then sketch some of the positions regarding the nature of shared action in contemporary philosophy, which will serve as the theoretical background for a Buddhist analysis. Turning to Vasubandhu’s thought, I will seek to unpack his terse account of shared action and, time permitting, offer possible explanations for why Buddhist thinkers did not elaborate on this topic.
Oren Hanner is a research fellow at the Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, Hamburg University. He studied philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv University and holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Hamburg University. His research focuses on Indian and Buddhist thought, with particular interest in ethics and cross-cultural dialogue between Asian and Western analytic philosophy. He is currently working on a book dedicated to moral agency in Vasubandhu’s thought.