Hi folks! Been awhile. I have been in school, so haven't done much on forums outside of my current field of study (mathematics).
I find myself in a funny position of being in a Buddhist Philosophy class. I needed a 4000 level credit, so why not.
We are expected to do a presentation at some point, and while I am overwhelmed with the possibilities, one that struck me was to talk about the variety of philosophical and religious tradition at the time of the Buddha. I think this is is under-emphasised in most Buddhist texts, which speak of india as being more or less homogenous philosophically (i.e. the Buddha taught kamma and rebirth because "everyone believed it.")
I've found that, particularly in the Majjhima Nikaya, which I have studied the most, the Buddha engages in debate with MANY philosophers and leaders of religious sects. Unfortunately, it's not like I've kept a tab on these in my head, so I was hoping you could all help me out.
For example, there were people that did not believe in rebirth, otherwise there would be no need for something such as the apannaka sutta. We also have annihilationists, creationists, cosmologists (people discussing the origins and fate of the universe) We have people who think the soul is separate from the body, (might we call them cartesians?) and those that think the soul is the same as the body.
I think that for almost any philosophy we attribute to some "western" thinker, there was an analog around at the time of the Buddha. And the Buddha typically argued against such philosophy as either wrong or just papanca. Essentially I plan to challenge the class by saying that the Buddha did not really engage in philosophy. (Strictly speaking, not true, but I'd like to be provocative.)
There is a sutta somewhere, I think, where the Buddha even says that his discipline is the type that "does not engage in debates," or somesuch. But I am currently unable to find it.
Any contribution, especially with quotes, would be appreciated. I'll even post my own findings here in this thread since I'll continue to search.