What is right view? My understanding is similar to that of Collins in the following work :
Selfless Persons : Imagery and thought in Theravada Buddhism.
By Steven Collins. Cambridge University Press 1982 ( Paperback 1990 ).
As far back as 1982 Collins explained that "right view" is used in at least three different ways. Why is this not common knowledge by now ? I will try to summarise his observations.
Chapter 3. The denial of self as "right view". 3.1 Different kinds of "right view". page 87.
Collins explains that many different views are condemned as "wrong view" and their opposites praised as "right view".
3.1.1. Collins explains his first meaning of "right view" as the adoption of a view of kamma and rebirth as a simple act of faith (saddha : confidence ). He gives, as an example of "wrong view" the following :
"There is no (gain from making) gifts, offerings, sacrifice ; there is no fruition, no ripening of good and bad deeds ; this world and the other world do not exist ; there is no (benefit from duties towards) mother and father ; there are not beings of spontaneous birth ; there are not to be found in the world ascetics and brahmins who, living and practising rightly, proclaim
(the existence of) both this world and the next, having personally experienced them by superior knowledge".
Collins says : "The corresponding affirmation of these things is right view".
3.1.2. As acquaintance with Buddhist doctrine. page 89. Collins explains his second meaning of "right view" as knowledge of certain key doctrines, such as the four noble truths, or the sequence of dependent origination ( see for example : MN 9 and MN 140 ).
3.1.3. As liberating insight.
Collins says : "When a monk arrives at the end of suffering, the attainment of Arahantship, he has right view in the third and last sense, of "seeing things as they really are". He is the highest of those who are "endowed with view", or who have "achieved view". The Arhat who has "crossed the flood, in his last life, knows things with the highest view". pages 91-92.
[ My own understanding is that right view in this sense is being developed as one progresses on the noble eightfold path.]
3.1.4. Differences between and within the individuals who hold "right view".
Collins explains : "There are, then, three overlapping but distinguishable senses in which Buddhism uses the term right view". "These three senses correspond to a classification of people into three groups which is found in the later parts of the Canon and in the commentaries. These are the "ordinary man" (puthujjano), the "learner" (sekho), and the "adept" (asekho) ; there are three types of wisdom appropriate to these three types of person".
[ The rest of chapter three is a detailed examination of the doctrine of anatta. The psychological realisation of anatta is a key component of this liberating insight ( right view in the third sense ).]
My comments : The first factor of the noble eightfold path is right view. But not every use of the term "right view" is a reference to this first path factor. Right view in the first and second sense can not be the first factor of the noble
eightfold path ( because they are not capable of producing a psychological transformation ). Which only leaves right view in the third sense.
Best wishes, Vincent.