Jonathan Golden uses Kuhn’s notion of a ‘paradigm shift’ to discuss the issue of ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism. He argues that Kuhn’s perspective is consistent with Mike Slott’s view of truths and tasks; while there are no absolute truths, our beliefs (provisional truth claims) are a necessary precondition for our practice, and practitioners should not be required to make a binary choice between truths and tasks.
Mike Slott, Winton Higgins, Stephen Batchelor, and Jonathan Golden discuss the relationship of truths and tasks in a secular approach to the dharma.
Stephen Batchelor continues the dialogue on ‘truths’ and ‘tasks’ in secular Buddhism by framing the discussion from a broader, historical perspective. Stephen argues that the Buddha’s radical move was to depart from the truth-based perspective of Brahmanic, Indian culture to teach a fully committed ethical life that is not underwritten by any ultimate truth.
In response to Mike Slott’s article on truths and tasks in secular Buddhism Winton Higgins argues that Mike’s critique of Stephen Batchelor’s formulation is misconceived; the issue is not the epistemological status of truth but about how we should live and practise. Dharma practitioners do have to choose: they can’t wish-wash over the truths/tasks distinction.
While Stephen Batchelor’s emphasis on the pragmatic and ethical meaning of the Buddha’s teachings has been crucial in the development of a secular approach to the dharma, Mike Slott argues that Stephen has not adequately addressed a legitimate concern about the role and meaning of truth in his approach. The secular dharmic path challenges us to assess constantly both our ‘tasks’ and the ‘truths’ on which they are based.