Volume 1 1994
Causation and Telos: The Problem of Buddhist Environmental Ethics
University College of St. Martin
Environmentalist concerns have moved center stage in most major religious traditions of late and Buddhism is no exception to this rule. This paper shows that the canonical writings of Indic Buddhism possess elements that may harmonize with a de facto ecological consciousness. However, their basic attitude towards the causal process drastically reduces the possibility of developing an authentically Buddhist environmental ethic. The classical treatment of causation fails to resolve successfully the tension between symmetry and asymmetry of relations and this has tended to mean that attempts to inject a telos, or sense of purpose, into the world are likely to founder. The agenda of eco-Buddhism is examined in the light of this fact and found wanting.