Aquinas and Mipham on Military and Punitive Violence

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 28, 2021

Aquinas and Mipham on Military and Punitive Violence: A Tribute to Michael Jerryson

Damien Keown
Goldsmiths, University of London (Emeritus)

The claim that Buddhism is exclusively a “religion of peace” has been shown to be untenable. Buddhism now faces the challenge of explaining how the pacifist spirit of its teachings can be reconciled with its well-documented recourse to military and punitive violence. Buddhism is not the only religion to face this challenge, and we first consider the Christian stance on violence as formulated by St. Thomas Aquinas before turning to the views of the Tibetan polymath Jamgön Mipham. We consider to what extent the views of the two thinkers are compatible and conclude with a suggestion as to how what Michael Jerryson calls “the quandary of Buddhism and violence” might be resolved.

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