Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries
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Is Mahavihara Abhidhamma comparable to any modern western philosophies of mind?
There are a lot of different theories, I'm aware of three main contenders in academic thought, all of which are monistic:
- Functionalism: The mind is simply a computer, an information processor, defined not as an entity of itself but by the functions it performs. So, theoretically, even things like computers or any system which processes inputs and outputs is a "mind", in the same sense.
- Biological Naturalism: Brains create minds. That is, minds are a biological phenomenon and thoughts are merely higher-level features of the brain.
- Anomalous Monism: Really confusing. I've read about it here, but still don't think I fully understand it.
How is the description of mind and body similar to or different from the above views?
Would you say the Mahavihara Abhidhamma is dualist or is it monist\nondualist?
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Some thoughts from Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda
To what extent can we compare modern psychology with the analysis provided in the Abhidhamma? Modern psychology, limited as it is, comes within the scope of Abhidhamma in so far as it deals with the mind -- with thoughts, thought processes, and mental states. The difference lies in the fact that Abhidhamma does not accept the concept of a psyche or a soul.
The analysis of the nature of the mind given in the Abhidhamma is not available through any other source.. Even modern psychologists are very much in the dark with regards to subjects like mental impulses or mental beats (Javana Citta) as discussed in the Abhidhamma. Dr. Graham Howe, an eminent Harley Street psychologist, wrote in his book, the Invisible Anatomy:
'In the course of their work many psychologists have found, as the pioneer work of C.G. Jung has shown, that we are near to [the] Buddha. To read a little Buddhism is to realize that the Buddhists knew two thousand five hundred years ago far more about our modern problems of psychology than they have yet been given credit for. They studied these problems long ago, and found the answers too. We are now rediscovering the Ancient Wisdom of the East.'
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