Knowledge Construction Based on Buddhist Theory of Knowledge

J. A. D. F. M. Jayatilleke


Philosophers of science could be categorized into two major groups based on thestandpoint regarding how scientific knowledge is gained. One group claims thatscientific knowledge (hypotheses, theories and laws) is discovered by outstandingscientists. This view has a long history and it is still being supported by many scientists.

The other group claims that scientific knowledge is constructed by gifted andcreative scientists. This view has gained momentum fairly recently compared to theother view.

The view that scientific knowledge is discovered assumes that there exists aworld independent of human beings. Scientists discover the secrets or laws governingnature. The history of this view goes back to the fifteenth (15th) Century B.C. withemergence of renaissance in Europe.

According to the other view, creative people construct hypotheses, theories orlaws in science in order to understand phenomena or to solve problems faced byscientists. The resurgence of this views occurred in the 1960‟s through the works of theAmerican philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn.

The purpose of the study is, (i) to present the recent developments in science andphilosophy which supports the second view and (ii) to present some knowledgeconstructions based on Buddhist epistemology.

For example two Chilean Neurobiologists, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varelahave constructed a theory of cognition based on Buddhist epistemology. It is named as“Santiago Theory of Cognition”.

This study was carried out mainly through literature survey and a comparativeand a critical study of recent developments in science and philosophy.

Alternative knowledge systems could be constructed based on differentepistemologies and cultures.

Key words: Buddhist epistemology, Realism, Relativism, Discovery, Construction,Cognition


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