A Comparison of Western and Eastern Conceptions of Human Nature

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A Comparison of Western and Eastern Conceptions of Human Nature

Buddhism and Marxism are two philosophic models of human nature separated by many centuries and many thousand of miles. It is difficult therefore to envisage how the two could have much if any dialogue between them; indeed it may well be that much more contrast may be found than synthesis. As to a determination on the possibly far more difficult question, the question as to who has a greater claim for validity, as we shall see that is perhaps a question largely dependant on belief. Possibly this question will best be considered only after some attempt is made to build a dialogue (whether in opposition or cohabitation) between the two
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The Dialectic of society is the analysis of the evolutionary and even revolutionary phases a society moves through towards a time of optimum political, social and individual awareness and, to use the term most relevant to our current analysis and comparison, ‘enlightenment’. Hegel’s dialectic, and Marx’s which was to follow, were stages in the phase of western thought which began with ‘the enlightenment’, with Kant, Hobbes and Descartes and with the advance and victory of rationality over metaphysics which was the hallmark of the late 18th century, and the dawn of the modernist ere.

“For Hegel, history was the development and conflict of abstract ‘principles’- cultures, religions and philosophies. In this development he spoke of ‘the power of the negative’, thinking that there was always a tension between any present state of affairs and what it was becoming: every state of affairs contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction and transformation to a higher stage. Each stage was a progress beyond those that had preceded, and contained elements from them. This process Hegel called the dialectic, a concept that Marx took over but stood on its head, considering that, instead of abstract principles, the changing economic basis of society- and the social classes to

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