Thursday, 14 August 2008

Outline of a sketch of what categories or labels to use

People often tell me a Ph.D. is a daunting task. Yup. Others say it's just like all those 20-25 page philosophy papers I've done, only times six or eight. While appealing, that analogy doesn't quite cut it. For such a paper about four-ten sources is sufficient, with about a third of those being used extensively. So, realistically, all of the source-material can be kept somewhere rattling around my noggin (that is, I can keep everything organized in my mind - no need for external organization skills or strategies).

The Ph.D. is a different animal though - I'm looking at hundreds of sources, with probably two dozen as primary. I'm sifting out primary materials (suttas mostly) from scholarly articles from books. I'm doing Kant scholarship, which involves ethics, history, aesthetics, and more. I'm doing general Ethics scholarship: classical virtue theory, Christian ethics, modern ethics: Kant and Mill primarily, and contemporary articles and debates. Thirdly, I'm piecing together "Buddhist Ethics," a category that really doesn't exist except in contemporary Western thought. That means we're making it up as we go. It's the "wild west" of the academic world, filled with wild men, straight shooters, and plenty of outlaws.

A daunting task indeed.

So here I hope to categorize things as best I can as I come across them. I suppose it will be of some help to begin by establishing a categorization system. (here goes)

By Time Period: All materials should be classified as following. These are subject to change and input is warmly welcomed.
early source (pre - 0 CE)
early medieval (0 CE - 700CE, covering everything pre-Shantideva)
middle medieval (700 CE-1200 CE)
late medieval (1200 CE - 1800 CE)
early modern (1800 CE - 1900 CE)
late modern (1900 CE - 1980 CE, covering everything pre-me - ha)
contemporary (1980 - current)
By type:
source (includes abhidhamma/abhidharmas)
commentary (includes such works as the Visuddhimagga and the lam rim chen mo)
scholarly (a somewhat 'false' distinction, as the commentaries are no-doubt 'scholarly' too, but nonetheless, this will denote early Western attempts to understand Buddhism, all the way through the current, as well as recent non-Western works who use the approach of Western scholarship to analyze Buddhism)
By Content: this will be the toughest category/label to manage. Here is a start.
metaphysics (broadly defined)
self (/no-self, anatman, anatta)
emptiness (sunyata, sunnata)
morality (sila)
(perfections, paramitas)
More to come soon...