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Does Nature Have Value in the Pāli Canon?

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I examine whether certain aspects of early Buddhist doctrine are compatible with ascribing value to nature by focusing in particular on the doctrine of the Three Marks of Existence. This portrays the world as characterised by suffering, impermanence, and by 'not-self'. From the perspective of environmental philosophy each of these is problematic, either because nature is viewed negatively, or else because only nibbāna is valued positively, and this is understood to entail a repudiation of the world. I argue against such interpretations and show that the doctrine of not-self militates against any attribution of value, whether positive or negative. This disposes of the prevalent charge that the doctrines imply a negative view of nature.
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Keywords: Buddhism; Three Marks of Existence; environmentalism; nature; value

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2013

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2017) of 1.852. 5 Year Impact Factor: 1.8.
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