An analysis and evaluation of free-will within Buddhist and christian traditions
A notion of free-will is as indispensable a concept to the philosophical principles of the Buddhist tradition as it is to the tenets of Christianity. The primary undertaking of this thesis has been to test this hypothesis through an analysis and evaluation of the notion of free-will as it pertains to the belief systems of both traditions. Critical evaluation has permitted me to establish how central and vital the issue of free-will is in both theory and practice. I have reflected upon this centrality and what it has revealed about the status of human free-will within the context of each tradition's understanding of reality. The methodology has been through the principle of analogy of proportion. The approach has also been Wittgensteinian in emphasis, mindful of the need to appraise words used within the context of religious language in their native environment. Although concerned to present the emic meaning of the tradition, this has not precluded speculative enquiry by extending the analogous correlation. From the evidence of my research it is apparent that only a partial endorsement of the original hypothesis can be sustained as a genuine statement. Within the Christian theistic tradition, a notion of free-will qualifies as an indispensable function within its philosophical framework. Given a priori significance, theological doctrines and dogma have been articulated and constructed to sustain metaphysical speculation and presumptions. The reality of free-will is maintained as an ontological imperative. The Buddhist tradition does not seek to preserve a view in which God exists as the primal being of the created order. Regarded as an intrinsic part of human nature nevertheless, a notion of free-will certainly functions as an indispensable concept to support their doctrinal principles of the experiential world. Within a Buddhist frame of reference all concepts at an ultimate level of truth have to be recognised as conditioned, relative and empty. This is the crucial and significant distinction that separates Christian theological ontology and Buddhist philosophical thought.