With the peer evaluations and effective grade I received at the bottom.
I will expand this in the future to more fully explain areas I could not due to the word limit (800 Words), and also answer the two other questions I did not need to answer for the course.
Does modern science lend support to Buddhist ideas about the human predicament?
- There is suffering
- There is an origin to suffering
- There is a way to live that is not suffering
- There is a path leading to life without suffering.
I assert that modern science (not just psychology) does indeed support the Buddhist claims about the human predicament.
Physics supports a causal universe, a point of reference that time (as we understand it) goes from. That is not to say that time has to go one directionally. For purposes here (based on the below link) I shall describe time as being the measurement of causality, or Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda) the intricate description of the human predicament of suffering (the first two noble truths), and it's end is described as breaking the links of Dependent Origination (the second two noble truths). With this calling the Dhamma “timeless” (akaliko) takes on a more literal aspect, but this is probably taking this descriptor of Dhamma to a useless extreme unless one understands this is mental time.
Medicine and neuroscience supports that physical pain exists and serves a use for self-preservation from an evolutionary standpoint. Buddhism does not see this pain (known as the first arrow) as part of the problem regarding the human predicament, rather, it is our reaction (known as the second arrow) that is the problem. These negative reactions, and problematic aspects of the mind, is where psychology first turned toward, only focused on positive psychology from the late fifties (approximately).
So to surmise science (through several disciplines) can be seen to support Buddhist theories of the human predicament, with both implicit and explicit evidence.
Notes for Question One
2 - Fundamentals of Buddhism – Dependent Origination http://www.buddhanet.net/funbud12.htm.
3 - Self-preservation wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-preservation.
4 - SN 36.6 Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html.
Does modern science lend support to the moral validity of Buddhism?
1 - I undertake the precept to refrain from taking the life of any living creature.
2 - I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3 - I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
- I undertake the precept to refrain from any intentional sexual activity.
5 - I undertake the precept to refrain from consuming intoxicating drink and drugs which lead to carelessness.
6 - I undertake the precept to refrain from eating at inappropriate times.
7 - I undertake the precept to refrain from entertainment, beautification, and adornment.
8 - I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place.
In addition to these the Noble Eightfold Path (ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo) has the second division of training as morality or virtue (sīlā), which comprises of upright action (sammāvācā), upright speech (sammākamma), and upright livelihood (sammā-ājīva).
I believe that modern science both does and does not support the moral validity of Buddhism.
Modern science in the form of Evolutionary Morality shows that social animals do modify or restrain their individual behaviours in order to make living within a group worthwhile. These evolved moral behaviours are known as natural precepts, because it is blameable by the world or group (this may include different species) one lives within and comprise the first four precepts of the Five precepts. These natural precepts are contrasted by precepts of ordinance, where one is spiritually blameable and comprise the third and last four precepts of the eight precepts. Buddhism and evolutionary theories of morality split with Buddhism saying that we need to uproot the negative mind-states that cause killing or stealing, which evolutionary speaking does not make sense are they are useful traits in context of fighting competing groups (human or other species) for food and resources, or within the group to gain and sustain authority and power over resources.
To end, Buddhism and evolution theory agree there are certain norms, which interestingly every human group has to some degree, but what we should do about the internal cause of these (greed, hatred...) is where Buddhism and Evolutionary Theory of Morality split due to Buddhism's prescriptive nature, and Evolutionary Theories of Moralities descriptive nature.
Notes for Question Two
6 - Noble Eightfold Path - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_Eightfold_Path#Ethical_conduct.
7 - Evolution of Morality - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality.
8 - Unfortunately I never took note of which commentarial literature I found this information in some years ago. There is this information that details which rule is natural and by ordinance. http://cittasanto.weebly.com/3/post/2012/06/precepts-range-of-action-explained.html.
peer 1 → Very comprehensive essay. You packed a lot into a small space and it was good but sometimes hard to follow.
peer 2 → [This area was left blank by the evaluator.]
peer 3 → Well, you really know your Buddhist dogma. You explain it rather well, too. Thank you for your reiteration and explanation of the eightfold path. It makes me feel a little bad, however, as I miss the mark. Yet, I am struck with admiration that any modern person can adhere to the dictum.
peer 4 → A clear and interesting essay. An interesting point the that Buddhist morality is prescriptive while evolutionary psychology is descriptive. I think for this reason morality needs to go beyond science in someways. You could also argue that where evolution have given us a bias in favor of ourselves Buddhist philosophy, supported by neuro-science, argues that there is no self therefore it is not logical treat others any differently to how we treat ourselves.
peer 5 → A nice essay. It's very clear that you are familiar with both Buddhist theory and science! The essay very well researched and well written. I really appreciate the annotated works cited. I'm a fan of Brian Greene's work, but I had not seen the video that you cited, so I appreciated the link. Well Done!