How Did the Buddha Foster Critical Thinking and Thereby Contribute to Human Development?

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Frank J. Hoffman


This research paper is focused on the Buddha as a philosopher comparing and
contrasting him with Socrates. These two important figures could be studied by many points
of view. Buddha and Socrates developed their ideas of critical thinking and practiced them,
thereby contributing to human development. The way in which Buddha spoke of his teaching
is pragmatic, in saying that he teaches only suffering and its elimination. However, a more
expansive view is afforded when one views Buddhism as one of the schools of Indian
Philosophy. Viewing the panorama of Materialists, Skeptics, Ajivikas, Jains, Fatalists, Takki,
and Traditional Brahmins, it becomes evident why in the Sutta Pitaka so much of the Buddha’s
effort is directed at stating, clarifying, and refuting these alternative philosophical views.


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How to Cite
Hoffman, F. J. (2018). How Did the Buddha Foster Critical Thinking and Thereby Contribute to Human Development?. The Journal of International Association of Buddhist Universities (JIABU), 11(3), 506–511. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Frank J. Hoffman, South Asia Center, University of Pennsylvania

Prof. Dr. Frank J. Hoffman received his Ph.D. degree from the University of London, King’s College,
and his M.A. from the University of Hawaii. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy and
Religious Studies and Associate Director of Ethnic Studies, West Chester University, in
West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is a recipient of the Faculty Merit Award in Research
(2006) and the Faculty Merit Award in Faculty-Student Collaboration (2005). Frank
Hoffman is currently Chair, Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium (2011-2013),
and serves as an Associate Editor of the international journal, Asian Philosophy. In
August 2012 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy and Buddhism at Sri Lanka
International Buddhist Academy (SIBA).

Dr. Hoffman is a Visiting Scholar (Associate) in the South Asia Center, University of
Pennsylvania, where he conducts research with a primary focus on early Buddhism in the
Theravada tradition.
He is the author of this book and also Rationality and Mind in Early Buddhism; co-editor of
Pali Buddhism (with Mahinda Deegalle) and Breaking Barriers (with Godabarisha
Mishra). He has done approximately 100 publications, including books, book chapters,
journal articles, encyclopedia articles, and book reviews. He has lectured in England,
Germany, China, India, Korea, Japan, and Sri Lanka.


Hoffman, Frank J. (1987/2002), Rationality and Mind in Early Buddhism.
Jayatilleke, K.N. (1963), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge.
Kalansuriya, A.D.P. (1987), A Philosophical Analysis of Buddhist Notions: The Buddha and
Kalupahana, David J. (1976), Buddhist Philosophy.