Conze on perennial and sciential philosophies

The crux here is bringing the perennial and the sciential together, so they are both seen and experienced, though the distinctions are not blurred. Seems like the dichotomy is similar to (identical with?) the distinction between the ultimate and historical dimensions that Thich Nhat Hahn (Thây) refers to frequently. So Thây’s work would be a place to go to explore how the two fit together, and how to work with that connection and opposition. I am finding the question of the relationship between the perennial and sciential in both my activism (effective public leadership) and natural history projects. On the activism side, it’s expressed as the relationship between engagement with public issues to achieve specific policy goals, versus the potentially personally and socially transformative consequences of alternative methods of practice in this arena, in terms of our connections with the cosmos and beyond, with our mortality, and the ethical. On the natural history side, it’s the relationship between the geometric and quantitative scientific revolution, with its outfall, and nature as manifestation or representation of the ultimate. (See Rosenberg, previous post & his “The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.”) How to engage with both: a central question in my novel Alaska Dragon, so the question is basic, and the roots go deep.

from Conze, E. 1963. Buddhist Philosophy and Its European Parallels. Philosophy East and West 13, no. 1: 9–23, p. 14:
As  philosophies,  both   the  “perennial”   and  the “sciential”    systems  possess  some   degree   of intellectuality, and  up  to a point  they  both  use reasoning.  But considered  in their purity, as ideal types, they differ in that the first is  motivated by man’s spiritual needs, and aims at his salvation from the world  and its ways, whereas  the second  is motivated  by his utilitarian  needs, aims  at  his conquest  of  the  world, and  is  therefore  greatly concerned  with  the  natural  and  social  sciences. Between  the  two  extremes  there  are,  of  course, numerous  intermediary  stages.  They depend  to some extent  on the quality   of  the  spirituality behind them, which  is very high, say, in Buddhism, slightly lower in Plato and Aristotle, and still  quite marked in  such  men  as  Spinoza,  Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, Goethe,  Hegel,  and  Bergson.   The  general  trend, however, has  been  a continuous  loss  of  spiritual substance   between   1450  and  1960,  based  on  an increasing  forgetfulness  of age-old  traditions, an increasing  unawareness of spiritual  practices, and an increasing indifference  to the spiritual life  by the classes which dominate society.

from Betty, L. S. 1971. The Buddhist-Humean Parallels: Postmortem. Philosophy East and West 21, no. 3: 237–253.

I agree with Professor Conze, along with practically all other students of Buddhism, that Buddhism, for the most part regardless of schools, provides “essentially a doctrine of salvation, and that all its philosophical statements are subordinate to its soteriological purpose.”

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