The Life And Death Of Socrates And The Buddha

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October 10, 2011 Critical Reading Assignment: Summary The title of the article “Dialogues with Death,” alludes to two clear similarities between Socrates and the Buddha. The author Matthew Dillon asserts that there is an obvious comparison waiting to be made between the Phaedo and the Mahaparinibbana Sutta,both recounting the final days of Socrates and the Buddha, respectively. The author’s thesis states that he wants to fill this gap and analyze the congruences in both their lives and also their philosophies and teachings, claiming they run parallel to each other more than expected. He clarifies that his purpose is not to say either dogma had influence on the other, but that there was affinity between Greek and Indian thought. Dillon hopes to accomplish this by using the two texts that conveniently explore the same subject. The author begins by historically tying the two subjects, Socrates and the Buddha, by calling them “contemporaneous.” He provides Socrates birth and death dates, which are believed to be accurate, and the Buddha’s, which are always in question of exactitude. Additionally to living in the same time period, both of them lived in similar situations in their home countries. The author states that both Greece and India underwent a challenging of beliefs by new philosophical systems. To bridge the gap further, Pythagoras is brought into the picture as being said to have had communication with India and Socrates said to have had a conversation with an Indian in Greece; both very inconclusive points as the author states he lacks evidence to prove them to be true. A setback to comparing the two particular masters is that none of them ever wrote anything down themselves. Both masters taught through dialogue. Therefore, there is some embellishments that the author is worried about in both texts: as Plato could stand on his own merit due to

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