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Kalama Sutta to Jamesian Pragmatism, and Beyond

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There were many itinerant teachers at the time of the Buddha, going village to village begging for alms, and providing teachings to those who would listen. Not surprisingly, they would often contradict each other, thus confusing the people and perhaps even causing them distress. After all, we don’t just want to be told pretty stories, we want to know what’s true. And so it was that the Kalamas of Kesaputta were hoping that the Buddha might ease their troubled minds:
[They] said to the Blessed One, "Lord, there are some brahmans and contemplatives who come to Kesaputta. They expound and glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, and disparage them. And then other brahmans and contemplatives come to Kesaputta. They expound and glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, and disparage them. They leave us absolutely uncertain an…