Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



This dissertation explores the relationship of Buddhist political thought and liberal political thought at the level of first principles. I will examine the tension created by the Buddhist view of political life as instrumental and secondary to man's being as a function of the transition of the Buddhist world into the sphere of Western political life, which views the role of politics as primary to man's nature. In Part I, this will be accomplished through a consideration of the origins of political life and the foundation of the political state in each tradition as viewed through the themes of human nature, the individual, and wisdom. In Part II of this dissertation, I will view the tensions of this transition as a function of contemporary political practice. Here I will address the political history and political thought of Myanmar and consider how these features have contributed to the current humanitarian crisis in the country. I will then examine the contemporary Western political movement of socially-engaged Buddhism. I conclude with a brief consideration of the ways that Buddhist political thought's deflationary understanding of politics can help address the problem of ideology in modern Western political life.

Committee Chair

Stoner, James Reist Jr