A Critical Analysis of John Hick's Pluralistic Hypothesis in the Light of the Buddha's Attitude Towards Othe Teachings as Demonstrated in the Pali Nikayas.

Publication Date


Document Type



This thesis consists of a critical analysis of John Hick's post-Copernican pluralistic hypothesis in the light of the Buddha's attitude towards other groups in the Nikayas. It begins with a Survey of some of the methodological problerns that arise both when engaging in a crosscultural comparison and when dealing with primary texts. The first chapter introduces and summarises the thought of John Hick, focussing mainly on his pluralistic hypothesis. The second chapter consists of a brief introduction to the historical and cultural background of the Buddha's world, and the other groups that he would have encountered. There is a short summary of the Buddha's teachings to provide a context for the rest of the thesis. The third chapter focuses on how liberation is defined in Buddhist terms by comparing the qualities of those who are guaranteed liberation and those who are not. This elucidates what criteria must be fulfilled in order to gain liberation; these criteria of practice are crystallised in the noble eightfold path. The fourth chapter contains a discussion of the role of view in tile liberation process, and distinguishes between two different forms of right view, the ordinary and transcendent. After this emphasis on the theoretical elements of criteria for liberation, in chapter five there is an extensive consideration of how the Buddha dealt with other groups and teachings in practice. This chapter culminates in a summary of the Buddha's attitude towards others. In chapter six there is a critical analysis of Hick's hypothesis in the light of these findings from the Buddhist tradition. It is argued that Hick's hypothesis is incoherent on significant counts and that the Buddhist account presented in this thesis offers a more coherent way of relating to other teachings.

Publication Title

Explore Bristol Research

Publisher Policy

open access

Find in your library