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Does Nature Have Value in the Pāli Canon?

Colette Sciberras

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 381-399. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13648087563782


I examine whether certain aspects of early Buddhist doctrine are compatible with ascribing value to nature by focusing in particular on the doctrine of the Three Marks of Existence. This portrays the world as characterised by suffering, impermanence, and by 'not-self'. From the perspective of environmental philosophy each of these is problematic, either because nature is viewed negatively, or else because only nibbāna is valued positively, and this is understood to entail a repudiation of the world. I argue against such interpretations and show that the doctrine of not-self militates against any attribution of value, whether positive or negative. This disposes of the prevalent charge that the doctrines imply a negative view of nature.


Buddhism, environmentalism, value, nature, Three Marks of Existence

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