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The Manual and the History of Psychology.
IF the tombs of Egypt or the ruins of Greece itself were to give up, among their dead that are now and again being restored to us, a copy of some manual with which the young Socrates was put through the mill of current academic doctrine, the discovery would be hailed, especially by scholars of historical insight, as a contribution of peculiar interest. The contents would no doubt yield no new matter of philosophic tradition. But they would certainly teach something respecting such points as preAristotelian logical methods, and the procedure followed in one or more schools for rendering students conversant with the concepts in psychology, ethics and metaphysic accepted or debated by the culture of the age.
Readers whose sympathies are not confined to the shores of the Mediterranean and Egean seas will feel a stir of interest, similar in kind if fainter in degree, on becoming more closely acquainted with the Buddhist text-book entitled Dhamma-Sangani. The English edition of the Pali text, prepared for the Pali Text Society by Professor Dr. Ed. Müller, and published fifteen years ago, has so far failed to elicit any critical discussion among Pali scholars. A cursory inspection may have revealed little but what seemed dry, prolix and sterile. Such was, at
least, the verdict of a younger worker, now, alas! no more.' Closer study of the work will, I believe, prove less ungrateful, more especially if the conception of it as a student's manual be kept well in view. The method of the book is explicative, deductive; its object was, not to add to the Dhamma, but to unfold the orthodox import of terms in use among the body of the faithful, and, by organizing and systematizing the aggregate of doctrinal concepts, to render the learner's intellect both clear and efficient.
Even a superficial inspection of the Manual should yield great promise to anyone interested in the history of Psychology. When upwards of six years ago my attention was first drawn to it, and the desirability of a translation pointed out by Professor Rhys Davids, I was at once attracted by the amount of psychological material embedded in its pages. Buddhist philosophy is ethical first and last. This is beyond dispute. But among ethical systems there is a world of difference in the degree of importance attached to the psychological prolegomena of ethics. In ethical problems we are on a basis of psychology, depending for our material largely upon the psychology of conation or will, with its co-efficients of feeling and intelligence. And in the history of human ideas, in so far as it clusters about those problems, we find this dependence either made prominent or slurred over. Treated superficially, if suggestively and picturesquely, in Plato, the nature and functions of that faculty in man, whereby he is constituted an ethical and political animal,' are by Aristotle analyzed at length. But the Buddhists were, in a way, more advanced in the
1 H. C. Warren, Buddhism in Translations,' xviii. Cf. Kern. Indian Buddhism,' p. 3.
* Cƒ. G. C. Robertson, 'Elements of General Philosophy,' rp. 191, 197; Philosophical Remains,' p. 3; A. Bain, Moral Science'-'The Psychological Data of Ethics." Every ethical system involves a psychology of conduct, and pe. ds for its development upon its idea of what endi actually is C. Douglas, The Philosophy of J. S. M., p. 251).
psychology of their ethics than Aristotle-in a way, that is, which would now be called scientific. Rejecting the assumption of a psyche and of its higher manifestations or noûs, they were content to resolve the consciousness of the Ethical Man, as they found it, into a complex continuum of subjective phenomena. They analyzed this continuum, as we might, exposing it, as it were, by transverse section. But their treatment was genetic. The distinguishable groups of dhamma-of states or mental psychoses'arise' in every case in consciousness, in obedience to certain laws of causation, physical and moral-that is, ultimately, as the outcome of antecedent states of consciousness. There is no exact equivalent in Pali, any more than there is in Aristotle, for the relatively modern term 'consciousness,' yet is the psychological standpoint of the Buddhist philosophy virtually as thoroughgoing in its perceptual basis as that of Berkeley. It was not solipsism any more than Berkeley's immaterialism was solipsistic. It postulated other percipients as Berkeley did, together with, not a Divine cause or source of percepts, but the implicit Monism of early thought veiled by a deliberate Agnosticism. And just as Berkeley, approaching philosophical questions through psychology, was the first man to begin a perfectly scientific doctrine of sense-perception as a psychologist," so Buddhism, from a quite early stage of its development, set itself to analyze and classify mental processes with remarkable insight and sagacity. And on the results of that psychological analysis it sought to base the whole rationale of its practical doctrine and discipline. From studying the processes of attention, and the nature of sensation, the range and depth of feeling and the plasticity of the will in desire and in control, it organized its system of personal self-culture.
Germany has already a history of psychology half completed on the old lines of the assumed monopoly of ancient thought by a small area of the inhabited world. England has not yet got so far. Is it too much to hope that, when such a work is put forth, the greater labour of a wider and juster initiative will have been undertaken, and the development of early psychological thought in the East have been assigned its due place in this branch of historical research?
The Date of the Manual.
We can fortunately fix the date of the Dhamma-Sangani within a limit that, for an Indian book, may be considered narrow. Its aim is to systematize or formulate certain doctrines, or at least to enumerate and define a number of scattered terms or categories of terms, occurring in the great books of dialogues and sundry discourse entitled the Nikayas of the Sutta Pitaka. The whole point of view, psychological and philosophical, adopted in them is, in our Manual, taken for granted. The technical. terms used in them are used in it as if its hearers, subsequently its readers, would at once recognise them. No one acquainted with those books, and with the DhammaSangani, will hesitate in placing the latter, in point of time, after the Nikayas.
On the other hand, the kind of questions raised in our Manual are on a different plane altogether from those raised in the third book in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, viz., the Kathi Vatthu, which we know to have been composed by Tissa at Patna, in the middle of the third century B.C.' The Dhamma-Sangani does not attempt to deal with any such advanced opinions and highly-elaborated points of doctrine as are put forward by those supposed opponents of the orthodox philosophy who are the interlocutors in the Katha Vatthu. It remains altogether, or almost altogether, at the old standpoint of the Nikayas as regards
Atthasalini, p. 3; Maha Bodhi Vansa, p. 110.
doctrine, differing only in method of treatment. The Katha Vatthu raises new questions belonging to a later stage in the development of the faith.
The Dhamma-Sangani is therefore younger than the Nikayas, and older than the Katha Vatthu. If we date it half-way between the two, that is, during the first third of the fourth century B.c. (contemporary, therefore, with the childhood of Aristotle, b. 384), we shall be on the safe side. But I am disposed to think that the interval between the completion of the Nikayas and the compilation of the Dhamma-Sangani is less than that between the latter work and the Katha Vatthu; and that our manual should therefore be dated rather at the middle than at the end of the fourth century B.C., or even earlier. However that may be, it is important for the historian of psychology to remember that the ideas it systematizes are, of course, older. Practically all of them go back to the time of the Buddha himself. Some of them are older still.
The history of the text of our Manual belongs to that of the canonical texts taken collectively. There are, however, two interesting references to it, apart from the general narrative, in the Maha Vansa, which show, at least, that the Dhamma-Sangani was by no means laid on the shelf among later Buddhists. King Kassapa V. of Ceylon (A.D. 929-939) had a copy of it engraved on gold plates studded with jewels, and took it in procession with great honour to a vihara he had built, and there offered flowers to it.1 Another King of Ceylon, Vijaya Bahu I. (A.D. 1065-1120), shut himself up every morning for a time against his people in the beautiful Hall of Exhortation, and there made. a translation of the Dhamma-Sangani, no doubt from Pali into Sinhalese.2
I can testify to the seriousness of the task, and feel a keen sympathy with my royal predecessor, and envy withal for his proximity in time and place to the seat of orthodox tradition. Nothing, unfortunately, is now known, so far
1 Mah., ch. 1., vers. 50, 51, 56. 2 Ibid., ch. lxx., ver. 17.