From: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AwakeningToReality/posts/25468433356104754/?__cft__[0]=AZWn5BcNlBzxvadefdYZz8QD_yc5YjBCRi6VEIqVXLAUO2ejTQ-qOKDIVdeXzqXJBHh6CLZFEW-aZdj5LQojucGiR94JITsvvRSqcpwMF7zGvat8_lNiwlAt6aL1Wf6e9MxlnrPeU33-K731izBSRLMSGaR8R9e5lXMmsg6C0xhS1A&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R



Preston Putzel
Top contributor
If they all were under the same post criticizing ATR, then probably that post alone is the issue. Nobody but Soh was allowed to post there by the filter. BTW I also tried to criticize carbon dating lol. It's a very naive idea.
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Alexander Samarth
I guess the algorithm had a point there...
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Chris Jones
Top contributor
Preston Putzel see the following comment from krodha regarding the carbon dating of Mahayana sutras: https://www.reddit.com/.../comments/1ckgcux/comment/l2xh5ot/
Carbon dating isn't a guarantee that the oral traditions originated at similar times, but then again, it also doesn't guarantee that the oral tradition the Pali suttas were based on came before Mahayana. So it is pointless to discuss. Carbon dating is the best evidence we have.
Further, in Mahayana the historical Buddha is not the only Buddha, so it doesn't actually matter. What's important is that a text corresponds to the views of Buddhadharma.
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Mike King
Author
Rising contributor
Chris Jones Agreed that carbon dating is pointless, but a rough chronology can be worked out from the content. The suttas that are likely memorized by Ananda (in the four major Nikayas, the Udana and the Itivuttaka) have an authentic character to them as based on actual events. None of the Mahayana sutras, whatever their merits, have that quality.
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Alexander Samarth
Yeah, I don't think the dating is disputed much, and carbon dating was never really part of it.
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Preston Putzel
Top contributor
Kyle's arguments about carbon dating are very weak. He basically refuses to use any tools of early buddhist studies, besides the one he likes, carbon dating. He says all the techniques are bad, but his technique is the best we have. This is just cherry picking the evidence. It's easy to win an argument when you take off the table all methods that disagree with you by dismissing them as speculative nonsense. Relying on carbon dating actually is speculative nonsense. You simply can't judge the age of content transmitted orally (pali canon) by the time it was written down.
The reality is that carbon dating is less reliable than the other methods used in early buddhist studies which focus on analysis of content, comparison between agamas and sutta, analysis of the language, analysis of metre, analysis of structure of the texts etc etc.
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Chris Jones
Top contributor
What are these indisputable, non-speculative methods that he dismisses?
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Preston Putzel
Top contributor
Chris Jones Those aren't my words at all.
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Chris Jones
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Mike King I didn’t mean that carbon dating was pointless, what I meant was that we simply don’t have any definitive evidence about when the oral traditions began, the only thing we have to go on is what’s been written down and when. Carbon dating is one way of determining that.
So your argument boils down to the idea that the suttas have an “authentic character” to them, which is entirely subjective. Hopefully you are aware that we can’t definitively determine the authenticity of a text from its content. What makes the content of the Pali suttas any more “authentic” than the content of the Mahayana sutras? The fact that it describes events relating to Gautama Buddha’s life? They just have a different presentation, context, and purpose.
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Preston Putzel
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Anyways, to be clear all the method of analysis in early buddhism are not absolutely certain mathematical proofs. They all involve some degree of uncertainty. This doesn't mean that they are bullshit. For instance, the foundations of science and engineering often depend on probabilistic reasoning. These are not bullshit either.
There is a difference between a valid argument which has some uncertainty about it and a very poor argument which has no grounded evidence for it. In fields like early buddhist studies most arguments have some degree of uncertainty.This doesn't mean 'anything goes', and it certainly doesn't mean carbon dating can be applied to an oral tradition to determine it's age.
Some arguments in early buddhism are bullshit though, not denying that. But more grounded approaches exist. As for what they are I already listed 4 examples of different kinds of approaches. I don't really feel like going into detail here about them, but for one example-we can analyze the metres deployed in a text to date them since some forms of poetic metre simply don't exist until after a certain date. Another more welll-known example-we can compare the content of different schools an see what is the same and what is different. What is the same is more likely to be earlier and presectarian. We can also compare content-if a doctrine in one text is described briefly but in another we get a long elaboration then it's more likely the elaboration comes later as a commentary or an expansion of the shorter text.
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Alexander Samarth
A lot more than you seem to think can be determined from text, there's a lot that goes into that...
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Chris Jones
Top contributor
Preston Putzel feel free to correct it as you see fit, I believe your words were “take off the table all methods that disagree with you by dismissing them as speculative nonsense”, so it seemed like you were implying there were other methods, which are not speculative, that you had in mind? Otherwise I suppose we would be in agreement that carbon dating is just as effective as any other method.
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Chris Jones
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Alexander Samarth I didn’t say we can’t determine anything from text, I said that we can’t definitively determine the authenticity of the Pali (or Mahayana sutras) from their content alone. Otherwise, this debate would have been over a long time ago.
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Alexander Samarth
I agree, but we can determine there's like a thousand year difference between the bulk of the two, a century give or take.
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Mike King
Author
Rising contributor
Chris Jones Agreed that my approach is "subjective." It is based on meeting living enlightened ones, and reading the lives of far more others. They all speak in a certain way, have teachings in common, and above all interact with their interlocuters in a certain way. In addition there is contextual detail, such as descriptions of places, persons and events. Even the fact that the Buddha coughs politely before entering a bikkhus hut. The Pali suttas I list all ring true on those counts.
In contrast the Mahayana sutras are lacking in contextual detail, have teachings that contradict what is in the Pali suttas, are heavily mythologised and full of archetypal imagary entirely lacking in the Pali serious suttas.
So agreed, all of this is "subjective". So let us be content to identify our thinking as "Pali" on the one hand and "Mahayana" on the other, as we engage in dharma talk. We will still gain by it.
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Chris Jones
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Preston Putzel I think you are putting words in my mouth because I didn’t call these methods bullshit, nor did I say that carbon dating can be used to determine the age of an oral tradition. They just have to be taken in context and their respective purposes understood.
Even if we know one text is a commentary of another, we can’t say that the “original” text comes from the Buddha in the first place. It could be one witness of an event describing it in detail, and another witness of the same event describing it briefly. We still can’t determine from this *when* the original text was written, nor the commentary, and this says even less about the oral tradition. The text and it’s commentary could have been written at the same time, for all we know. Unless of course we use carbon dating.
Also hopefully you can see the problem with “grouping” texts from different schools based on their content and then using this to make assumptions on the age or authenticity of said schools. If we have two groups of similar texts, they could just be from different authors (disciples of the Buddha, for example) from around the same time who have their own unique writing styles. They could be similar for all kinds of reasons. This is by no means proof of authenticity or age.
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Alexander Samarth
I think we should be speaking of "evidence" rather than "proof".
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Preston Putzel
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Chris Jones I wasn't implying you said anything was BS, but Kyle does seem to dismiss these things. Anyways, at the end of the day I really don't care that much about this topic. If people want to believe prajnaparamitra is the same age as the suttas, fine. That's definitely an extreme minority view among academics afaik, but my concern really is practice and liberation.
I only responded to Kyle's stuff at all out of irritation that such unfair reasoning was being repeated again and again. This argument from carbon dating is being used to combat 'pali canon fundamentalism'. I can be on board with criticizing that at least, but I would prefer better arguments were used.
So that's all from me.
Preston Putzel
Top contributor
Chris Jones
Top contributor
Mike King I am of course happy to make the distinction between Pali/Theravada and Mahayana views, and do.
Unrelated, but this group primarily consists of Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners, FWIW. You may have met people you believed were “enlightene… 
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Chris Jones
Top contributor
Preston Putzel If you mean the written sutras and not the oral tradition, there’s not much debate about when they were written down. The margin of error for radiocarbon dating is about 2-5%. That’s what I was trying to point out. But I don’t really need to labour the point further.