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Origins of research methodology, Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths


Laksiri Fernando

University of Colombo, LK
About Laksiri

Former Senior Professor,
Department of Political Science and Public Policy

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Emerging academic studies addressing the interface between Buddhism and modern science is the ‘major premise’ of this research article. However, when the similarities so far uncovered are closely observed, they mostly belong to findings or theories and not so much on the overall methodology. Based on those studies as well as independent research, this article proposes that there is much to learn from Buddhism for modern day research methodology, particularly in the Social Sciences sphere. The article demonstrates that particularly the Four Noble Truths (Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta in Sutta-pitaka) constitute a framework for research designing, investigation and particularly problem solving: Dukkha as problem identification, Samudaya as causal investigation, Nirodha as possible or required solutions and Magga as recommendations or pathways for desired solutions. The other two methodological components identified and discussed in this investigation are the importance of independent observation (Kalama-sutta) and dialectical causality or dependent origination/arising (Paticcasamuppada). The article concludes that if the methodology of the Four Noble Truths is important in uncovering and investigating new knowledge, the guidelines in Kalama-sutta are important in verifying and accepting or rejecting existing knowledge. On the other hand, the ‘dependent origination’ is most fundamental to any complex social research or investigation.
How to Cite: Fernando, L., 2017. Origins of research methodology, Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences, 39(2), pp.57–68. DOI:
Published on 30 Jan 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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