C. J. Ducasse is Professor of Philosophy at Brown University. He is an intelligent man, but a rationalist at heart. Reading between the lines of his letter I suspect (as anticipated) that he strongly disapproves of the Notes. It is quite true that they are extremely difficult to follow if one is not acquainted with the Pali texts, but Ducasse is a professional philosopher and cannot be quite unaware of the general intention of the Notes. In the Preface I make not one but two assumptions about the reader, and the second one is that he is concerned about his own welfare. But I fancy that Ducasse is not concerned about his own welfare (for the rationalist it is an incomprehensible attitude), and, though he excuses himself from understanding the book on the ground that he is not familiar with the texts, the real reason is that he has no wish to understand it. If this were not so he would have said something to the effect that he much regretted that his unfamiliarity with the texts had prevented him from understanding as much as he would have liked of such a thought-provoking book, etc., etc. But he is, unfortunately, too polite to say what he really thinks about the Notes, which I had hoped that he might.
This is the first expression of opinion (at least by implication) from a university don. I am inclined to think that this will be the normal academic reaction to the Notes. Are we perhaps to interpret the silence from Peradeniya as indication that the dons there agree with Ducasse, but don't have the excuse of unfamiliarity with the texts, and so prefer to say nothing rather than admit that they are not really interested? Or am I doing them an injustice? Good will is the first requisite for understanding the Notes.
[85.1] Peradeniya: The University of Peradeniya, near Kandy, is the centre of Buddhist scholarship in Sri Lanka. [Back to text]