Buddhist wisdom and modernization: finding the balance in globalized Thailand

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This paper examines the relationship between wisdom and knowledge under globalization and the potential in Thailand to balance old knowledge traditions, Buddhist and rural, with new Thai and imported knowledge. It investigates the Theravadan Buddhist approach to the cultivation of wisdom and, in parallel, the engagement of the Kingdom of Thailand in its bringing of modern knowledge and capitalist economic practices into Thailand, and its efforts to ?nd balance between the old and the new. Consideration of the ?ndings has facilitated the development of a theoretical understanding of how old and new knowledge regimes co-exist in Thailand. The ?ndings suggest that there has been a shift in understanding of panjaathaangloog (worldly wisdom) and the various types of knowledge that supports it, from being strongly shaped by the religious framework of Buddhism to becoming a secular framework supported by a secular Thai education system and an unmediated in?ux of imported knowledge. The challenge for Thai people is how to negotiate such a shift. The pressing concern is that these newer understandings are, as yet, `unsettled? as reliable signposts to enlightenment and to becoming a wise person, and the knowledge of the old pathway is in danger of being forgotten.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635 - 650
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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