Common assumptions about the Middle Way
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This quiz is intended for newcomers to thinking about the Middle Way and its significance. It offers you a series of statements about the Middle Way, some of which are misconceptions, and asks you to identify which ones are correct and which are misconceptions.
All the questions require binary choices between ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’. A ‘correct’ answer here should be understood as a helpful answer within the terms of the Middle Way perspective coherently understood, rather than as an ultimately true answer. After completing the quiz you will be able to see brief explanations of incorrect answers by clicking ‘view questions’.
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Question 1 of 10
The Middle Way means compromise.Correct
The Middle Way may mean compromise, but does not necessarily do so. It requires you to find an experientially helpful way between opposed absolutes, which may involve the recognition that one position is generally right and another wrong – just not absolutely so.
Question 2 of 10
The Middle Way is just common sense.Correct
The Middle Way may coincide with Common Sense. But if ‘common sense’ means what people generally believe, it may also challenge ‘common sense’ when common sense assumes an absolute position.
Question 3 of 10
The Middle Way cannot be absolute.Correct
The Middle Way cannot be absolute because it involves practice, and any practical response which is absolute will cease in practice to be the Middle Way (even if it appropriates those words).Incorrect
The Middle Way cannot be absolute because it involves practice, and any practical response which is absolute will cease in practice to be the Middle Way (even if it appropriates those words).
Question 4 of 10
The Middle Way can be applied to any judgement.Correct
The Middle Way is a principle of judgement that can be applied on any occasion, no matter what the topic. Any judgement can be absolutised or provisional.
Question 5 of 10
The Middle Way is atheistic.Correct
The Middle Way does not involve denying the existence of God. That would involve taking a negative metaphysical position.
Question 6 of 10
The Middle Way was only revealed to the Buddha.Correct
The Middle Way is a principle of judgement available to everyone and practicable to some degree by everyone. If the Buddhist scriptures are to be believed, the Buddha understood it well, but this does not make him the only person to do so. Nor is the Middle Way ‘revealed’: it can only be understood to a certain degree in relation to experience.
Question 7 of 10
The Middle Way rejects metaphysics (or absolutes) as meaningless.Correct
The Middle Way does not reject metaphysics as meaningless, because its embodied perspective requires us to recognise as meaningful any concept we can relate to, to any degree. Metaphysical claims can be meaningful but not justified in experience.
Question 8 of 10
The Middle Way requires an embodied perspective.Correct
The Middle Way requires an embodied perspective, because it is only by ignoring embodiment that anyone could justify an abstract absolute belief.
Question 9 of 10
The Middle Way is compatible with scientific method.Correct
The Middle Way is compatible with scientific method, as long as this is interpreted as involving provisional beliefs always subject to revision from experience.
Question 10 of 10
The Middle Way is idealist.Correct
The Middle Way is not idealist, because idealism involves believing that the physical world does not exist. This would be a negative metaphysical belief for which we have no justification.