I think I've noticed some conceptual overlaps between Buddhism and Western Philosophy and Science. What are good sources for comparing and contrasting Western ideas and Buddhism? What are suspected sources of eastern ideas appearing in Western works?
I list some speculated commonalities below by my admittedly incomplete understanding. What knowledge I have of Buddhism primarily comes from books by Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Watts. I also attended Pure Land services for a while.
For example, Mindfulness has a bit in common with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Meta-Cognition. Mindfulness is, in part, awareness of ones thoughts. Meta-cognition is awareness and control of one's cognitive processes. One's thinking isn't dominated by random firing to which the thinker is oblivious.
The Second Nobel truth relates suffering to delusion, CBT relates emotional suffering to "Cognitive Distortions". These distortions are typically lack of present-mindedness, obsessing over past and future. They also involve a general failure to consider events in their full context.
'When Hamlet asks Rosencrantz and Guildenstern why they would volunteer to come to a prison, they respond that they don't think of Denmark as a prison. Hamlet explains, “[T]here is / nothing good or bad but thinking makes it / so.” '. Here the 'good' and 'bad' are pleasure and pain and the degree to which they are experienced. CBT says something similar- one has emotional suffering because of thinking one way about them as opposed to alternatives. Buddhism says suffering is due to various delusions. CBT faults "Cognitive Distortions".
In his The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde says, "To become a spectator of one's own life is to escape the suffering of life.” One can be self-aware, aware of oneself in a third person sense, and one can be aware of one self in the first person, as an 'I'. Here Wilde seems to be relating reduction of suffering with reducing ego. Just prior to writing this book, he wrote the forward to a friend's book on The Tao Te Ching. His line might also might touch upon a mindful self-awareness as well as a capacity to be amidst unfortunate events and yet not suffer, at least emotionally.
William Blake speaks of The Human Form Divine which seems to overlap with Blessed Human Existence. "To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour" speaks to a element of timelessness. Apparently Blake was familiar with Vedic works- Awakenings: Blake and the Buddha
More significantly, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics approaches ethics with an emphasis on character development as opposed to focusing on only individual acts. One is less ethical than ideal if one does the right things for the wrong reason, if they have the wrong motivation. Western philosophy categorizes ethical theories which emphasize character as Virtue Ethics. So both Aristotle and the Buddha would fall into this category. Also, Aristotle is notorious for advocating Moderation in All Things, similar to The Middle Way, very similar to the Dharma Seal - Nirvana is Beyond Extremes.
Buddhism also seems to have a lot in common with Stoicism which teaches something very similar to "All Emotions Are Pain"- The Second Seal of Dharma as discussed here by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Four Seals of Dharma.
Science strives to be objective and not subjective. A subjective experience is very personal, ego-centered. Personal stake in an experiment's outcome one tries to avoid. Go where the evidence leads and don't shoe horn it into a pet theory, which admittedly may be going on here. There are some elements of experience which are more or less universalizable. There's a distancing of ones understanding from the self or personal stakes. Data is assessed by means of an impersonal method of evaluation. One doesn't have a gut feeling that there is a correspondence in the data, one has methods for proving a correspondence with statistical significance, e.g. Statistical Hypothesis Testing.
Are these all just a coincidences? Superficial linguistic commonalities?
Are humans in touch with something that speaks to them about Buddhism regardless of their background? I've read that the Dharma is everywhere. Emerson speaks of The Oversoul like some speak of dharma.