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Harari (2011) claims:

Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known.

From my limited understanding of Buddhism, the above seems false of Buddhism.

I was hoping an expert on Buddhism could give a more definite explanation as to whether the above statement has any truth. (Restrict attention to the bit about Buddhism.)

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The buddha said that some people found the truth before him, but of coure most people didn't

“In the same way, I had now arrived at the ancient way of the noble ones, the ancient path of the noble ones, the ancient way trodden by the noble ones, along which passed the noble ones of ancient times, and which I should now follow, namely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right skilful means (effort), right mindfulness, right concentration.

https://suttacentral.net/sa287/en/choong

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I would say that Buddhism asserts that everything that is important to know about the world (including the body and the mind), with regards to suffering and freedom from suffering, was already known.

These are known as the three marks of existence (tilakkhaṇa):

  • sabbe saṅkhārā aniccā — "all saṅkhāras (conditioned things) are impermanent"
  • sabbe saṅkhārā dukkhā — "all saṅkhāras are suffering"
  • sabbe dhammā anattā — "all dharmas (conditioned or unconditioned things) are not self"

But outside of the context of suffering and freedom from suffering, Buddhism does not make the claim that everything that is important to know about the world was already known.

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Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known.

The above is missing an important context: known by whom? Regarding worldly knowledge, this is what the Buddha said:

Once the Blessed One was staying at Kosambi in the simsapa1 forest. Then, picking up a few simsapa leaves with his hand, he asked the monks, "What do you think, monks: Which are more numerous, the few simsapa leaves in my hand or those overhead in the simsapa forest?"

"The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, lord. Those overhead in the simsapa forest are more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them. ~~ SN 56.31 ~~

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Yes, everything IMPORTANT to know is discovered and realized by Buddha and Arahants.

It is like a skillful engineer or scientist have no secret in any type of machine from past present or future, he/she knows the basics philosophy behind it and how it works.

As an Arahant you know what created everything and you don’t need details of everything to understand it.

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