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Universe and Inner Self in Early Indian and Early Greek Thought$
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Richard Seaford

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474410991

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410991.001.0001

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Rebirth and ‘ethicisation’ in Greek and South Asian thought

Rebirth and ‘ethicisation’ in Greek and South Asian thought

Chapter:
(p.220) 14 Rebirth and ‘ethicisation’ in Greek and South Asian thought
Source:
Universe and Inner Self in Early Indian and Early Greek Thought
Author(s):

Mikel Burley

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474410991.003.0015

This chapter engages with the theory of Gananath Obeyesekere to the effect that ethicised reincarnation derives from the ethicisation of existing rebirth beliefs. The theory, which applies primarily to South Asian traditions, assumes that a metaphysical conception of rebirth is logically and chronologically prior to any ethical outlook that accompanies it. Catherine Osborne on the other hand argues that it was the ethical outlook of certain Greek philosophers that generated their transmigration theories. But there need be no order of priority between metaphysics and ethics. Talk of a transition from non-ethicised to ethicised conceptions of rebirth should be replaced by considerations of transition from one kind of ethically imbued conception to another.

Keywords:   Reincarnation, Rebirth, Ethics, Metaphysics

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