[Buddha-l] Re: Karma and ethics [was: angels]

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Fri May 27 19:05:33 MDT 2005

On Fri, 2005-05-27 at 18:37 -0400, Eric Nelson wrote:

> I might be mistaken but didn't earlier generations from Paul Carus to
> David Kalupahana suggest that Buddhist ethics is utilitarian?

I don't know, but it would not surprise me at all, given the kinds of
convictions (and prejudices) each of these men had. My own prejudice,
just to get it out on the table, is that one is best advised simply to
describe what Buddhists had to say about karma and to forget about
trying to put it into one or another of the categories (eudaemonian,
deontological, utilitarian, situational, etc) that have been used to
describe ethical theories in the West. 

Something that has long fascinated me is that Indian philosophers put
huge amounts of energy into sorting out metaphysical and epistemological
and linguistic issues but next to no energy into sorting out ethical
theories. Buddhist ethics, at least in India, strikes me as quite
primitive. (I use that term not pejoratively but actually as a virtue.)

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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