[Buddha-l] a comparative study of ideas of 'reincarnation'--Not new but not mentioned here, far as I know

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Sat Oct 24 10:45:11 MDT 2009

The blurb mentions refs to such thinkers as Weber, Wittgenstein,
and Nietzsche.  I'd hope that the author, being Obeyesekere, also
invoked Freud. JK

Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist,
and Greek Rebirth (Paperback) by Gananath Obeyesekere. UCPress,
With Imagining Karma, Gananath Obeyesekere embarks on the very
first comparison of rebirth concepts across a wide range of
cultures. Exploring in rich detail the beliefs of small-scale
societies of West Africa, Melanesia, traditional Siberia, Canada,
and the northwest coast of North America, Obeyesekere compares
their ideas with those of the ancient and modern Indic
civilizations and with the Greek rebirth theories of Pythagoras,
Empedocles, Pindar, and Plato. His groundbreaking and
authoritative discussion decenters the popular notion that India
was the origin and locus of ideas of rebirth. As Obeyesekere
compares responses to the most fundamental questions of human
existence, he challenges readers to reexamine accepted ideas
about death, cosmology, morality, and eschatology.
Obeyesekere's comprehensive inquiry shows that diverse societies
have come through independent invention or borrowing to believe
in reincarnation as an integral part of their larger cosmological
systems. The author brings together into a coherent
methodological framework the thought of such diverse thinkers as
Weber, Wittgenstein, and Nietzsche. In a contemporary
intellectual context that celebrates difference and cultural
relativism, this book makes a case for disciplined comparison, a
humane view of human nature, and a theoretical understanding of
"family resemblances" and differences across great cultural

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