[Buddha-l] Ethical Dilemmas
vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 12 04:05:59 MDT 2010
> Fortunately that would strike almost anyone as barbarious, which is a sign
> we have moved on. Yet at the same time, all proportions being kept, I can
> easily recognize the functioning of a legal justice system in this
> description. Especially legal systems where the death penalty is still
> active, and where certain groups of the population seem to be more present
> among the executed than others.
this sort of sloppy conflationaryism [to coin an ugly word] is a disservice,
and hinders rather than sharpens thinking. Without even getting into great
detail let me again simply invoke the distinction between innocent and
Bug exterminators, same thing?
At some level it may be important to examine the lines that run between
Aztec sacrifice and, for instance Vedic yajna, in which the sacrifice was
also envisioned as guaranteeing and furthering the continuance of the
culture and the cosmic order (Rta). Or, again, the apparent power of such
images -- such as a well known religion that centers itself on the bloody
execution of its deity, and places the death implement on buildings, in
buildings, around their neck, pantomiming it with their hands during prayer
or while repelling vampires.
Metaphors can be useful tools for thinking, but they can obscure as well. If
I really thought that you don't see the chasm of difference between the US
judicial system and the Aztecs' sacrificial system, I would bother to
explain that for you. Attali's musical metaphor has a certain appeal, but in
the end it seems to be more about cleverness than elucidation (I could be
All sorts of problems begin when metaphors are taken literally. Ethics, for
better or worse, has to deal primarily with the literal, not the
metaphorical. Both Derrida (in "White Mythology") and Sthiramati (in
Trimsika-bhasya to k.1) work hard to undermine the distinction between
literal and metaphorical, but they do so by treating such things carefully,
not by misleading conflations.
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