Thursday, January 12, 2012



“Buddhism is often said to be a kind of middle path between two extremes. A number of different pairs of opposing extreme views are identified in the tradition, but one such pair is frequently singled out for special emphasis, namely that of eternalism and annihilationism. Eternalism is the view that there is an eternal self, and thus that rebirth is transmigration. Annihilationism is usually portrayed as the view that the self ceases to exist at the end of a single lifetime. Eternalism is said to have the normative consequence that since one will deserve the karmic fruits reaped in the next life from one’s present deeds, we all have a reason to act in accordance with the karmic moral rules. Annihilationism, by contrast, is said to result in a radical antinomianism: since there can be no karmic retribution beyond this present life, one has no reason to act morally where doing so involves sacrificing one’s own immediate gratification. Both views are, the Buddhist claims, false because of their shared presupposition that a self exists. Yet some of the normative consequences of eternalism must be preserved, since belief in the karmic moral order is required if persons are to progress toward enlightenment.” Siderits 1997.

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