Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

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OUP Oxford, Jun 23, 2005 - Religion - 168 pages
2 Reviews
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The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed a growing interest in Buddhism, and it continues to capture the imagination of many in the West who see it as either an alternative or a supplement to their own religious beliefs. Numerous introductory books have appeared in recent years to cater for this growing interest, but almost none devotes attention to the specifically ethical dimension of the tradition. For complex cultural and historical reasons, ethics has not received as much attention in traditional Buddhist thought as it has in the West, and publications on the subject are few and far between. Here, Damien Keown, author of Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction , illustrates how Buddhism might approach a range of fascinating moral issues ranging from abortion and suicide to cloning. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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This is a very useful introductory book for anyone who is interested in Buddhist ethics, its principles and sources, and the answers it gives to some of the most pressing ethical questions of today. The first couple of chapters are dedicated to the historical origins and basic principles of Buddhist ethics. The bulk of the book, however, is aimed at someone who is already familiar with Western ethical traditions, and tries to show how the Buddhist teachings relate to those. In particular, the questions of animal and environmental rights, sexuality, war and terrorism, suicide and euthanasia, and cloning each get a separate chapter. In these chapters the naive impression of Buddhism as a very laid-back and permissive ethical tradition is challenged, and the author shows that the basic answers to those ethical dilemmas in Buddhism are not that far away from similar answers given in theJudeo-Christian ethics.
Overall, this is a very enlightening and informative reading. I highly recommend it.

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - signature103 - LibraryThing

Bit disappointed about the bias towards Mahayana Buddhism. Read full review


List of illustrations
1 Buddhist morality
2 Ethics East and West
3 Animals and the environment
4 Sexuality
5 War and terrorism
6 Abortion
7 Suicide and euthanasia
8 Cloning
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About the author (2005)

Damien Keown is Reader in Buddhism at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His entire academic career has been devoted to research in Buddhist ethics, and he has been teaching the subject for over 20 years. He is also Editor of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and Coeditor of The Curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism series.

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