Abstract

This essay explores the concepts of karma and rebirth in the light of some key themes from the later work of Wittgenstein. After clarifying what it means to “bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use” it is considered how certain Wittgenstein-influenced philosophers, notably İlham Dilman and D. Z. Phillips, have sought to recover the meaning of “soul” from metaphysical misappropriations by invoking Wittgenstein’s notion of a “picture” The sort of conceptual recovery involved in this task resembles, in some respects, the “demythologizing” and “psychologizing” approaches of certain interpreters of the doctrine of karma and rebirth, especially within the context of Buddhist studies. Illustrative examples of these approaches are compared and contrasted and discussed in relation to instances of individuals articulating their belief in karma and rebirth. On the basis of this discussion, it is concluded that the interpretive approaches in question fail to account for the sense of individual responsibility for one’s own present circumstances that is central to how talk of karma and rebirth frequently operates “in the stream of thought and life.”

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 965-982
Launched on MUSE
2014-11-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.