Believing in Reincarnation

Philosophy 87 (2):261-279 (2012)
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Is it absurd to believe that, in the absence of bodily continuity, personal identity could be retained? Bernard Williams argued for an affirmative answer to this question partly on the basis of a well-known thought experiment. Some other philosophers, including D. Z. Phillips, have accepted, or appear to have accepted, Williams' conclusion.Yet the argument has the consequence of dismissing as absurd the sorts of reincarnation beliefs which, within their proper contexts, have a meaningful role in the lives of many millions of people. Drawing upon philosophical work by David Cockburn, and also on anthropological studies concerning reincarnation beliefs, this paper questions the extent to which ostensibly meaningful beliefs can be deemed unintelligible in the absence of careful attention to their cultural contexts



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Mikel Burley
University of Leeds

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Culture and Value.Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. H. Von Wright, Heikki Nymam & Peter Winch - 1982 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 15 (1):70-73.

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