Love: India’s Distinctive Moral Theory

In Adrienne M. Martin (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Love in Philosophy. New York: Routledge Handbooks in Philoso. pp. 371-381 (2018)
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Abstract

In addition to the familiar moral theories of Virtue Ethics, Consequentialism and Deontology, India presents us with one unique moral theory: it may be called “Yoga” (discipline, meditation) but also “Bhakti,” which is typically translated as “Devotion” but is also translated as “Love.” In this chapter, I focus on Bhakti, in its formal and informal manifestations in Indian philosophy. In order to understand how it is a distinct and basic option of moral theory, I will identify four basic options of moral theory by being explicit about my methodology in the study of philosophy. This allows us to appreciate how the Indian disagreements on moral theory contribute to a philosophical exploration of love. It will also help us appreciate how Yoga/Bhakti (Love) is a unique, basic theoretical option that treats love as the basic conception of morality. In providing such an account, Yoga/Bhakti elucidates the moral unity of a diverse range of concerns that we talk about with the English term “love,” including strong evaluation of things (“I love that song”), relationships of friendship, familial bonds, and the intimacy of sexual partners.

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Shyam Ranganathan
York University

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