Reincarnation in World Thought [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 22 (3):585-585 (1969)

Abstract

This is an anthology and source book of ancient and modern, eastern and western, sophisticated and crackpot, pro and con writings on reincarnation. The selections are largely fragmentary with the editors' ample commentary offering some continuity. It is difficult to see how the coverage could be broader as it includes various myths of reincarnation, writings from scriptures and theological writings from the major world religions, a short section on reincarnation in Theosophy and Masonry, and anthropologists' reports on beliefs and traditions concerning reincarnation throughout the world. More than half the volume is taken up with fragments from western thinkers from the Presocratics to twentieth century scientists. Not surprisingly, these fragments are more from literary figures than from philosophers, although few of the great philosophers seemed able to keep entirely silent on the subject. Many, if not most, of the selections are too fragmentary to be interesting and often show little more than that the thinker in question had once or twice toyed with the idea of reincarnation. But this is a necessary aspect of the book's imposing breadth and its value as a reference work.--S. O. H.

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