Sophia 57 (2):211-231 (2018)

Authors
Oren Hanner
New York University, Abu Dhabi
Abstract
Derek Parfit’s early work on the metaphysics of persons has had a vast influence on Western philosophical debates about the nature of personal identity and moral theory. Within the study of Buddhism, it also has sparked a continuous comparative discourse, which seeks to explicate Buddhist philosophical principles in light of Parfit’s conceptual framework. Examining important Parfitian-inspired studies of Buddhist philosophy, this article points out various ways in which a Parfitian lens shaped, often implicitly, contemporary understandings of the anātman doctrine and its relation to Buddhist ethics. I discuss in particular three dominant elements appropriated by Parfitian-inspired scholarship: Parfit’s theoretical categories; philosophical problems raised by his reductionist theory of persons; and Parfit’s argumentative style. I argue that the three elements used in this scholarship constitute different facets of one methodological approach to cross-cultural philosophy, which relies on Western terminology and conceptual schemes to establish a conversation with non-Western philosophy. I suggest that while this methodology is fruitful in many ways, philosophy as a cosmopolitan space may benefit significantly from approaching Buddhist philosophy using its own categories and terminology.
Keywords Buddhist ethics  Comparative philosophy  Derek Parfit  Reductionism  Śāntideva
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-018-0668-3
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References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Personal Identity.Derek Parfit - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (January):3-27.

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