In the first part of the paper, I argue that Christians should incorporate the theory of reincarnation into their belief system. The problem of the apparent disproportion between finite human sin and infinite punishment in Hell becomes far more tractable against the background of reincarnation. In the second part of the paper, I address and answer three objections that may be raised against a Christian theory of reincarnation. The first objection is based on the role of memory (...) in identity, the second points to the essential unity of body and soul, and the third revolves around the suggestion that living multiple lives may more easily lead to damnation than to salvation. (shrink)
It has been observed, by D. Z. Phillips among others, that philosophy suffers from a “lack of imagination”. That is, philosophers often fail to see possibilities of sense in forms of life and discourse due to narrow habits of thinking. This is especially problematic in the philosophy of religion, not least when cross-cultural modes of inquiry are called for. This article examines the problem in relation to the philosophical investigation of reincarnation beliefs in particular. As a remedial strategy, I (...) argue for increased attention both to ethnographic sources and to the articulation of distinctively religious moral visions that reincarnation-talk facilitates. (shrink)
Reincarnation has received substantial treatment in African philosophy. The dominant view of African scholars and researchers on the subject is that it is a belief that prevails in African culture. The task of this paper is to revisit Innocent Onyewuenyi’s “philosophical reappraisal” of this African belief. Onyewuenyi’s position is that the African communion with ancestors and their influence on their living descendant’s has been incorrectly labeled “reincarnation” by Western anthropologists. But whereas Onyewuenyi portrays the problem as being one (...) of semantics, I shall in this paper argue that the challenge of explaining African cultural phenomenon is one of hermeneutics. The question is a question of hermeneutics, because its focus is not on whether ancestors are metaphysical entities, but rather on what they mean within African existence. The paper adopts the conversational method of African philosophy endorsed by the Conversational School of Philosophy. It aims to show how conversationalism as a procedure of philosophical discourse plays out within the context of its specific canons. In the final analysis the paper promotes the thesis that there is not a belief in reincarnation in African culture strictly speaking, but a belief in the regeneration of life. For the African, life is not cyclical, it is rather eternal. Keywords: Innocent Onyewuenyi, reincarnation, conversationalism, hermeneutics, African metaphysics, living-dead, regeneration of life. (shrink)
The doctrine of reincarnation is usually associated with Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions. But it has also been developed in Druzism and Judaism. The doctrine has been used by these traditions to explain the existence of evil within a moral order. Traversing the boundaries between East and West, we explore how Jewish mysticism has employed the doctrine to help answer the problem of evil. We explore the doctrine particularly as we respond to objections against employing it in a (...) theodicy. We show how it supplements traditional punishment, free will and soul-building theodicies, and helps these theodicies avoid various objections. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This article argues that Laszlo's concept of the Akashic Field (A-field) does not render the concept of reincarnation either redundant or unnecessary, that reincarnation is a fact of nature, something the universe is doing at this stage of its evolution. Not only is Laszlo's theory compatible with the concept of rebirth, it actually strengthens that theory by clarifying some of the processes involved. This article presents a rationale for the belief that through reincarnation the universe is giving (...) birth to a transpersonal individuality that does endure outside space-time and is not dissolved back into the quantum vacuum. (shrink)
This paper is a rejoinder to Robert Almeder's "On Reincarnation: A Reply to Hales". I argue that even if we stipulate the case studies of the reincarnationists to be good data, the explanatory hypothesis of reincarnation is a deus ex machina. Without a comprehensive scientific or philosophical theory of the mind that embeds the reincarnation hypothesis, the view should not be taken seriously. The fact that reincarnation is the first explanation of the case studies that comes (...) to mind says more about us and our culture than it does about which explanations are the most probable ones. (shrink)
What I aim to develop in this paper is a secular foundation to the concept of reincarnation that is consistent with the different ways in which this concept is understood across a number of Buddhist traditions, drawing in particular upon the doctrinal understanding of reincarnation in the Mahāyāna or Madhyamaka tradition as presented in the work of Śāntideva and Nāgārjuna.
This article reviews the research of “top rebirth scientist” Ian Stevenson on spontaneous past-life memory cases, focusing on three key problems with Stevenson’s work. First, his research of entirely anecdotal case reports contains a number of errors and omissions. Second, like other reincarnation researchers, Stevenson has done no controlled experimental work on such cases; yet only such research could ever resolve whether the correspondences found between a child’s statements and a deceased person’s life exceed what we might find by (...) chance. Finally, the best reincarnation research should at least meet the standards met by typical empirical research, but Stevenson’s methodology does not even meet the standards expected of third- or fourth-year college students. -/- 1. How Controlled Experimental Work is Possible -- 2. The Anecdotal Record - 2.1 Reincarnation and Biology - 2.2 The Imad Elawar Case -- 3. Conclusion. (shrink)
Reincarnation has not been entirely neglected in the philosophy of religion but it has not always been taken seriously or carefully discussed in relation to its role in believers’ lives. John Hick is exceptional insofar as he gave sustained attention to the belief, at least as it features in the philosophies of Vedānta and Buddhism. While acknowledging the value of Hick’s recognition of the variety of reincarnation beliefs, this article critically engages with certain aspects of his approach. It (...) argues that Hick’s search for a ‘criterion’ of reincarnation is misguided, and that his distinction between ‘factual’ and ‘mythic’ forms of the doctrine is over-simplifying. (shrink)
The doctrine of reincarnation is endorsed by various philosophers in both the Western and Eastern traditions. This paper will explore the relationship between reincarnation and legal punishment. Three competing views of reincarnation will be analyzed on this issue: Plato's work on Socrates, the Bhagavad Gita, and Mahayana Buddhism. Each view presents interesting, but different perspectives on how our view of the person might affect how we punish. The paper will claim that there are practical implications on the (...) administration of justice linked witli each view of reincarnation. Rather than an area we should neglect, perhaps we miglit improve our understanding of punishment in our societj' when we better account for the beliefs held by members of the society. Key words: Buddhism, death, Hinduism, Mahayana, Plato, punishment, reincarnation, Socrates Then the Lord said, 'Now that the man has become as we are, knowing good from bad, what i f he eats the fruit of the Tree of Life and lives forever?' Genesis 4:22. (shrink)
Mental health practitioners often come across a number of challenges in their clinical practice. One such challenge that posed a management dilemma presented with the history of reincarnation. This subject has been discussed in non-scientific literature at length but there is an absolute paucity in scientific literature. This paper describes a case where a boy presented with memories of previous life that started haunting him and caused significant anxiety. The subject of reincarnation needs extensive research in order to (...) understand and manage the resultant clinical challenges. (shrink)
In ‘Reincarnation and Relativized Identity’ 1 J. J. MacIntosh argues that reincarnation is impossible. I wish to make a slightly backhanded defence of reincarnation by showing that MacIntosh's argument does not succeed. I do not follow his recipe for defence of reincarnation exactly.
Man has always hoped to survive his bodily death, and it is a central tenet of many religions that such survival is a reality. It has been supposed by many that one form such survival might take is reincarnation in another body. Subscribers to this view include Pythagoras, Plato sometimes, and a large number of Eastern thinkers. Other thinkers have, of course, disputed that reincarnation is a fact, and some have even denied that it is a possibility. But (...) seldom has it been claimed by its opponents that reincarnation is a logical impossibility. (shrink)
In Religious Studies xxvi Harold W. Noonan and Charles B. Daniels severally take issue with my ‘Reincarnation and Relativized Identity’. Both make valuable points but both, I think, have somewhat missed the point of my original article. In that paper I singled out five different views on the possibility of life after death: that we are reincarnated in the self-same body we had in our pre-mortem state; that we are reincarnated in another — in a different — body; that (...) we continue to exist in a disembodied form, which may or may not culminate in re-embodiment; that pre-mortem life is a dream from which postmortem life is the awakening; that none of the above holds: there is no life after death. (shrink)
In African metaphysics, with special reference to Yoruba thought, human destiny, reincarnation, and personal identity constitute some of the major philosophical concerns. Given that man is trimorphously considered a composite of body , soul and inner-head , the last is the metaphysical symbol of human destiny which externally is represented by the physical head. The three elements are classifiable into physical and metaphysical entities with êmi and ori taken to be immortal. Do these metaphysical entities reincarnate and in what (...) way? This paper tries to show that the problem of personal identity and reincarnation are inconclusively resolved in Yoruba thought. (shrink)
Bad Karma: Thinking Twice About the Social Consequences of Reincarnation Theory is a cautionary study set in the context of the history of ideas. The book analyzes the doctrines of both reincarnation and karma, reviews their history in India, and the emergences of reincarnation doctrine in the West. The thesis of the book is that rising popularity of reincarnation theory in American culture poses a significant danger.
I attempt to show that a cosmic theistic scheme that includes multiple lives as part of a benign plan for the world is likely to be the most moral scheme. It has the best chance of dealing with key aspects of the problem of evil, or of apparent cosmic injustice – particularly when compared to a single-life scheme. Its advantages have to do with the initial disparate condition of children, and with the massive nature of undeserved harm. A multiple-lives scheme (...) is also promising for handling broader meaning of life questions. I end by replying to some common objections to multiple-lives schemes. (shrink)
There are five main claims that may be made about life after death: We are reincarnated in the self-same body we had in life. We are reincarnated in another body. We are revived, or continue to live in a disembodied form.
There are significant numbers of well-documented cases of the following general kind. At the age of 3 or 4 a child starts to make claims about his past which clearly do not correspond to anything that has happened in his present life. He claims to remember living in a certain place, doing certain things, being with certain people, and so on. It is then found that these memory claims fit the life of a person who died shortly before the child (...) was born. The accuracy of the memory claims is striking and there seems to be no possible normal explanation of this. The child also has certain character traits, interests and skills which correspond closely to those of the one who died; and, perhaps, a physical characteristic, such as a birthmark or wound, which closely resembles a characteristic of the earlier individual. (shrink)
It seems that fearing the death and believing in an almost endless cycle of rebirths is a paradox, but in India it is an actual attitude of the majority of religious local creeds. The painful ways in which death happens, the frightening netherworld in which the dead must be punished, the sad missing of one’s family and friends, the uncertainty of the new form in which the imperishable soul might dwell in its new life, all these are the basic elements (...) of such a fear. Therefore the solution can be seen only in nirvāṇa, i.e. to be extinguished or not to go any longer. (shrink)