Reincarnation and the Lack of Imagination in Philosophy

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Mikel Burley


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.

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reincarnation; rebirth; imagination; religion; ethnography; Phillips D. Z.; Wittgenstein Ludwig