Virtue in Buddhist Ethical Traditions

Authored by: Charles Goodman

The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  February  2015
Online publication date:  February  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415659338
eBook ISBN: 9780203071755
Adobe ISBN: 9781135096694

10.4324/9780203071755.ch7

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Abstract

The Buddhist tradition has historically had quite a bit to say about what constitutes human excellence, and about how to achieve it. The central concern of the tradition as a whole is how practitioners can transform themselves into wise and compassionate beings, free from emotional confusion and the misery it produces, and then help others to undergo a similar transformation. Several of the most important conceptual frameworks in Buddhist ethics, such as the Eightfold Path, the Ten Good Paths of Action, and the Ten Perfections, can be understood as enumerating virtues. Moreover, the transmission of Buddhism to lay people in Asia, including to each new generation, centrally involves narratives of extraordinary generosity and heroic self-sacrifice, often framed as J?takas, or descriptions of the past lives of the Buddha. Thus, analyses and exemplars of virtue play a crucial role in both intellectual and popular Buddhism.

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