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Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – September 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195678702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195678703
  • ASIN: 019280457X
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 4.8 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Damien Keown is Reader in Buddhism at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His books on Buddhism include Dictionary of Buddhism and uddhism, A Very Short Introduction. He is also Editor of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and Coeditor of The Curzon Critical Studies in Buddhism series.

More About the Author

Damien Keown is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research interests centre on the study of contemporary moral problems from a Buddhist perspective. He is co-founder of The Journal of Buddhist Ethics and the author of the best-selling 'Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction' and 'Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction', both from Oxford University Press and also available on Amazon.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on February 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful introductory book for anyone who is interested in Buddhist ethics, its principles and sources, and the answers it gives to some of the most pressing ethical questions of today. The first couple of chapters are dedicated to the historical origins and basic principles of Buddhist ethics. The bulk of the book, however, is aimed at someone who is already familiar with Western ethical traditions, and tries to show how the Buddhist teachings relate to those. In particular, the questions of animal and environmental rights, sexuality, war and terrorism, suicide and euthanasia, and cloning each get a separate chapter. In these chapters the naive impression of Buddhism as a very laid-back and permissive ethical tradition is challenged, and the author shows that the basic answers to those ethical dilemmas in Buddhism are not that far away from similar answers given in theJudeo-Christian ethics.

Overall, this is a very enlightening and informative reading. I highly recommend it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By laurens van den muyzenberg on July 9, 2013
Format: Paperback
The main part of this book presents a diversity of views of different Buddhists about sexuality, just war, terrorism, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, cloning and stem cells. The description of Buddhism s such covers only twenty pages. This is not a book for beginners. In order to evaluate these different views the readers need considerable knowledge about Buddhism. Just to take one example, the concept of "emptiness." This is a very important subject difficult to understand. "Emptiness" refers to the concept that nothings exists without a cause, that nothing is permanent, that everything is interdependent, in other words there exists nothing "on its own" usually referred to as "inherently". "Emptiness" is presented in the book as a concept that can provide justification for taking life of others with equanimity. This was the opinion of a Japanese nationalistic Buddhist in the context of war. This in my view is not a helpful illustration of "emptiness". In the context of war the Dalai Lama believes self-defense is justified.

The author does indicate that the book requires prior knowledge and also that those that want to develop a more comprehensive understanding should read "Buddhist Ethics" by Hammalawa Saddhatissa and "Introduction to Buddhist Ethics" by Peter Harvey with which I completely agree. I also suggest " Beyond religion", "Ethics for a whole world" by the Dalai Lama.

This diversity of views the author presents on the subjects treated is not unique for Buddhism. That is the same in Christianity and Islam. All spiritual traditions have some extremist adherents with views that are far removed from the intentions of the founders. In summary the book is interesting for those that would like to compare different Buddhist views on very important ethical issues with the differing views in other spiritual traditions.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. F SHAFER on January 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the second "A Very Short Introduction" book on Buddhism that I have read. Focusing on "Buddhist Ethics, Keown does a yeoman's job of not merely repackaging the information in his previous short introduction to "Buddhism". Keown Describes the tenants of Buddhism, classifies the "ethics" of Buddhism using the Western canon of ethics and then takes on six applied areas. Each are is looked at from the Western and then Buddhist ethical point of view:1) animal s and the environment, 2) sexuality, 3) war and terrorism, 4) abortion, and 6) cloning. The discussion of cloning alone is a reason for reading this book.

I don't want to make the review longer than the short book. Read this book and you will dramatically increase your self-awareness of the ethics within!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Schilke on May 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the other volumes in the VSI seties, this is a straightforward, succinct, and helpfui introduction to the ethical teeachings of the Buddha, as they pertain to 21st century life. As such, it is only a beginning, but a superb way into a somewhat erudtie and confusing area. Highly recommended to anyone wanting a jumping-off point into the practice of Buddhism in daily acitvity and concern.
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