Beyond Enlightenment : Buddhism, Religion, Modernity book cover
1st Edition

Beyond Enlightenment
Buddhism, Religion, Modernity

ISBN 9780415544443
Published April 29, 2009 by Routledge
254 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The vast majority of books on Buddhism describe the Buddha using the word enlightened, rather than awakened. This bias has resulted in Buddhism becoming generally perceived as the eponymous religion of enlightenment.

Beyond Enlightenment is a sophisticated study of some of the underlying assumptions involved in the study of Buddhism (especially, but not exclusively, in the West). It investigates the tendency of most scholars to ground their study of Buddhism in these particular assumptions about the Buddha’s enlightenment and a particular understanding of religion, which is traced back through Western orientalists to the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation.

Placing a distinct emphasis on Indian Buddhism, Richard Cohen adeptly creates a work that will appeal to those with an interest in Buddhism and India and also scholars of religion and history.

Table of Contents

Preface  1. A Benign Introduction  2. A Place of Exceptional Universal Value  3. A Tale of Two Histories  4. The Anthropology of Enlightenment  5. What Do Gods Have to Do With Enlightenment?  6. A Baroque. Conclusion.  Bibliography.  Index

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Richard S. Cohen is Associate Professor of South Asian Religious Literatures at the University of California, San Diego. This is his first book, though he has published numerous articles in such venues as the Journal of the American Academy of Religion and History of Religions. He is now working on a study of Buddhism and counterculture.


'This book has ambitious scope, it explores and critiques Western notions of enlightenment that have structured the study of Buddhism.'

 - Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History, Delhi University, India