The Ethics of Sankara and Santideva: A Selfless Response to an Illusory World, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Ethics of Sankara and Santideva

A Selfless Response to an Illusory World, 1st Edition

By Warren Lee Todd


232 pages

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Exploring the philosophical concerns of the nature of self, this book draws from two of the most influential Indian masters, Śaṅkara and Śāntideva. Todd demonstrates that an ethics of altruism is still possible within a metaphysics which assumes there to be no independent self. A new ethical model based on the notions of ’flickering consciousness’ and ’constructive altruism’ is proposed. By comparing the metaphysics and ethics of Śaṅkara and Śāntideva, Todd shows that the methodologies and aims of these Buddhist and Hindu masters trace remarkably similar cross-cutting paths. Treating Buddhism and Hinduism with equal respect, this book compares and reinterprets the Indian material so as to engage with contemporary Western debates on self and to show that Indian philosophy is indeed a philosophy of dialogue.


'I welcome this book by Warren Todd in which, following the pattern of critical examination in which both masters participated, he provides a comparative study of various aspects of Sankara's and Santideva's ideas, particularly their mutual focus on ethics'. His Holiness the Dalai Lama ’This is a sound, systematic and original work. The outstanding aspect of it is that it studies a major Hindu and a major Buddhist figure comparatively, while also engaging conceptually with contemporary Western debates. As such, it triangulates the question of the relationship between the metaphysics of self and the ethics of conduct. The evenhandedness of treatment, and the commitment to bringing out conceptually important considerations without ideological bias, is the outstanding feature of this book.’ Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Lancaster University, UK 'This work stands out as a useful resource for anyone interested in comparative religious ethics - and, particularly, the ethics of self-gift, altruism and social egalitarianism. A preface by the Dalai Lama adds gravitas to the study, and helps to situate it more firmly as the truly constructive proposal that it is. It will reward close reading by students of Advaita, Buddhism and moral philosophy.' Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies

About the Author

Dr Warren Lee Todd gained his MA in Buddhist Studies under Prof. Peter Harvey at Sunderland University, and went on to Lancaster University to complete his PhD in Religious Studies under Prof. Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad. He co-taught the MA in Buddhist Studies at Sunderland, before moving with the course to the University of South Wales, where he is currently Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Philosophy. He also teaches Buddhism at Mahidol University (MUIDS), Thailand.

About the Series

Dialogues in South Asian Traditions: Religion, Philosophy, Literature and History

Face-to-face conversation and dialogue are defining features of South Asian traditional texts, rituals and practices. Not only has the region of South Asia always consisted of a multiplicity of peoples and cultures in communication with each other, but also performed and written dialogues have been indelible features within the religions of South Asia; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam are all multi-vocal religions. Their doctrines, practices and institutions have never had only one voice of authority, and dialogue has been a shared tactic for negotiating contesting interpretations within each tradition.

This series examines the use of the dialogical genre in South Asian religious and cultural traditions. Historical inquiries into the plurality of religious identity in South Asia, particularly when constructed by the dialogical genre, are crucial in an age when, as Amartya Sen has recently observed, singular identities seem to hold more destructive sway than multiple ones. This series approaches dialogue in its widest sense, including discussion, debate, argument, conversation, communication, confrontation and negotiation. Opening up a dynamic historical and literary mode of analysis, which assumes the plural dimensions of religious identities and communities from the start, this series challenges many outdated assumptions and representations of South Asian religions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Buddhism / General (see also PHILOSOPHY / Buddhist)