A Chariot Between Two Armies: A Perfectionist Reading of the Bhagavadgītā

Deb, Paul (2021) A Chariot Between Two Armies: A Perfectionist Reading of the Bhagavadgītā. Philosophy East and West, 71 (4). pp. 851-871. ISSN 1529-1898

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Interpretations of the ethical significance of the Bhagavadgītā typically understand the debate between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa in terms of a struggle between consequentialist and deontological doctrines. In this paper, I provide instead a reading of the Gītā which draws on a conception of moral thinking that can be understood to cut across those positions – that developed by Stanley Cavell, which he calls ‘Emersonian Moral Perfectionism’. In so doing, I emphasise how Kṛṣṇa’s consolation of Arjuna can centrally and fruitfully be viewed as concerned with resuscitating the latter’s individuality, thereby allowing Arjuna to overcome an unthinking conformity to the current degenerate state of his society. This leads me to explore the relation between this perfectionist understanding of spiritual reorientation and the Gītā’s religious account of human redemption. I conclude by suggesting how the text of the Gītā itself might have similar therapeutic designs upon its readers.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: bhagavad gita,moral perfectionism,stanley cavell,philosophy,religious studies ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1200/1211
Faculty \ School: University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Philosophy
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 00:06
Last Modified: 24 May 2022 14:08
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/76808
DOI: 10.1353/pew.0.0205

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