Ethical Theorizing in Indian Philosophy

  • P. K. Mohapatra


This chapter tries to bring out some specific features of ethical theorizing in Indian philosophy and examine the fall-outs thereof. A remarkable feature of Indian ethics is that, like that of Indian philosophy in most of its aspects, it is practical in its approach and intents, because it expressly aims at removal of suffering and attainment of moksa. Even dharma that is supposed to regulate Hindu practical life is pursued as a means to moksa, not for its own sake. But although this highlights the practical aspect of Indian ethics and philosophy, this has led to a general impression among some western philosophers (notably Hegel, Husserl and Stace) that (a) there was no theory of ethics and philosophy in India and that (b) Indian ethics was nothing but religion and spirituality. As against this, we argue to the effect that such an impression is based on gross misconception about practicality and misrepresentation of the relation between theory and practice.

We adduce arguments and provide textual support to show that Indian philosophers did theorize about ethics, quite remarkably by reinterpreting old texts and not merely dogmatically listing duties and virtues, and that the Indian mind was constantly engaged in theorizing about practice. Some eminent contemporary philosophers have been cited in support of this.


Ethical theorizing Moksa Dharma as means to moksa Theory about practice JivanmuktLoka sangraha Primacy of the ethical 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Mohapatra
    • 1
  1. 1.Former Professor of PhilosophyUtkal UniversityBhubaneswarIndia

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