Transcendence in a Pluralistic Context

  • Ninian Smart
Part of the Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (CSPR)


Mostly in this paper I shall deal with Buddhist and Hindu ideas and practice, so far as they bear upon notions of transcendence. Of course, that notion really splits into a number of varieties, since it is vital to say what something or other is supposed to be transcending. I consider, and have argued this in a paper originally presented in the 1960s,1 that the concept of transcending space can be coherently stated, and, with suitable religious embellishments, is the key notion in Western theism. But there are other usages such as that something or other transcends thought or description and so forth. In this paper I wish to explore analogues from South Asian religions. But by way of contrast to the key idea of transcendence mentioned above, let me start by delineating a different model, as found in the Jain tradition.2


Christian Theism3 Pluralistic Context Claremont Graduate School Buddhist Epistemology South Asian Context 
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  1. 1.
    ‘Myth and Transcendence’, The Monist 50 (1966), 475–87, reprinted in Donald Wiebe (ed.), Concept and Empathy (1988).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On Jainism, see Padmanabh Jaini, The Jaina Path of Purification (1979)Google Scholar
  3. and Nathnal Taka, That Which Is (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994), See also my book Reasons and Faiths (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958) which started the postwar crosscultural philosophy of religion.Google Scholar
  4. Lately there has been published Thomas Dean (ed.), Religious Pluralism and Truth: essays on crosscultural philosophy of religion (1995).Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    As Steven Konstantine and I did in our book A Christian Systematic Theology in a World Context (1991).Google Scholar

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© The Claremont Graduate School 1997

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  • Ninian Smart

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