A review by T. F. Rhoden of Matthew J. Walton’s Politics in the Moral Universe: Burmese Buddhist Political Thought.

Our cultural upbringing, our mores and customs, our manners and practices, and, in particular, our religion (or lack thereof) constitute that pathology that we often call one’s moral worldview. If, as social scientists or humanities scholars, we accept this much, we may also concede that such a moral worldview might have further consequences on how we think and act in various situations: socially, politically, economically, or otherwise.

Take the case of a religion like Buddhism—or more specifically, “Burmese Buddhism”—as Matthew J. Walton does in his dissertation Politics in the Moral Universe: Burmese Buddhist Political Thought. Does being brought up (indoctrinated?) into something like a contemporary Burmese Buddhist “moral universe” have consequences on how one goes about her politics and politicking? The essential argument of this dissertation is that this “Theravāda view of the universe as governed by moral causal laws has been the primary lens through which Buddhists in Myanmar have thought about and engaged with the political realm”. This moral worldview is not simply how one “thinks” about politics but also how one “engages” with politics.

In short, one’s religious coloring of morality has consequences on the political stage… [click here to continue to read full text]

*Originally published in Dissertation Reviews by T. F. Rhoden; photo credit for this re-post via Political Blindspot. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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