An Account of Generous Action and Esteem in Pāli Buddhism

Abstract

I propose an account of generous action in the Pāli Buddhist tradition, whereby generous actions are instances of giving in which the donor has esteem for the recipient of their giving. The account differs from recent Anglophone accounts of generous action. These tend to construe generous actions as instances of a donor freely offering a gift to the recipient for the sake of benefiting the recipient. Unlike the Buddhist account I propose, these accounts do not require donors to esteem their recipient. Accordingly, I also offer a partial account of esteem, whereby one esteems another only if they refrain from noticing the other’s faults and they encounter the other as someone who is superior in virtue and goodness. Taken together, the Buddhist accounts of generous action and esteem offer insight into certain ways in which different philosophical traditions tend to characterize generous action

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