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Everyday Morality

Constructing a Buddhist Ethos in Rural Thailand

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Abstract

This essay explores the nexus between Buddhist discourse, moral reasoning, and aspects of indigenous ethnopsychology in a Shan community in northern Thailand. I suggest that these three strands of thought are routinely braided together in intricate ways and, furthermore, that some version of this conceptual arrangement is necessary in order for any moral thinking to take place. That is, all moral thought entails some conception of the way the world is structured (a conception that may or may not be based on religion) and some ethnotheory of human nature, both of which are culturally mediated. Finally, I discuss the implications of this view for our understanding of human agency and autonomy.

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