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We have always been modern: Buddhism, Science and the New Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka

Simpson, Bob

Authors



Abstract

This paper explores the traffic in ideas concerning new reproductive technologies in contemporary Sri Lanka. It attempts to locate the responses to the moral challenges posed by the new bio-technologies within wider political, religious and cultural traditions. In particular, it considers the way that embryogenesis is talked about by a variety of interested parties: infertility doctors, members of ethics committees, Buddhist priests and concerned lay people. The paper discusses a distinctive historical alignment between Buddhism and science before moving on to locate recent advances in bio-technology within an emergent Buddhist embryology and ontology of the person. The paper concludes with a discussion of the relationship between science, ethics and pluralism in the post-colonial state. The paper seeks to throw light on how a rhetoric of acceptance and endorsement is constructed amongst sections of the medical and scientific community and how, in turn, this is presented as the ‘Buddhist’ response. Although the attitudes and beliefs described are held by a relative small number of people, they nonetheless represent a tributary into a much more powerful ideological flow based on the claim that there is a distinctive ‘asian bioethics’ which is at once different from a ‘western bioethics’ and more congenial to the people of Asia.

Citation

Simpson, B. (2009). We have always been modern: Buddhism, Science and the New Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in Sri Lanka. Culture and Religion, 10(2), 137-157. https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610903077547

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2009-07
Deposit Date Nov 15, 2010
Journal Culture and Religion
Print ISSN 1475-5610
Electronic ISSN 1475-5629
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Volume 10
Issue 2
Pages 137-157
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610903077547
Keywords Buddhism, Embryogenesis, cloning, science, ethics.
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1537404