Does Hess think we have to accept reincarnation to agree with Siddhartha?


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In the end, the lingering question one is left with is how intertwined Siddhartha's metaphysical and the ethical proposals are. Need we accept reincarnation, the unity of all Being, and the fiction of time in order to accept Siddhartha's ethics of self-determination and love? As Hesse wrote this for a Western audience, the answer is presumably no. This is an allegory, a moral tale, and not a philosophical treatise. If we accept this suggestion wholeheartedly, which Hesse gives us many reasons to do, then his invocation of Indian metaphysics serves primarily to create an exotic and mystical context to seduce Western readers. This, though, seems to overlook the Hesse's detail in weaving his narrative from strands of uniquely Indian thoughts. It seems extreme to dismiss this as merely stylization. In the end, though, perhaps we should follow Siddhartha's example in determining how much significance to give to the Indian religion/philosophy in Siddhartha: let each come to his or her own conclusion.