Dr Mikel Burley

Dr Mikel Burley

Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy

+44 (0)113 343 7504

Summary: Philosophy of religion; religious ethics; comparative and cross-cultural philosophy and religion; South Asian religious and philosophical traditions (esp. Hindu and Buddhist); Wittgenstein

BA (Essex)
MA (Nottingham)
PhD, MA (Leeds)
PhD (Bristol)

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of religion
  • Religious ethics
  • Comparative and cross-cultural philosophy and religion
  • South Asian religious and philosophical traditions (esp. Hindu and Buddhist)
  • Philosophical and interdisciplinary research methods
  • Death, illness and emotion
  • Conceptions of immortality and eternal life
  • Rebirth and reincarnation 
  • Wittgenstein and Wittgensteinian approaches

Research Supervision

  • Dr Mikel ('Mik') Burley welcomes applications from students wishing to carry out research related to any of his research interests.


  • Religion, Belief and Ethics  
  • Hindu Traditions
  • Buddhism
  • Introduction to South Asian Religions 

Funded Projects



Edited volumes

Journal articles

  • ‘"A Language in Which to Think of the World": Animism, Indigenous Traditions, and the Deprovincialization of Philosophy of Religion', Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory (forthcoming, 2019).
  • 'Dance of the Deodhas: Divine Possession, Blood Sacrifice and the Grotesque Body in Assamese Goddess Worship', Religions of South Asia 12.2 (forthcoming, 2019). 
  • 'Prioritizing Practice in the Study of Religion: Normative and Descriptive Orientations', International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 79.4 (2018): 437–450.
  • 'Religious Diversity and Conceptual Schemes: Critically Appraising Internalist Pluralism', Sophia. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11841-018-0637-x.
  • 'Religious Pluralisms: From Homogenization to Radicality', Sophia. DOI: 10.1007/s11841-017-0636-3.
  • 'Thickening Description: Towards an Expanded Conception of Philosophy of Religion', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 83.1 (2018): 3–19. 
  • 'Dislocating the Eschaton? Appraising Realized Eschatology', Sophia 56.3 (2017): 435–452.
  • ‘"Mountains of Flesh and Seas of Blood": Reflecting Philosophically on Animal Sacrifice through Dramatic Fiction', Journal of the American Academy of Religion 85.3 (2017): 806–832.
  • ‘"The Happy Side of Babel": Radical Plurality, Narrative Fiction and the Philosophy of Religion', Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 29.2 (2017): 101–132.
  • 'Conundrums of Buddhist Cosmology and Psychology', Numen 64.4 (2017): 343–370.
  • 'Eating Human Beings: Varieties of Cannibalism and the Heterogeneity of Human Life', Philosophy 91 (2016): 483–501.
  • 'Eternal Life as an Exclusively Present Possession: Perspectives from Theology and the Philosophy of Time', Sophia 55.2 (2016): 145–161
  • 'Reincarnation and the Lack of Imagination in Philosophy', Nordic Wittgenstein Review 4 (2015): 39–64.
  • 'How to Teach Philosophy of Religion', Teaching Philosophy 38.4 (2015): 427–449.
  • '"The End of Immortality!" Eternal Life and the Makropulos Debate', Journal of Ethics 19.3 (2015): 305–321. 
  • Possibilities of Grieving', Philosophy and Literature 39.1 (2015): 154–171.
  • ‘Approaches to Philosophy of Religion: Contemplating the World or Trying to Find Our Way Home?’, Religious Studies 51.2 (2015): 241–259.
  • ‘Atheisms and the Purification of Faith’, International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75.4 (2014): 319–331.
  • ‘Taking Reincarnation Seriously: Critical Discussion of Some Central Ideas from John Hick’, International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 75.3 (2014): 236–253.
  • ‘Karma and Rebirth in the Stream of Thought and Life’, Philosophy East and West 64.4 (2014): 965–982.
  • ‘Karma, Morality, and Evil’, Philosophy Compass 9.6 (2014): 415–430.
  • ‘“A Petrification of One’s Own Humanity”? Nonattachment and Ethics in Yoga Traditions’, Journal of Religion 94.2 (2014): 204–228.
  • ‘Retributive Karma and the Problem of Blaming the Victim’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74.2 (2013): 149–165.
  • ‘Reincarnation and Ethics’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 81.1 (2013): 162–187.
  • ‘Atheism and the Gift of Death’, Religious Studies 48.4 (2012): 533–546.
  • ‘Reply to Howard Mounce’, Philosophical Investigations 35.3-4 (2012): 377–379.
  • ‘Mounce and Winch on Understanding (or Not Understanding) an Indigenous Society’, Philosophical Investigations 35.3-4 (2012): 350–372.
  • ‘Contemplating Evil’, Nordic Wittgenstein Review 1.1 (2012): 35–54.
  • ‘Believing in Reincarnation’, Philosophy 87 (2012): 261–279.
  • ‘D. Z. Phillips’ Contemplations on Religion and Literature’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 71.1 (2012): 21–37.
  • ‘God’s Reality, Matters of Fact and D. Z. Phillips’, Ars Disputandi 11.1 (2011): 101–117.
  • 'Emotion and Anecdote in Philosophical Argument: The Case of Havi Carel's Illness', Metaphilosophy 42.1-2 (2011): 33-48.
  • 'Winch and Wittgenstein on Moral Harm and Absolute Safety', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67.2 (2010): 81-94.
  • 'Is There a Tension in Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Religion?', Heythrop Journal 51.6 (2010): 1000-1010.
  • 'Epicurus, Death, and the Wrongness of Killing', Inquiry 53.1 (2010): 68-86.
  • 'Immortality and Meaning: Reflections on the Makropulos Debate', Philosophy 84 (2009): 529-547.
  • 'Immortality and Boredom: A Response to Wisnewski', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 65.2 (2009): 77-85.
  • 'The B-Theory of Time and the Fear of Death', Polish Journal of Philosophy 2.2 (2008): 21-38.
  • 'Phillips and Realists on Religious Beliefs and the Fruits Thereof', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 64.3 (2008): 141-153.
  • 'Harry Silverstein's Four-Dimensionalism and the Purported Evil of Death', International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16.4 (2008): 559-568.
  • 'Should a B-Theoretic Atheist Fear Death?', Ratio 21.3 (2008): 260-272.
  • 'Phillips and Eternal Life: A Response to Haldane', Philosophical Investigations 31.3 (2008): 237-251.
  • 'A Place for "Something It Is Like" in Our Language', Philosophical Writings 35 (2007): 17-30.
  • 'Lucretius' Symmetry Argument and the Determinacy of Death', Philosophical Forum 38.4 (2007): 327-341.
  • 'Beyond "Beyond A- and B-Time"', Philosophia 34.4 (2006): 411-416.
  • 'Anticipating Annihilation', Inquiry 49.2 (2006): 170-185.
  • 'Bradley and Schopenhauer, and the Epicurean Argument Concerning Death', Bradley Studies 10.1-2 (2004): 42-54.
  • '"Aloneness" and the Problem of Realism in Classical Samkhya and Yoga', Asian Philosophy 14.3 (2004): 223-238.

Chapters in books

  • 'Philosophy', in Suzanne Newcombe and Karen O'Brien-Kop, eds. Routledge Handbook of Yoga and Meditation Studies (Routledge, forthcoming).
  • '"Being Near Enough to Listen": Wittgenstein and Interreligious Understanding', in Gorazd Andrejč and Daniel H. Weiss, eds. Interpreting Interreligious Relations with Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming). 
  • 'Wittgenstein and the Study of Religion: Beyond Fideism and Atheism', in Mikel Burley, ed., Wittgenstein, Religion and Ethics: New Perspectives from Philosophy and Theology (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), 49-75.
  • 'Samkhya', in Purushottama Bilimoria and Amy Rayner, eds, Routledge History of Indian Philosophy (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018), 131-140.
  • 'Rebirth', in Yujin Nagasawa and Benjamin Matheson, eds, Palgrave Handbook to the Afterlife (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017), 235-254.
  • 'Imagining Philosophy of Religion Differently: Interdisciplinary Wittgensteinian Approaches', in Michael A. Peters and Jeffrey Stickney, eds, A Companion to Wittgenstein on Education: Pedagogical Investigations (Springer, 2017), 715–727.
  • 'Rebirth and "Ethicisation" in Greek and South Asian Thought', in Richard Seaford, ed., Universe and Inner Self in Early Indian and Early Greek Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 220–234. 
  • ‘The Analysis of Experience in Classical Samkhya’, in Jessica Frazier, ed., Categorisation in Indian Philosophy: Thinking Inside the Box (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014), 41–58.
  • ‘Wittgenstein, Religion, and the Rejection of Metaphysics’, in Hannes Nykanen, Ylva Gustafsson, and Camilla Kronqvist, eds, Wittgensteinian Approaches to Ethics and the Philosophy of Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), 74–91.
  • ‘Wittgenstein, Wonder and Attention to Animals’, in Niklas Forsberg, Mikel Burley and Nora Hamalainen, eds, Language, Ethics and Animal Life: Wittgenstein and Beyond (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), 166–178.
  • ‘Self, Consciousness, and Liberation in Classical Samkhya’, in Irina Kutznetsover, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad and Jonardon Ganeri, eds, Hindu and Buddhist Ideas in Dialogue: Self and No-Self (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), 47–62.
  • ‘From Fusion to Confusion: A Consideration of Sex and Sexuality in Traditional and Contemporary Yoga’, in Mark Singleton and Jean Byrne, eds, Yoga in the Modern World: Contemporary Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2008), 184–203.

Conference proceedings

  • ‘Memory and Reincarnation’, in Mind, Language and Action: Papers of the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium, ed. Danièle Moyal-Sharrock, Volker A. Munz and Annalisa Coliva (Kirchberg am Wechsel: Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society, 2013), pp. 66–68.

Annotated bibliography

Shorter articles

  • 'Non-attachment and Ethics in Yoga Traditions', Devon School of Yoga website (2016).
  • 'Eternal Life as a Present Possession', Challenging Religious Issues, No. 8 (2015): 2–7.
  • ‘A Dialogue on Immortality’, Think, No. 21 (2009): 91–97.
  • ‘Is Death a Bad Thing?’, Think, No. 16 (2008): 59–67.
  • ‘The Danish Cartoons: Considering the Consequences’, Think, No. 15 (2007): 77–81.
  • ‘Biology and Anti-Homosexual Disgust’, Think, No. 11 (2005): 107–112.
  • ‘Yoga gegen Yoga’, trans. into German by Peter Padam Singh, Yoga Aktuell 28 (2004): 52–55.
  • ‘Forum Overview’ (on the philosophy of death), The Philosophers’ Magazine, No. 27 (2004): 28–29.

Book reviews

  • Review of Paul Draper and J.L. Schellenberg, eds, Renewing Philosophy of Religion, in Religious Studies (forthcoming).
  • Review of Jessica Frazier, Hindu Worldviews: Theories of Self, Ritual and Reality, in Religious Studies 54.1 (2018): 150-154.
  • Review of Diana Dimitrova, Hinduism and Hindi Theater, in Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion, 6 October 2017.
  • Review of Asher Walden, The Metaphysics of Kindness: Comparative Studies in Religious Meta-Ethics, in Religious Studies 52.2 (2016): 281–285
  • Review essay roundtable on Kevin Schilbrack, Philosophy and the Study of Religions: A Manifesto (with Luke Fox, William Wood and Kevin Schilbrack), Journal of the American Academy of Religion 83.1 (2015): 236-260.
  • Review of Thomas D. Carroll, Wittgenstein within the Philosophy of Religion, in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 77.2 (2015): 179–182.
  • Review of C. Stephen Evans, God and Moral Obligation, in Philosophical Quarterly 64 (2014): 159–161.
  • Review of Andrew Gleeson, A Frightening Love: Recasting the Problem of Evil, in Philosophical Papers 42.1 (2013): 155–159.
  • Review of Christopher Bartley, An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, in Religions of South Asia 6.2 (2012): 287–289.
  • Review of Julian C. Hughes, Thinking through Dementia, in British Wittgenstein Society Book Reviews, co-authored with Sue Richardson (November 2011).
  • Review of The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis and Jerry Root, C. S. Lewis and the Problem of Evil, in Religious Studies 47.4 (2011): 532-537.
  • Review of Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah's Child: A Theologian's Memoir, in Religious Studies 47.4 (2011): 527-531.
  • Review of Karen Armstrong, The Case for God (unabridged audiobook), in Metapsychology Online Reviews 14.24 (2010).
  • Review of Stephen Phillips, Yoga, Karma, and Rebirth: A Brief History and Philosophy, in Metapsychology Online Reviews 14.19 (2010).
  • Review of Christopher Hamilton, Middle Age, in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18.1 (2010): 136-140.
  • Review of Barry Hallen, A Short History of African Philosophy, in Leeds African Studies Bulletin, No. 71 (2009/2010): 72-73.
  • Review of Havi Carel, Illness: The Cry of the Flesh, in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17.4 (2009): 645-650.
  • Review of Knut A. Jacobsen, Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Visnu, in The Journal of Hindu Studies 2.2 (2009): 244-246.
  • Review of Gwen Griffith-Dickson, The Philosophy of Religion (SCM Core Text), in The British Journal of Religious Education 29.2 (2007): 189-191.
  • Review of H. M. Vroom, A Spectrum of Worldviews: An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion in a Pluralistic World, in Religious Studies 43.1 (2007): 111-116.
  • Review of S. N. Tandon, A Re-appraisal of Patañjali's Yoga-Sutras in the Light of the Buddha's Teaching, in Traditional Yoga Studies, online (2001).

Selected Presentations

Elsewhere on the Web

  • Academia.edu profile

  • Philpapers

  • Google Scholar

  • Devon School of Yoga