Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)


J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Asoka (about 300-232 B.C.), a Hindu monarch. In middle life, shocked by the sufferings caused by his wars, he embraced Buddhism, and he is generally described as a monk. It is now universally admitted that he was one of the most idealistic of monarchs. H. G. Wells says in his Outline of History, the first work of general history in English literature to do Asoka justice, that in the list of Kings "the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star." The empire which he had inherited from his grandfather, Chandragupta, was as extensive as is the Empire of India to-day, and Asoka maintained it intact, peaceful (after his fortieth year), and very prosperous. Although there is some evidence that he at times wore a royal version of a Buddhist monk's robe, it is not asceticism but social idealism that distinguished his conduct. He had such a passion for right conduct that he employed large numbers of spies to report transgressors, sent ethical missionaries to foreign countries as far as Syria, and set up a large number of stone columns inscribed with his moral counsels or commands. The moral code he so severely inculcated did not include sex clauses, for he left intact the extraordinarily free life of his empire in that respect, and is said himself to have married a young woman after the death, late in life, of his second wife. Virtue to him meant peace, for which he had a profound yearning, religious toleration, honesty, kindliness, and brotherhood. The only element of mysticism was that he believed in reincarnation, which Buddha himself had never clearly accepted, and this led him to impose vegetarianism harshly upon his people. His ethic was "human and severely practical," and he "ignored, without denying, the existence of a Supreme Deity," says Mr. Vincent Smith, our standard authority on Hindu history, in his Asoka (3rd. ed., 1920, pp. 31 and 34). In other words, since very zealous moralists who believe in a deity never ignore him in their appeals, Asoka was, like Buddha and the other great Asiatic guides, Confucius and Meng-tse, an Atheist as defined by our best dictionaries. [See Atheism.]

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