This week TED has uploaded a talk enthusiastically endorsing meditation. TED and meditation, or ‘TEDitation’ -it’s a combination cynics are already dubbing an unsightly collision between facile pseudo-scientific hot air – and meditation. Seriously though, it’s been known for some time that technology and meditation is a match made in Nirvana- particularly in medicine. TED noted a few scientific reports into the effects of meditation that have been carried out in the last year, but I wanted to go back a bit further and simply summarise the key findings of those studies which came to light in my brief search. I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to explicate the primary sources. Read the rest of this entry
After my suggestions about an inclusive model for common ground between Christian and Buddhist philosophies the following discussion took place on another site. Thus we begin with a couple of ‘guest posts’ and then see my response to them. Read the rest of this entry
My post which was the most original (philosophically) so far was a discussion of the relationship between Eudaimonology and Soteriology. I posed a few questions about the former which will take a long time to answer (such is philosophy).
At the most general level my project is to defend eudaimonology as highly relevant and as the central concern of philosophy. Of course an important part of this project is refining an appropriate definition of the subject. While so far I have only made introductory posts about a third of the different traditions I’m aware of, I realised a working definition while reading the other night. If I remember correctly it looked something like this…
Eudaimonology is study of how human life is to be lived, focusing on:
1. What human beings are (the task of philosophical anthropology),
2. What makes human life fulfilling (a conceptual as well as psychological question),
3. How human beings should interact with one another (the task of ethics and socio-political philosophy),
4. How human nature can transcend itself to become something greater (a soteriological question).
Regarding the first of these, Vincent Nichols said recently that the understanding of human nature is an excellent basis upon which to carry out public discourse because it cuts away pernicious individualism. I agree. Though my expertise falls more towards the study of point 4 (and to a lesser extent points 3 and 2), we should begin from the common acceptance of the human species as the product of natural selection. After this, there are many different theories/traditions in the debate on human nature. I have yet not studied these but I have indicated my sympathy for Marx’s early writings.
The following is another essay I wrote back in 2008.
Is Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean A Plausible Guide To Moral Goodness?
Aristotle’s (384 BC – 322 BC) doctrine of the mean has a privileged place in one of the grand moral traditions, that of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics retains a widespread influence today, particularly via its thirteenth century formulation by St. Thomas Aquinas, which remains at the core of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, and via its twentieth century reunion with the secular mainstream of moral philosophy through the work of several Catholic scholars, particularly Alasdair MacIntyre. This essay endorses virtue ethics and argues that the doctrine of the mean is a plausible guide to moral goodness, but is not by itself adequate as a guide to all-things-considered moral rightness. Read the rest of this entry
What are the fields of eudaimonology and soteriology in philosophy? Here I will attempt an original overview of an answer. I happen to be very interested in each of them individually but in this short piece I hope to give some indication of how they are similar to, and how they interact with, one another.
In a previous post I observed that Hinduism shares many features at a fundamental level with Christianity. If this is so, then one would expect that Christianity also shares important features with Buddhism since that religion developed out of Hinduism and retains many Hindu characteristics. And indeed this is so, but this comparison is a more complex and nuanced one. Buddhism is very often likened to Christianity in terms of its ethics, its emphasis on altruism and peace. This is accurate, but superficial. My aim is to draw out some more specific contrasts in terms of the central formulae of Buddhism.
Thinking about religion it is easy to be impressed (if that’s the right word) by the wide diversity of religious traditions and beliefs. The most general categories we use for talking about religions are ‘western’ and ‘eastern’, and our most historically significant examples of each of these are provided by Christianity and Hinduism. It may be surprising then, just how similar the two monolithic systems of the supposedly divergent traditions are.