Is Buddhism Experimental Philosophy?

This programme, in the generally brilliant BBC Analysis series, is a fascinating discussion of a ‘new’ approach to philosophy where researchers actually do experiments and are exploring the relationship between our ‘morals’ and our reason. What is great about it is that one is continuously wanting to chip in and say “yes but…”.

The thesis that how we feel effects our perception of the world and therefore how we feel about the world and therefore our perception of it in some big circle is hardly new from a Buddhist perspective. Putting someone in an NMR scanner seems an expensive and complex way to explore what millions of people do every day during mettā bhāvanā practice – that it is easier to feel compassion and loving kindness for someone close to you. Although I can’t demonstrate it rationally I ‘believe’ (or should that be feel) that a meditator probably has a greater understanding of the nature of compassion than the non-meditating experimental philosopher will ever have – even though they are essential pursuing the same goals. But here I am probably expressing my bias.

You can listen to the programme as a podcast or read the transcript. Certainly worth half an hour of anyone’s time.

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