Buddhism, comparative neurophilosophy, and human flourishing

Zygon 49 (1):208-219 (2014)
Authors
Christian Coseru
College of Charleston
Abstract
Owen Flanagan's The Bodhisattva's Brain represents an ambitious foray into cross-cultural neurophilosophy, making a compelling, though not entirely unproblematic, case for naturalizing Buddhist philosophy. While the naturalist account of mental causation challenges certain Buddhist views about the mind, the Buddhist analysis of mind and mental phenomena is far more complex than the book suggests. Flanagan is right to criticize the Buddhist claim that there could be mental states that are not reducible to their neural correlates; however, when the mental states in question reflect the embodied patterns of moral conduct that characterize the Buddhist way of being-in-the-world, an account of their intentional and normative status becomes indispensable. It is precisely this synthesis of normativity and causal explanation that makes Buddhism special, and opens new avenues for enhancing, refining, and expanding the range of arguments and possibilities that comparative neurophilosophy can entertain
Keywords moral psychology  Owen Flanagan  consciousness  cross‐cultural philosophy  Buddhism  eudaimonia  comparative neurophilosophy  affective neuroscience  phenomenology
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DOI 10.1111/zygo.12067
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