Loving Attention: Buddhaghosa, Katsuki Sekida, and Iris Murdoch on Meditation and Moral Development

Philosophy East and West:1-32 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

According to Iris Murdoch, one of our central moral capacities is the capacity to direct our attention in a way that is just and loving. In Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, Murdoch explores the prospects for strengthening this capacity through engaging in Zen Buddhist practices, particularly zazen meditation as Katsuki Sekida describes it in Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy. Murdoch has a mixed view of whether zazen could really contribute to our moral development, expressing both some optimism and some reservations. I argue that a stronger version of Murdoch’s project, by her own lights, would have looked to the Theravāda Buddhist philosopher Buddhaghosa’s instructions for taking up loving-kindness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity as meditation subjects.

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Mark Fortney
Dalhousie University

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