Is it Permissible to Teach Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation in a Critical Thinking Course?

Informal Logic 40 (4):545-586 (2020)
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Abstract

: In this essay I set out the case for why mindfulness meditation should be included in critical thinking education, especially with respect to educating people about how to argue with one another. In 1, I introduce to distinct mind sets, the critical mind and the meditative mind, and show that they are in apparent tension with one another. Then by examining the Delphi Report on Critical Thinking I show how they are not in tension. I close 1 by examining some recent work by Mark Battersby and Jeffery Maynes on expanding out critical thinking education to be inclusive of cognitive science and decision making. I argue that their arguments for expanding critical thinking education ultimately lead to considering the relevance of meditation in critical thinking. In 2, I examine work on critical thinking by Harvey Siegel and Sharon Bailin in order to draw out different conceptions of critical thinking both from a theoretical point of view as well as a pedagogical point of view. In 3, I present criteria for selecting a form of meditation that should be taught in critical thinking courses; I argue that mindfulness meditation deriving from the Buddhist tradition satisfies the relevant criteria. I then present research from contemporary cognitive neuroscience and psychology about the benefits of mindfulness meditation as it relates to the prospects of including it in critical thinking. In 4, I consider a recent study by Noone and Hogan that suggests that mindfulness meditation does not improve a person’s ability to think critically. I argue that while the study is important, there are substantial reasons for thinking that further studies should be done, as the authors themselves conclude. In 5, I move on to the issue of how meditation can be useful for improving performance in one important area of critical thinking: mitigating stereotype threat. My focus here is on examining the hypothesis that stereotype threat effects performance in critical thinking, and that negative impacts from stereotype threat can be mitigated by meditation. In 6, I summarize my argument for including meditation into critical thinking education, and close by discussing three important objections.

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Anand Vaidya
San Jose State University

Citations of this work

From critical thinking to criticality and back again.Henri Pettersson - 2023 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 57 (2):478-494.

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References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Handbook of Emotion Regulation.James J. Gross (ed.) - 2007 - Guilford Press.
Why I Am Not a Buddhist.Evan Thompson - 2020 - Yale University Press.
Basic emotions.Paul Ekman - 1999 - In Tim Dalgleish & Mick Power (eds.), Handbook of Cognition and Emotion. Wiley. pp. 4--5.
The Character of Logic in India.Bimal Krishna Matilal - 1998 - Albany, NY, USA: SUNY Press.

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