Moral Perception

Paysage avec Orion aveugle cherchant le soleil - Nicolas Poussin -  1658

Paysage avec Orion aveugle cherchant le soleil – Nicolas Poussin – 1658

What can we learn from Buddhist moral psychology? Jay L. Garfield (excerpt from Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that perception itself is morally charged. If I see women as tools, or Latinos as fools, the damage is done. That perception involves the formation of intentions that are morally problematic on their face, and that lead to harms of all kinds. Perceiving in that way makes me a morally reduced person. If, on the other hand, I perceive people as opportunities to cooperate, or to provide benefit, I perceive in a way that involves the construction of morally salutary intentions, good on their face, and productive of human goods. For this reason, much Buddhist ethical discourse eschews the articulation of duties, rules or virtues, and aims at the transformation of our mode of perceptual engagement with the world. Moral cultivation, on this view, is the cultivation of a way of seeing, not in the first a instance a way of acting.

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