• Facing death from a safe distance: saṃvega and moral psychology

    Author(s):
    Lajos Brons (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Subject(s):
    Buddhist studies, Death, Ethics, Philosophy
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Moral Psychology, Buddhist Ethics, Meditation
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6109V
    Abstract:
    Saṃvega is a morally motivating state of shock that— according to Buddhaghosa—should be evoked by meditating on death. What kind of mental state it is exactly, and how it is morally motivating is unclear, however. This article presents a theory of saṃvega—what it is and how it works—based on recent insights in psychology. According to dual process theories there are two kinds of mental processes organized in two "systems" : the experiential, automatic system 1, and the rational, controlled system 2. In normal circumstances, system 1 does not believe in its own mortality. Saṃvega occurs when system 1 suddenly realizes that the "subjective self" will inevitably die (while system 2 is already disposed to affirm the subject's mortality). This results in a state of shock that is morally motivating under certain conditions. Saṃvega increases mortality salience and produces insight in suffering, and in combination with a strengthened sense of loving-kindness or empathic concern both mortality salience and insight in suffering produce moral motivation.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    7 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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