Project Details

The Ethics of Zen

Zen is a branch of Buddhist Philosophy. All Buddhist thoughts talk about ways for an agent to live a good life. A good life, or a life with Eudaimonia, from the Buddhist point of view, is a life in which the agent is free of suffering, a life in which the agent will no longer cause suffering to himself. Zen distinguishes itself from other Buddhist schools in the way that it does not encourage practitioners to follow certain ascetic practices; in fact, it discourages even sitting meditation, which has been a distinctive Buddhist practice over a thousand years. Zen teaches the practitioners how to live fully the ordinary life which they have been living. So, instead of regular practice of sitting meditation or other disciplinary practices, the Zen practitioners are more like poets than monks, who gather gems of wisdom from the “garden” of their own living environment. In recent decades, the Anglo-American intellectual world begins to absorb and develop a number of themes from the ancient Chinese and Japanese Zen traditions. In my research, I would like to see what exactly we may learn from Zen as an ethical theory, what criteria of moral rightness and wrongness we may derive from its teaching, and if it may provide us with a kind of virtue theory, how it may differ from, e.g., the Aristotelian concept of virtue, etc. My work will involve three parts. First, the reading and summarizing of the traditional scriptures from the Buddhist and Zen schools; second, the studies and selection of research articles in regard to Zen from recent Anglo-American analytic theorists; third, the actual elaboration of the ethical substance of Zen, according to my interpretation.

Commencement Date : 2014/7
Completion Date : 2015/6
Chief Investigator(s) : Dr SIN, Wai Lam William 冼偉林 [IE]
Keyword(s) : Zen   Buddhism   virtues   normative ethics  

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