The philosophy of meditation

The spoken Tao

Authored by: Rick Repetti

Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation

Print publication date:  May  2022
Online publication date:  May  2022

Print ISBN: 9780367647469
eBook ISBN: 9781003127253
Adobe ISBN:


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What is the sound of one mind meditating? Is it philosophically valid? The Taoist path is one of harmonizing with the Tao, the Way – to inner peace, practical wisdom, and philosophical enlightenment. Similar views have defined a number of schools of Asian philosophy for millennia. Sages across many Asian traditions have held that philosophical insights alone are insufficient for enlightenment, and that meditation is the sine qua non. This chapter proposes that meditative practice in these traditions functionally resembles what Dennett calls “intuition pumps” (perspective-altering thought-experiments): here, perspective-altering thought-experiment-type disciplines designed to repeatedly but gradually transform one’s philosophical gestalt, what may be called “consciousness pumps”. Primarily due to ignorance, the value of this powerfully effective philosophical discipline has rarely been recognized in Western philosophy, other than dismissively, with the exception of theology and Stoicism, which latter is undergoing a contemporary revival, and resurrecting philosophy as a way of life. This chapter addresses many of the main arguments for and against the philosophical validity of meditation – its ability to aid philosophical understanding and as form of philosophy – and concludes that the meditative path is a deeply philosophical one that ought to be recognized as a form of philosophy within Western philosophy.

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