Engaging metacognitive practices

On the uses (and possible abuse) of meditation in philosophy

Authored by: Sonam Kachru

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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It is sometimes suggested that meditation must provide access to deeper levels of reality or risk being irrelevant to philosophy, if not antithetical to philosophy. For, whereas philosophy uses thought and observation to get at truth, meditation may involve the mere manipulation of thought with alethically idle mechanisms aimed at non-philosophical ends – a problem of relevance. It may even involve contrived illusions for therapeutic ends – a problem of epistemic costliness to meditation. This disjunctive dilemma is both contemporary and pre-modern. This chapter pushes against this disjunction, appealing to meta-philosophical perspectives from premodern India, resisting two ideas: that meditation must either have an epistemological role or no philosophical role at all, and the picture of philosophy on which the above dilemma rests. This chapter proposes the view that meditation can involve varieties of metacognitive engagement with a range of contents and cognitive experiences that may be transformative in different ways and pursued to different ends. Depending on how one defines philosophical practice, some uses of the above metacognitive exercises can be relevant to philosophy, though we get different models for relevance based on whether we look to ancient philosophy as a way of life in Greece and India or contemporary academic philosophy.

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