May 11 – 15, 2016: 2nd International Conference on Mindfulness, Sapienza University of Rome. See here the website of the event.
Among the many interesting presentations, I presented the paper entitled Mindfulness as an Ethical Practice.
In this paper, I ask two questions. The first is: What is an ethical practice? The second question is: Is mindfulness an ethical practice? My ultimate concern, however, is the possible link between the two issues: What relationship does mindfulness have with ethics? To answer these questions, I first draw on three ethical theories from the Western history of philosophy—Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Deleuze—to define ethics as a particular way of being. Then, I integrate and compare some significant elements from these ethics with the practice of mindfulness, mainly as Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it. This is done to clarify to what extent mindfulness is an ethical practice. My study reveals that not only can mindfulness be viewed as a classical ethical practice (as understood in a Western philosophical context), but—and perhaps more surprising—mindfulness is closer to some Western ethics than to Buddhism, e.g., regarding whether “the Good” is known beforehand, whether ethics is an immanent or transcendent practice, and whether ethics is a judgmental or nonjudgmental practice. Finally, I briefly discuss the ways in which Western philosophy can shed new light on mindfulness.