, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 253-263
Date: 13 Jul 2011

Thinking and Feeling: A Buddhist Perspective

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Abstract

The work ‘Thinking and Feeling’ edited by Robert C. Solomon may be considered as a landmark in the history of the philosophy of the emotions. The work also has assembled together some of the best minds in the Anglo American Traditions. The central focus in this work is to mediate between the physiological arousal theories of emotions and the cognitive appraisal theories of emotions. My article is an attempt to mediate from my Asian background and in specific terms using the Buddhist perspectives on emotion studies, to find answers, a subject on which I have worked over several decades. The Buddha has discouraged people in attempting to find ultimate answers to the body- mind relationships, but use pragmatic and practical perspectives for a two way interactionism. Thus, in the Buddhist analysis the mental and the cognitive, as well as bodily and the physiological are recognised, thus giving room for a holistic understanding of emotions concepts. In fact, Buddhism expects the body, feelings, perceptions, interpretations, and evaluations as facets of emotion concepts. The second point is the domination of the metaphor of reasons as the charioteer in managing unruly emotions in the West. But Buddhism introduces the factor of ‘mindfulness’ as an important ally in the management of emotions. My personal work in therapy and counselling has helped me to explore new dimensions for managing emotions through mindfulness practice.