1st Edition

Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation

Edited By Rick Repetti Copyright 2022

    This Handbook provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of the state of the field of the philosophy of meditation and engages primarily in the philosophical assessment of the merits of meditation practices.

    This Handbook unites novel and original scholarship from 28 leading Asian and Western philosophers, scientists, theologians, and other scholars on the philosophical assessment of meditation. It critically assesses the conceptual and empirical validity of meditation, its philosophical implications, its legitimacy as a phenomenological research tool, its potential value as an aid to neuroscience research, its many practical benefits, and, among other considerations, its possibly misleading interpretations, applications, and consequences.

    Following the introduction by the editor, the Handbook’s chapters are organized in six parts:

    • Meditation and philosophy

    • Meditation and epistemology

    • Meditation and metaphysics

    • Meditation and values

    • Meditation and phenomenology

    • Meditation in Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions

    A distinctive, timely, and invaluable reference work, it marks the emergence of a new discipline therein, the philosophy of meditation. The book will be of interest to an interdisciplinary audience in the fields of philosophy, meditation, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, theology, and Asian and Western philosophy. It will serve as the textbook in any philosophy course on meditation, and as secondary reading in courses in philosophy of mind, consciousness, selfhood/personhood, metaphysics, or phenomenology, thereby helping to restore philosophy as a way of life.

    Foreword by Owen Flanagan

    Introduction: Is meditation philosophy?
    Rick Repetti

    PART I: Meditation and philosophy

    1 Skeptical doubts about meditation as philosophy
    Richard Legum

    2 The philosophy of meditation: The spoken Tao
    Rick Repetti

    3 Meditation and the paradox of self-consciousness
    Ben Abelson

    4 The relation between meditation and analytic philosophy
    Marie Friquegnon

    5 Engaging metacognitive practices: On the uses (and possible abuse) of meditation in philosophy
    Sonam Kachru

    6 Differences and interaction between meditative cultivation and philosophical thought/insight in early and Theravāda Buddhism
    Peter Harvey

    7 The necessity of meditation in Upaniṣadic turīya and Yogācāra amala vijñana
    Charu Thapliyal

    PART II: Meditation and epistemology

    8 Meditation, nonconceptuality, and the reflexive structure of consciousness
    John Spackman

    9 The experience of presence: Meditation and the nature of consciousness
    Wolfgang Fasching

    10 Meditation as cultivating knowledge-how
    Christopher W. Gowans

    11 How meditation changes the brain: A neurophilosophical and pragmatic account
    David R. Vago

    12 How a philosophy of meditation can explore the deep connections between mindfulness and contemplative wisdom
    John Vervaeke

    13 Psychedelics and meditation: A neurophilosophical perspective
    Chris Letheby

    PART III: Meditation and metaphysics

    14 Philosophy without a philosopher: Anātman as a special case of dependent arising
    Lou Marinoff

    15 Meditative experience and the plasticity of self-experience
    Matthew MacKenzie

    16 The self: What does mindfulness meditation reveal about it?
    Karsten J. Struhl

    17 Control, anxiety, and the progressive detachment from the self
    Bryce Huebner and Genevieve Hayman

    PART IV: Meditation and values

    18 Is there a global norm in favor of global attentiveness?
    Jake H. Davis

    19 Meditation in the context of a naturalized eudaimonic Buddhism
    Seth Zuihō Segall

    PART V: Meditation and phenomenology

    20 The phenomenology of meditation: An Advaita approach
    Sthaneshwar Timalsina

    21 What is meditation good for?: Reflections on the use of meditation in the study of consciousness
    Georges Dreyfus

    22 Bare attention, dereification, and meta-awareness in mindfulness: A phenomenological critique
    Odysseus Stone and Dan Zahavi

    23 Consciousness, content, and cognitive attenuation: A neurophenomenological perspective
    Christian Coseru

    PART VI: Meditation in Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions

    24 Prosochê as Stoic mindfulness
    Massimo Pigliucci

    25 The philosophical presuppositions of Christian meditation: Theo-philosophical anthropology and its corresponding participatory ontology
    Joseph Terry

    26 The end of man: Philosophical consummation in Jewish meditative tradition
    Tomer Persico



    Rick Repetti is Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York (CUNY), USA, and author of four books, including Buddhism, Meditation, and Free Will (Routledge 2018), and dozens of articles and chapters on meditation and free will. He is an APPA-certified philosophical counselor, podcaster, and 4th-Dan Shotokan blackbelt, and has taught meditation and yoga since the mid-1970s.

    "Rick Repetti has invited the leading scholars of the philosophy of meditation to reflect on the significance of this practice. Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation is the most extensive and informative collection of articles on this topic in print. This Handbook is the first stop for anyone interested in the philosophical issues raised by meditation practice."  

    Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College and the Harvard Divinity School, USA


    "Routledge Handbook on the Philosophy of Meditation is first of its kind. Rick Repetti, a leader in the field, has edited this excellent collection of original articles from experts with diverse perspectives, masterfully arranging them into themes including phenomenology, metaphysics, epistemology, values, and religion, relating each to the central hypothesis that there is a philosophy of meditation."

    Miri Albahari, Philosophy, University of Western Australia


    "This volume includes important new essays from prominent experts on Buddhist thought and from key contributors to the scholarly conversation about meditation. It contains careful, rigorous work from a variety of perspectives, drawing on relevant research in psychology as well as Asian textual traditions. The book will be valuable to philosophers, psychologists, and scholars of Asian religions. It will also be helpful to anyone looking for insights into what meditation is and what it can do for us, both as seekers of knowledge and as suffering humans."

    Charles Goodman, Binghamton University, USA