Morality in the Body

Authored by: Brendan Strejcek , Chen-Bo Zhong

The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415623612
eBook ISBN: 9781315775845
Adobe ISBN: 9781317688662


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There is a long tradition of thought that conceives of morality as in opposition to the appetites and desires of the body. Such physical experiences have, at best, been seen as distractions from the expression of values guided by reason, and, at worst, as the direct cause of sin and immorality through temptation. However, this understanding is being called into question by recent theoretical and empirical work that supports the position that the body is not only an obstacle to morality and moral action, but also a contributor to moral reasoning. Moral concepts seem to be built using mental machinery that is also used for processing bodily experiences. Empirical work in social psychology has shown how intimately these two domains are intertwined, with both reason and bodily inputs feeding back into moral judgment and moral action.

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