Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University
"This paper examines Kant's moral theory and compares it with certain key aspects of oriental (especially Buddhist) moral philosophy. In both cases, we focus on the suggestion that there may be a connection between a person's physical health and moral state. Special attention is paid to the nature of pain, illness, and personal happiness and to their mutual interrelationships. A frequently ignored feature of Kant's approach to morality is his preoccupation with health, and his attempt to interpret it in terms of the moral law. An obvious antithesis of the health-moral imperative would be an illness-pathological imperative; we will regard both as forms imposed on our experience by the human mind. We demonstrate that the Kantian path to understanding the “moral metaphysics of medicine” can be supported by Tibetan medicine and Buddhist ethics. What Buddhism understands as moral law, or “Sila”, corresponds directly to Kant's theory. In both cases, health is the supreme judge that demonstrates whether or not our moral state is justifiable. Our principal intention is to show that, through the power of mind, a person’s moral state can--and in fact does--influence the body, having as its expression either health or illness. By considering the relevance of the Kantian interpretation of morality to medicine, we regard proper attention to the former as the surest path to the goal of maintaining personal health."
Keywords Buddhism  Relationship of morality and metaphysics  Immanuel Kant  Philosophy of Medicine
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