Confucius and Langerian mindfulness

Educational Philosophy and Theory 53 (9):931-940 (2021)
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In this essay, I draw upon Ellen J. Langer’s notions of mindlessness and mindfulness to identify and delineate Confucius’ views on mindfulness. Langer’s theory exemplifies a social-cognitive approach to mindfulness which is a prominent orientation in the extant research. I argue that Confucius, like Langer, rejects mindlessness that is characterised by an over-reliance on automatic responses based on past knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, Confucius supports Langerian mindfulness by underlining the importance of a flexible mindset that is demonstrated through making novel distinctions, appreciating new perspectives and being sensitive to the context. But Confucius’ formulation of mindfulness goes beyond Langer’s by advocating the setting of one’s heart-mind on learning and the application of virtues. A Confucian interpretation of mindfulness debunks an East-West dichotomy on mindfulness and illustrates the harmonisation of the cognitive, affective, moral and social dimensions of mindfulness.



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