The art of second wave positive psychology: Harnessing Zen aesthetics to explore the dialectics of flourishing
Keywords:aesthetics, philosophy, Zen, flourishing, dialectics
Abstract: In recent years, a “second wave” of positive psychology has been emerging, characterised, above all, by an awareness and appreciation of the dialectical nature of flourishing. This paper offers a philosophical foundation for this second wave, based on Eastern philosophy, and, in particular, Zen aesthetics. Part one introduces Zen, including its key philosophical ideas and practices, as well as two antecedent traditions that helped to form it, namely, Buddhism and Taoism. Part two then elucidates three aesthetic principles that are integral to Zen: mono no aware (pathos of life), wabi-sabi (desolate beauty), and yūgen (profound grace). The paper discusses how these principles could be of value to positive psychology in fostering dialectical understanding and appreciation, thus highlighting future directions for the field.
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