Neurogenomics and neuroeudaimonics: Bioethical challenges from the Buddhist perspective

Ellen Ying Zhang

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Neuroeudaimonics (NE) is an interdisciplinary study combining modern neuroscience with eudaimonics, a philosophical concept by Aristotle that investigates human well-being. Neurogenomics (NG) explores interactions among genotypes, phenotypes and the environment, using a range of genomic approaches to synthesize datasets capturing multiple levels of nerve system function. The interest in both NE and NG, and particularly in their potential interactions, is growing among some scientific researchers and some camps of religious and non-religious philosophers. The concern of relevant issues integrates insights from and the interests of NE and NG, and is related to a new paradigm that attempts to advance our understanding of human mind and reshape our language about human mind, identity, happiness and a well-lived life.

Although Buddhism is not neuroscience and it may lack a systematic framework for explicating happiness or well-being, it has a long history of exploring the correlations between consciousness and cognition, emotions and mental causation, aiming at an understanding of how we think, feel and act. The Buddhist approach to the nature of afflictive emotions and its connection to the human experience of suffering has offered a unique perspective on our inquiry into the nature of happiness and well-being. While the studies of NE and NG initiated by empiricists and contemporary ethicists share some similar concerns that have been addressed by Buddhism, approaching those issues from the significant reservoir of reflections at the heart of Buddhism will provide a context in which historical reflections on these issues can be compared to emerging empiricist studies, allowing for critical comparative analysis. This paper consists of four parts: (1) to decipher the Buddhist conception of happiness and mental balance; (2) to explore different levels of mental states in Buddhist meditative practices; (3) to assess and evaluate recent empirical studies on pleasure, happiness and well-being through the lens of technologies of NE and NG; and (4) to conduct a two-way critique to show that the comparative work can be mutually reinforcing and mutually enlightening.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterreligious Perspectives on Mind, Genes and the Self
Subtitle of host publicationEmerging Technologies and Human Identity
EditorsJoseph Tham, Chris Durante, Alberto García Gómez
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780429456145
ISBN (Print)9781138315754, 9780367584894
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameRoutledge Science and Religion Series


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