Compassion and Naturalism

In the run up to HH the Dalai Lama’s second official visit to the DLCC we are publishing short reflections from DLCC Fellows on His Holiness’ previous visit and the aims of the Centre. The following is from philosopher, Dr Dr Benedikt Paul Göcke:

There is more to life than what science is saying…  Naturalism is almost the default position in today’s philosophy. Although there are many theses of naturalism, the core of a naturalistic worldview is constituted by the assumptions that only those things exist that the physical sciences tell us about, and that the methods of the physical sciences are the only ones able to lead to substantial knowledge of the world.

Despite its current popularity, however, a naturalistic worldview faces many substantial problems: for example, because the sciences do not mention moral virtues or the spirituality of human life, there is no room for genuine moral virtues like compassion and spirituality in a strictly naturalistic worldview. Yet, moral virtues and spirituality are undeniably fundamental and necessary elements of a flourishing human society.

Since, as the Dalai Lama pointed out to the fellows of the DLCC during the Fellow’s meeting last year, it is part of the agenda of the DLCC to identify and analyse the problems and consequences of a naturalistic worldview, the work of the DLCC is important and urgent. It helps to create a more virtuous and compassionate society that is open to the possibility that, even from a secular point of view, there might be more to human life than what we know about from the physical sciences. – Benedikt Paul Göcke