The Psychological Mechanisms and Inspiration of Moral Cognition

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.9, 2015


The Psychological Mechanisms and Inspiration of Moral Cognition



Jing Huaibin


Moral cognition is a spiritual activity characterized by the twofold elements of intellectual intuition of the sources of morality and the corresponding moral conduct. Research from a psychological perspective offers an interpretation that differs from that of traditional philosophy. From the theoretical framework of the Confucian “innate moral knowledge,” one can draw out the “telescoped” cognitive mechanisms of moral cognition—the intellectual intuition of ultimate belief schemas and, on this basis, the cognizance and experience of today’s everyday world. The two interact to catalyze the development of the moral realm, driven spiritually by “inquiring about the ultimate and taking inspiration from the nature of things.” Moral cognition is not a mysterious religious experience, and it is substantively different from the modern concept of intelligence and the “embodied cognition” of the cognitive sciences. Its psychological mechanisms provide a theoretical framework for contemporary research on the beliefs of individuals and offer new scope for the development of research on cognition.