Problematizing the Validity of Neuroethics and Moral Treatment: Brain Text as a New Humanistic Approach to Moral Education

Yanyan Jia,
Houliang Chen

Published Date: Aug 31, 2021


With the advancements in neuroscience and technology, the neurocognitive approach to the human brain seems to outrun the traditional humanistic approach to moral studies, while its demystification and biological reduction of morality is also questionable, particularly, its implicative suggestion for moral treatment. Contrastingly, ethical literary criticism, especially the brain text theory proposed by Zhenzhao Nie, enlightens us with a new approach to moral education. Essentially different from the clinical moral treatment advocated by neuroethics, ethical literary criticism does not diagnose a particular reader as a “moral patient” in advance, but instead thinks it necessary for all people to get good moral instruction so as to make better ethical choices in everyday life. It advocates the use of good works to improve the moral sense of readers, while it still believes that readers are free subjects who can choose books they like to read, rather than morally weak patients who need to be cured by medicines or operation as neuroscientists do. By emphasizing on the moral teaching function of literature to guide people to the morally credible way of life, Nie’s brain text theory expresses clearly its moral stand and serves as a new humanistic approach to moral education.


brain text, ethical literary criticism, neuroethics, moral education

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)