Buddhism, Mind, and Cognitive Science

Image of the head of stone Buddha statue.
Friday, Apr 25, 2014 to Saturday, Apr 26, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House
United States

This conference is dedicated to the exploration of the methodological underpinnings of the current encounter between Buddhism and cognitive science. Recently this encounter has been criticized for failing to take account of the historical and cultural complexities of Buddhist thought and practice; failing to reflect the most recent developments in cognitive science; neglecting the hermeneutic issues that complicate attempts to relate traditional Buddhist psychology to contemporary scientific theories; and neglecting traditional Buddhist epistemologies that are incompatible with the “neurophysicalism” that motivates some of the scientific research. Is there a way to mitigate the methodological (historical, hermeneutic, philosophical) quandaries that threaten to unravel the Buddhism-cognitive science dialogue? Is there a way to bring these disparate traditions into conversation without sacrificing the intellectual depth and sophistication of each? Or is such an endeavor misguided in principle? Is it merely another in a long history of attempts to legitimize Buddhism by claiming its compatibility with science? This conference is interested in exploring how, if at all, the encounter might move forward.

Participants include Dan Arnold (Philosophy of Religion, University of Chicago), Lawrence Barsalou (Psychology, Emory University), Christian Coseru (Philosophy, College of Charleston), Georges Dreyfus (Buddhist Studies, Williams College), John Dunne (Buddhist Studies, Emory University), Laurence Kirmayer (Psychiatry, McGill University), Antoine Lutz (Neuroscience Research Center), Lyon Thomas Metzinger (Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz), Clifford Saron (Neuroscience, UC Davis), Robert Sharf (Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley), Rebecca Todd (Psychology, University of British Columbia), Evan Thompson (Philosophy, University of British Columbia), John Tresch (History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania), Carol Worthman (Anthropology, Emory University).

Further event details and registration information can be found on the Buddhist Studies website.

Part of the 
Thinking the Self Initiative.