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Buddhism, Mind, and Cognitive Science

Conference/Symposium | April 25 | 4-7 p.m. | Alumni House, Toll Room


Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai


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. Given such critiques, how might one proceed? Is there some 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? Our interest lies not in rehearsing the critique, but instead in exploring how, if at all, the encounter might move forward.

Friday, April 25, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House
Session 1: 4:00 – 7:00 pm
Welcome and introduction to the conference:
• Robert Sharf (Buddhist Studies), University of California, Berkeley
Plenary talks:
• Evan Thompson (Philosophy), University of British Columbia
• Clifford Saron (Neuroscience), University of California, Davis
Open discussion

Saturday, April 26, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House
Session 2: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Chair: Robert Sharf (Buddhist Studies), University of California, Berkeley
Presentations:
• John Dunne (Buddhist Studies), Emory University Antoine Lutz
• Lawrence Barsalou (Psychology), Emory University
• Antoine Lutz (Neuroscience), Neuroscience Research Center, Lyon
• Rebecca Todd (Psychology), University of British Columbia
• Laurence Kirmayer (Psychiatry), McGill University
• Carol Worthman (Anthropology), Emory University

Saturday, April 26, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House
Session 3: 2:00 – 6:30 pm
Chair: Evan Thompson (Philosophy), University of British Columbia
Presentations:
• Christian Coseru (Philosophy), College of Charleston
• Thomas Metzinger (Philosophy), Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
• Dan Arnold (Philosophy of Religion), University of Chicago
• Georges Dreyfus (Buddhist Studies), Williams College
• Robert Sharf (Buddhist Studies), University of California, Berkeley
• John Tresch (History and Sociology of Science), University of Pennsylvania


buddhiststudies@berkeley.edu, 510-643-5104