Why Dialogue? Buddhist and Scientific Perspectives Part II

Why Dialogue? Buddhist and Scientific Perspectives Part II


For many years, physicist Arthur Zajonc and neuroscientist Richard Davidson have worked with the Dalai Lama at the intersection of contemporary science and Buddhist thought. They offered their views on the power of this dialogue, and its significance for themselves and their work. This leads to larger questions of wider importance. Why are Western scientists interested in a dialogue with Buddhism or the contemplative traditions more generally? What are the areas of science where this dialogue has been felt to be most fruitful, and why? What can Buddhist scholars and monastics potentially contribute to the work of Western science, why should they be motivated to do so, and what has been accomplished so far? In addition, Zajonc and Davidson explored some elementary perceptual puzzles that demonstrate the methods, insights, and also the limits, of physics, neuroscience and consciousness studies. In particular, what can one learn about the significance of context and relationship for observation and cognition generally? Where does physics leave off and the science of the mind begin? What is the difference between them, and how are they related?

  • Dialogue 26
    27 sessions
  • January 17, 2013
    Drepung Monastery, Mundgod, India
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Richard Davidson

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is the founder and chairman of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, and the director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, both at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his bachelor’s of arts and PhD degrees, respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career, he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James professor and Vilas research professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of 13 books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature, The Handbook of Affective Science, and The Emotional Life of Your Brain. Davidson has published more than 300 chapters and journal articles, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the board of directors for the Mind & Life Institute since 1992. In 2006, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the role of the brain and the conscious mind in healing.