The Sweep of Science: Mind, Brain, and Matter Part I

The Sweep of Science: Mind, Brain, and Matter Part I


Thupten Jinpa began the afternoon with a presentation establishing conceptual links between the two investigative traditions of Buddhist thought and contemporary science, drawing especially on key aspects of classical Buddhist epistemology. Questions in the philosophy of science, such as the relationship between scientific claims and truth, scientific method and its legitimate scope, and the central role of observation, hypothesis and experiment verification in science will be addressed and contrasted with relevant notions in classical Buddhist philosophical inquiry. Arthur Zajonc, Wendy Hasenkamp and John Durant followed up the questions and insights offered by Thupten Jinpa, by providing an orientation to the specific areas of science that will be the focus of the dialogues for the week: physics, neuroscience, and consciousness studies. While each of these fields of science shares methods and epistemological assumptions with the others, each also has its own story, its own preferred methods, and its own animating questions. Together, Zajonc, Hasenkamp and Durant aimed to tell these background stories. How does physics think about and investigate the nature of material reality? How do neuroscientists study the brain, and why do they think it is the organ of mind? Where does consciousness fit into the world picture of Western science?

  • Dialogue 26
    27 sessions
  • January 17, 2013
    Drepung Monastery, Mundgod, India
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Thupten Jinpa

Thupten Jinpa, PhD, was trained as a monk at the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. In addition, Jinpa holds a bachelor’s honors degree in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from Cambridge University. He taught at Ganden monastery and worked as a research fellow in Eastern religions at Girton College, Cambridge University. Jinpa has been the principal English translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1985 and has translated and edited numerous books by the Dalai Lama, including the New York Times best-sellers Ethics for the New Millennium and The Art of Happiness, as well as Beyond Religion, Universe in a Single Atom, and Transforming the Mind. His own publications include, in addition to numerous Tibetan works, Essential Mind Training; Wisdom of the Kadam Masters; Self, Reality, and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle View; as well as translations of major Tibetan works featured in The Library of Tibetan Classics series. He is the main author of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), an eight-week formal program developed at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. Jinpa is an adjunct professor on the faculty of religious studies at McGill University, Montreal; the founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, Montreal; and the general series editor of The Library of Tibetan Classics series. He has been a core member of the Mind & Life Institute from its inception. Jinpa lives in Montreal and is married with two daughters.