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

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


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
  • share


Arthur Zajonc

Arthur Zajonc, PhD, was professor of physics at Amherst College from 1978 to 2012, when he became President of the Mind & Life Institute. His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities and the contemplative traditions. He has also written extensively on Goethe’s science work. He is author of the book: Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of Science. In 1997, he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He organized the 2002 dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life,” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” Mind and Life dialogue in 2003, the proceedings of which were published under the title The Dalai Lama at MIT. While directing the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Arthur fostered the use of contemplative practice in college and university classrooms, and he continues to speak around the world on the importance of contemplative pedagogy. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc has most recently authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love. He has also been General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.