We will introduce the central themes of this meeting, discussing from scientific and philosophical perspectives the key questions in the study of perception, concepts and the self that will be considered this week. We will discuss the constructive nature of cognition, the possibility and possible nature of preconceptual cognition, and distinctions among different concepts of the self as articulated both in the Western philosophical and scientific and Buddhist traditions, as well as the origins of these concepts in our biology. We will discuss the possibility of neural and cognitive plasticity in each of these domains and, where there is evidence, the impact of different forms of contemplative training on these processes will be reviewed. We will attend to the variety of methodologies for studying these phenomena, the potential for collaboration between the Tibetan and Western traditions, and the implications of these questions for ethical development and for education in secular ethics.

  • Dialogue 30
    19 sessions
  • December 14, 2015
    Sera Monastery, Bylakuppe, India
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Jay Garfield

Jay Garfield, PhD, is Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Humanities and Head of Studies in Philosophy at Yale-NUS College, Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Smith College, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies. He studies the philosophy of mind and foundations of cognitive science, Buddhist philosophy, 19th and 20th Century In dian philosophy, hermeneutics, ethics, logic and developmental psycholinguistics. He is author or editor of over 20 books and over 100 scholarly articles. Jay's most recent books are Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness (with the Cowherds); The Moon Points Back: Buddhism, Logic and Analytic Philosophy (with the Koji Tanaka, Graham Priest and Yasuo Deguchi); Madhyamaka and Yogācāra: Allies or Rivals (with Jan Westerhoff); and Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy.

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.