Our “real responsibility,” H.H. the Dalai Lama has suggested, is to find a “new approach” or “more holistic view” for the 21st century. A good place to begin might be a holistic understanding of meditation. Yet, is such a view fully articulable in current contemplative science and embodied philosophy? Do concepts such as cognitive ecology manage to offer an integral understanding of meditation, or do they remained involved in “heroic feats of explaining away” (Whitehead). My project is grounded in the recent post-secular turn in contemporary thought, particularly among constructivist philosophers, who ask whether the notion of autopoiesis might be replaced with a notion of “sympoiesis” (Haraway) and whether enactivist models might shift from a neurophenomenological to an etho-ecological approach. While MLI has made extraordinary progress in expanding the scientific understanding of the effects of meditation on brain, behavior, emotion, and perception, the neurophenomenological approach has tended to bracket the relationship between meditation and the nature of mind. I hope to question the assumption that the nature of mind lies outside the scope of scientific inquiry by turning to Whitehead, who argued that philosophy, repudiated by science, has abandoned its vital role, which is to “[confront] the sciences with concrete fact.” For Whitehead, of course, what science tends to call concrete facts are actually abstractions – as famously expressed in his critiques of the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness” of the fallacy of “isolated location.” Does a less reductionist, and more etho-ecological, understanding of mind require a postsecular turn? To answer this question, I am conducting interviews with integral philosophers, critical theorists, and Buddhist philosophers in India and North America.

William Rubel

This project in alternative secular epistemologies is rooted in several months of intensive research and writing completed as a Mind & Life visiting scholar in Amherst in 2015, as well … MORE