Webcasts

Buddhism, Mind, and Cognitive Science
Conference, April 25-26, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House, University of California, Berkeley

This conference was made possible by a grant from The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation.

This conference is dedicated to the exploration of the methodological underpinnings of the current encounter between Buddhism and cognitive science. Recently, this encounter has been criticized for failing to take account of the historical and cultural complexities of Buddhist thought and practice, failing to reflect the most recent developments in cognitive science, neglecting the hermeneutic issues that complicate attempts to relate traditional Buddhist psychology to contemporary scientific theories, and neglecting traditional Buddhist epistemologies that are incompatible with the "neurophysicalism" that motivates some of the scientific research. Given such critiques, how might one proceed? Is there some way to mitigate the methodological (historical, hermeneutic, philosophical) quandaries that threaten to unravel the Buddhism-cognitive science dialogue? Is there a way to bring these disparate traditions into conversation without sacrificing the intellectual depth and sophistication of each? Or is such an endeavor misguided in principle? Is it merely another in a long history of attempts to legitimize Buddhism by claiming its compatibility with science? Our interest lies not in rehearsing the critique, but instead in exploring how, if at all, the encounter might move forward.

Participants:

  • Robert Sharf (Buddhist Studies), University of California, Berkeley
  • Evan Thompson (Philosophy), University of British Columbia
  • Clifford Saron (Neuroscience), University of California, Davis
  • John Dunne (Buddhist Studies), Emory University Antoine Lutz
  • Lawrence Barsalou (Psychology), Emory University
  • Antoine Lutz (Neuroscience), Neuroscience Research Center, Lyon
  • Rebecca Todd (Psychology), University of British Columbia
  • Laurence Kirmayer (Psychiatry), McGill University
  • Carol Worthman (Anthropology), Emory University
  • Christian Coseru (Philosophy), College of Charleston
  • Thomas Metzinger (Philosophy), Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
  • Dan Arnold (Philosophy of Religion), University of Chicago
  • Georges Dreyfus (Buddhist Studies), Williams College
  • John Tresch (History and Sociology of Science), University of Pennsylvania

Matthew T. Kapstein, Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies, The University of Chicago Divinity School
Tibet in the Age of Manuscripts: Reflections on Recent Textual Discoveries
2012 Khyentse lecture
Thursday, February 16, 2012, 5 pm

During the past few decades, the discovery, cataloguing, and partial publication of important Tibetan manuscript collections has substantially transformed our view of the intellectual and religious history of Tibet. Important developments about which we were almost entirely ignorant only a decade ago may now be studied in detail thanks to copious newly available documentation. The present talk will review aspects of the recent manuscript finds, considering their implications for our understanding of Tibetan cultural history more generally.

Matthew T. Kapstein specializes in the history of Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet, as well as in the cultural history of Tibetan Buddhism more generally. Kapstein has published a dozen books and numerous articles, among the most recent of which are a general introduction to Tibetan cultural history, The Tibetans (Oxford 2006), an edited volume on Sino-Tibetan religious relations, Buddhism Between Tibet and China (Boston 2009), and a translation of an eleventh-century philosophical allegory in the acclaimed Clay Sanskrit Series, The Rise of Wisdom Moon (New York 2009). With Kurtis Schaeffer (University of Virginia) and Gray Tuttle (Columbia), he has completed "Sources of Tibetan Traditions," to be published in the Columbia University Press Sources of Asian Traditions series in early 2012. Kapstein is additionally Director of Tibetan Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris.