Buddhism, Mind, and Cognitive Science

Buddhism, Mind, and Cognitive Science Conference

April 25, 2014

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


  • 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

Conference, April 25-26, 2014
Toll Room, Alumni House, University of California, Berkeley