Alex Wright

Buddha on the brain

November 27, 2006

Salon is running an interview with Alan Wallace, discussing the relationship between Buddhism and neuroscience. Wallace makes the case that while Buddhism may not be exactly a "science," modern science has itself taken on a kind of religiosity that ultimately limits its perspective.

[S]cience is not just science. This very notion that the mind must simply be an emergent property of the brain -- consisting only of physical phenomena and nothing more -- is not a testable hypothesis. Science is based upon a very profound metaphysical foundation. Can you test the statement that there is nothing else going on apart from physical phenomena and their emergent properties? The answer is no.
I'm not saying we should fuse religion with science. Rather, we should select very specific methodologies from Buddhism and other contemplative traditions where the ability to monitor the mind has been honed over thousands of years -- beginning with the training of attention and then using sophisticated methods for investigating the nature of the mind, feelings and the very nature of consciousness itself during the waking state, the dream state, even during deep sleep. Now, because of the great advances in transportation and communications, we have easy access to the Taoist tradition of China, the Sufi tradition of the Near East, the Buddhist tradition of Tibet and Southeast Asia. I'm convinced this would add much greater depth and breadth to the types of questions that are raised in modern cognitive science.
> B. Alan Wallace, Buddha on the brain (registration required)

File under: Dharma

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