Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buddhism & Science

     "Typically third culture Scientists address and posit answers to questions that were previously deemed to be the sole domain of theologians and philosophers. As Natural Science approaches are asserted as being the sole benchmark of validity, attempts are made to either process and reduce spiritual experience through an instrumentalist incarnation of science (as has previously been demonstrated) or to attempt to relate scientific worldviews, insights and discoveries to ancient spiritual teachings and religious scriptures. One popular attempt at the latter was Fritjof Capra’s (2000) bestselling ‘The Tao of Physics’ which had the subtitle of ‘an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism’. One critical issue with this kind of approach is that it appears to only validate religious worldviews in proportion to these perceived ‘parallels’; so that religion is deemed relevant and ‘rational’ only to the extent that it can be made (or be made to appear) to conform to currently popular scientific worldviews and methods. In this way religion may be seen as a mere primitive precursor to scientific discovery; surviving only by emulating and associating with the dominant positivist paradigms; Buddhist meditation is not valued or validated on the basis of 2500 years of carefully recorded experiential evidence but rather on the comparatively recent experimental findings that brain activity is being measurably affected."

       Cohen E. From the Bodhi tree, to the analyst’s couch, then into the MRI scanner: the psychologisation of Buddhism. Annual Review of Critical Psychology 2010; 8: 97–119. http://www.discourseunit.com/arcp/arcp8/arcp8cohen.pdf

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