NEW333-Lecture 1&2

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12 Feb 2012
School
Department
Course
Professor
NEW333 Buddhism and Cog science
Office hours M215-415, F 115-215 SS4093
John.vervaeke@gmail.com
416 978 7306
Test 1 OCT 21st (25%)
2 sections:
1:Short essay answer (3-4 paragraphs) choice of 10 or so
How relevant, insights drawn from, demonstrate understanding of
material and can critically appropriate….Not just about reproducing
content
2: An integrative argumentative essay. Expected to put forth a thesis (a
claim that something is the case) Thesis must be clear, course
relevant.
Topic proposal for PCT28th (5%)
1 Page document, proposal for essay topic
3 paragraphs
1st discussion of topic (no thesis required)
2nd brief argument as to how and why relevant to this course
3rd Why you can cover it in a 3000 word essay, (appropriate scale)
+++minimum 5 sources. APA style (academic---Peer reviewed journals,
immediately apparent why that source is relevant-may be explained in
topic proposal)
Essay due NOV25 (30%)
A thesis that can be rationally argued againt, something that someone
could initially say (mmm, I don’t know)…And clear and persuasive.
Think of counter arguments and criticisms and respond to them
Must use proper citation. Cite words and ideas
A proper title page, scholastic paper
(must hand in essay proposal -the one marked- with the essay)
Final Exam-same format- 40%
Cumulative, with emphasis on later parts
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LECTURE #1
Why are we doing this course?
Trying to pick up on the powerful confluence between Cog Sci and
Buddhism
Part of the appropriation of Buddhism by the West. Western Buddhsim.
Lots of attempts being made understanding how western culture can
and should appropriate Buddhism.
As Buddhism moves away from its place of origin, it changes.
Philisophical shifts. Enormously resilient.
Buddhism is gaining in the West, going through another one of these
restructurings
Argument : Cog sci seems to be one of the best ways to appropriate
Buddhism into the WWest
Whys should cog sci be interested in Buddhism?
Meaning crisis in the West:
The scientific world view- universe showing no plan, order, inherent
morality. Cognitive science goes with that. Challenges fundamental
understanding of who and what we are
But cog sci is coming to understand how central MEANING is to human
cognition.
We know where to get knowledge, but where do you get wisdom?-
what is needed to get out of foolishness? Answers are not so easy, so
forth coming. (YES THEY ARE!)
Cog sci and Buddhism view of cognition confluent… but Buddhism is a
path to wisdom.
Perhaps Buddhism can provide a scientifically respectable way to
address the meaning crisis. Both sides will have to give and take
HISTORY of BUDDHISM OF THE WEST
After the collapse of Alexander the great empire. Some of the empire
breaks away forms an independent country called Bactria. Greek
philosophy being integrated with Buddhist thinking.
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Sidarth Gautamo- emplicitely said not to be deified. Greeks of Bactria
broke this wish, took the god of appolo, put Buddhism robes on him.
The images of Buddha come from western source. Not surprising~!
Westerners are objectifiers!
Fast forward 19th century
Schopenhauer- first academics from West to talk about Buddhism
He was a pessimist, life wasn’t worth living. He interpreted Buddhism
as being nihilistic, life isn’t worth it, it’s all illusion. Buddhism is about
dying psychologically.
Escapist kind of philosophy. Lesson. How the west tries to appropriate
Buddhism is very important. Profound impact
Next attempt :Theosophical society
Gnostic movement, esoteric, magical interpretation of Buddhism.
About mental powers, secret powers. Buddhism became associated
with magical pursuits. Escapist, supernatural abilities.
Vervaeke is commited to naturalism, and naturalism can ground a deep
kind of spirituality.
This is a contradiction to Buddha original teachings
“if one offers to perform a miracle, he is not one of my disciples”-
Buddha quote
ANOTHER MOVEMET- THE BEAT GENERATION
Advocated an approach to Buddhism as Bohemian romanticism. Let go
of inhibition, live on the road, live intuitively and impulsively. Anti
intellectual, counter-cultural romanticism
Resurface in the hippie movement.
Unfair to Buddhism. It is not anti-intellectualist.
Also it has been tried to interpret Buddhism through Christianity
WE HAVE TO DROP THESE, EMPTY THE CUP
WE are trying to appropriate via Cognitive science
WHAT is COG SCI, Why IS it Good as a framework??
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