Indian Philosophy Can Impart Deep Understanding to The Field of Cognitive Science

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Indian philosophy particularly that of the Buddhism, can impart deep understanding and knowledge to the field of cognitive science.


Ahmedabad, Gujarat, March 29, 2014 -(PressReleasePoint)- Indian philosophy particularly that of the Buddhism, can impart deep understanding and knowledge to the field of cognitive science. This is what professor William Waldron of Middlebury College said in his talk titled “Yogācāra Buddhism and Cognitive Science: Constructing and Deconstructing Dualistic Experience” at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) on Friday (March 28, 2014).

Drawing commonalities between Buddhist philosophies and cognitive science in their understanding of cognitive processes, professor Waldron said “People in cognitive scientists should learn more of Indian philosophy. At the moment they are not taking it very seriously.”

Citing an example of scientists learning from Indian knowledge, professor Waldron said that various neuroscientists have been looking at Indian meditators for about 20 years. However, they are not that interested in the Indian philosophy which is partly because they are scientists and not philosophers.

Professor Waldron said, “Cognitive science is a broad field. Some of the people in Cognitive Science are philosophers and those people ought to study Indian Philosophy and some of them are starting too. They should study Indian philosophy because it is a view which is similar to their approach. Both of them are interested in causality. Indians have thought about Causality and causal models of mind for 2000 years where as cognitive science has been dealing with it for about forty to fifty years. So there is a lot more depth in the Indian Philosophy.”

In his talk professor Waldron said that both Yogācāra Buddhist thought and modern cognitive science argue that our cognitive processes fundamentally construct our experience. We experience our world as if we were independent, essential subjects ‘in here’ looking out at independently existing objects ‘out there’—an implicit sense that philosopher Daniel Dennett has called the ‘Cartesian Theater.’ Both Yogācāra and cognitive science argue, though, that this ‘duality of subject and object’ (grāhya-grāhaka-dvaya) is constructed by our innate cognitive predispositions (vāsanā), which prevent us from recognizing the interactive and processual nature of experience. Buddhist and cognitive analyses, they also concur, can help us see our experience as it is—as deeply constructed—and thus ‘liberate’ us from false appearances.


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