Advances in cognitive science have enlarged and challenged traditional concepts of mind, will, and self. This seminar explores the nature of mind as embodied without sacrificing respect for the significance of immediate experience, personal agency, and social responsibility. The seminar takes its name from a foundational text published twenty five years ago (Varela, Thompson & Rosch, MIT Press, 1991).
Working from their combined expertise in neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology, these authors provided a framework including principles of phenomenology and Buddhism. Because the book is now 25 years old, its technical presentations are no longer current. But the framework it established remains sturdy, and has been elaborated by Thompson in his recent book Waking, Sleeping, Being (Columbia U. Press, 2014), which we will use as a primary text.
The seminar will allow students to comprehend this framework and contrast it with alternatives both traditional and novel. Students will have the opportunity to practice meditations with guidance.