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Meditation, Buddhism, and Science$
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David McMahan and Erik Braun

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190495794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190495794.001.0001

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Reflections on Indian Buddhist Thought and the Scientific Study of Meditation, or

Reflections on Indian Buddhist Thought and the Scientific Study of Meditation, or

Why Scientists Should Talk More with Their Buddhist Subjects

(p.84) 5 Reflections on Indian Buddhist Thought and the Scientific Study of Meditation, or
Meditation, Buddhism, and Science

William S. Waldron

Oxford University Press

One of the fundamental distinctions in the modern academy is the difference between studying human life as people experience it and studying it in terms of impersonal causal processes—the so-called first- and third-person approaches. This dichotomy is reflected in the study of meditation, in which neuroscientists attempt to correlate their “objective” findings with the “subjective” reports of meditators. This very distinction, though, invites two extremes: either these discourses are ultimately incommensurable or one discourse—the subjective—should be reduced to the “true,” objective discourse. This chapter criticizes putatively pure subjectivity or objectivity from Buddhist philosophical perspectives, especially the non-duality of subject and object, and seeks to articulate a middle ground between reductionism and incommensurability.

Keywords:   causality, meditation, objectivity, subjectivity, non-duality, reductionism, incommensurability

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