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Showing Rating details. Sort order. Oct 16, Suzanne rated it it was ok Shelves: buddhism. Check this out of the library, if you're interested, but don't buy it. I can't even sell it to a used book dealer or give it away. On the basis of the title and the sample, I expected an ultimately agnostic work that would be skeptical of both science and the supernatural; that would explore what we know and what we don't know and that would admit that there is much that we don't know and cannot know. The title is Check this out of the library, if you're interested, but don't buy it.
B. Alan Wallace
The title is deceptive -- he is not a Buddhist skeptic. He is a Tibetan Buddhist who is skeptical of science, and an out-dated science at that. Part I is an excellent refutation of the materialist dogma that the mind is nothing more than the brain, including neuropsychology and other psychological schools of the late 19th through midth centuries.
As Thomas Kuhn argued years ago, the paradigm within which we work determines the questions we will ask, the methods which we will employ to explore those questions, the data which we will accept as legitimate and even be able to collect, and therefore, the answers that we will find and the interpretations we will put on them.
Then we come to Part II, in which Wallace replaces skepticism with true belief in his dogmas, even while calling on scientists to become skeptical of theirs. He does not seem to appreciate that the arguments he employed in the first part also apply to his own paradigmatic views.
He replaces the scientists' demand for objective evidence with a demand that scientists accept subjective evidence. He seems to think that, if enough people claim something is true, that makes it true. I rather lost it when he claimed that, because of karma and rebirth, people are born with birthmarks that indicate their manner of death in a previous life, for instance, a mark that shows where a bullet entered and an even large mark where it exited.
Books | Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic
What is his evidence for this? The people claim to remember their previous life and death. I was left to wonder if those marks accumulate or represent only the most recent death.
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- Meditations of a Buddhist Skeptic.
I also wonder whether he would say that we bear any signs of non-human incarnations. He also doesn't seem to be at all aware of post-modern thought, of social construction theory, of constructivism and personal construct theory, of qualitative research. It's as if he stopped reading Western thought when he left college. I'm not surprised to see that his undergraduate degree is in physics and the philosophy of science and his graduate degree in religious studies. His lack of social science knowledge is rather glaring. Alan Wallace is among the foremost practitioner-teachers of Buddhism today.
Kindle Locations He grew up in California, Scotland, and Switzerland. For the next 13 years he studied and meditated in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in India and Europe, and he came to serve as a translator for the Dalai Lama. After this phase of his life, he returned to academia to complete a degree at Amherst College in physics and philosophy of science. After another meditation retreat, he entered graduate studies in religion at Stanford University.
Alan Wallace website. Since then he has taught, written a number of books for both academic and popular audiences, and he continues to teach meditation. Having read several of his works and now in the midst of listening to podcasts of his meditation retreats, I find him one of the most intriguing, no-nonsense, and persuasive teachers of Buddhism active today.
One of the attractive aspects of Buddhism to me and to many others, especially those of us coming from Western traditions, is its radical empiricism and willingness to undergo scrutiny. Wallace scrutinizes the Buddhist tradition, but the main target of his skepticism is Western materialism. Wallace is especially critical of academic psychology for its abandonment of the legacy of William James, who valued and promoted introspection as important source of data about the mind.
Indeed, James is obviously in intellectual hero to Wallace, as well as a great many others—including me. Wallace is uniquely qualified to challenge the citadel of materialism from his background in physics and philosophy of science combined with his experience in Buddhism. Wallace makes these assertions as one who has been on the other side of reality from the majority of Western scientists and philosophers who adhere to the simple materialist paradigm.
Wallace also notes the importance of ethical behavior in Buddhism and its effect on our perception of the world. This, too, contrasts markedly with the value-free attitude of Western science. But mind—as in the form of information—is a part of our reality. This is not Buddhism. Buddhist mindfulness involves mindfulness of right conduct, effort, and livelihood, among other things. All of this simply touches the surface of all that Wallace addresses and argues. His appreciation of the history and enterprise of Western science, Western philosophy and psychology, and traditional Buddhism make him a formidable author.
If you want to come into the deep end of the pool, you not find many guides as worthwhile as Wallace. Feb 26, okei marked it as to-read-more. The rise to prominence in the 19th century of belief in scientific materialism, while resolving the Cartesian mind-body problem by seeing all as body matter , in doing so suspended the possibility for an introspective approach to psychology to develop following its foundation as a scientific discipline in , independently by Wilhelm Wundt in Germany and William James in America.
We are still in the grip of dogmatic materialism.
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Alan Wallace would like to see a rejection of dogma, either duali The rise to prominence in the 19th century of belief in scientific materialism, while resolving the Cartesian mind-body problem by seeing all as body matter , in doing so suspended the possibility for an introspective approach to psychology to develop following its foundation as a scientific discipline in , independently by Wilhelm Wundt in Germany and William James in America. Alan Wallace would like to see a rejection of dogma, either dualistic or monistic, and a return to empiricism, that is a willingness to put cherished assumptions, including those of Buddhism and science, to the test of experience.
Belief and even reason are subordinate to direct perception. View all 3 comments. Aug 09, Ariadne Deborah Fassel rated it it was amazing. International Journal of Dream Research. Phuket: The Thaiger. Retrieved Topics in Buddhism. Outline Glossary Index. Category Portal. Modern Buddhist writers 19th century to date.
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