The Dalai Lama has said that Buddhism and science are deeply compatible and has encouraged Western scholars to critically examine both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind. A number of scientists and philosophers have taken up this challenge. There have been brain scans of meditators and philosophical examinations of Buddhist doctrines. There have even been discussions of Darwin and the Buddha: Do early Buddhist descriptions of the mind, and of the human condition, make particular sense in light of evolutionary psychology?
This course will examine how Buddhism is faring under this scrutiny. Are neuroscientists starting to understand how meditation “works”? Would such an understanding validate meditation—or might physical explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it? And how are some of the basic Buddhist claims about the human mind holding up? We’ll pay special attention to some highly counterintuitive doctrines: that the self doesn’t exist, and that much of perceived reality is in some sense illusory. Do these claims, radical as they sound, make a certain kind of sense in light of modern psychology? And what are the implications of all this for how we should live our lives? Can meditation make us not just happier, but better people?
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
Rooswilhelmcompleted this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I really liked this course. Prof Robert Wright is very likeable and somehow manages to discuss issues that are both complex and vague in a very clear way. The course looks into evolutionary psychology and buddhist philosophy, and how this relates to daily life. Although this may sound rather heavy-handed, the course remains light-hearted, academic (you do not have to fear any kind of preaching) and very interesting.
Dolly Yecompleted this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
I took it last October, at the lowest point of my point. Robert Wright has introduced me to the fascinating world of evolutionary psychology,moral psychology and neuroscience. He's the most compassionate and interesting teacher I've known.Strongly recommend his book "The Moral Animal" and "The Evolution of God." They are hands down the best books ever written on the subjects.
Tim Andrewsaudited this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
Robert Wright examines classical Buddhist teaching and meditation practice through the lens of evolutionary psychology. He posits the question "Is Buddhism True" (also the title of his new book based on the course) and finds that indeed some Buddhist ideas and practices do fit rather well with the latest science. This confluence of ideas offers no less than a way to reduce human suffering and to see the world more clearly.
The course consists mainly of lectures to camera and further reading and so is pretty tradintional, but I did find Wright to have a genuine and winning style. The course is further enhanced by links to Wright's video blog channel 'meaningoflife.TV' where he interviews many eminent buddhist scholars and social psychologists.
Overall, highly recommended for anyone interested in human behaviour and how to live a more moral and harmonious life. My tip for best course of 2017.
Sylvia Amarcompleted this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
It's a very interesting course in you have both interests in psychology and buddhism. It's a course which helps you to be a better person and to helps you to reflect on the world and what you really are.