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MindScience Academy curates a series of articles with the intention to gloss and approach the ongoing exchange between scientific research and contemplative traditions. Through such endeavor, we shall try to expand the tools at the disposal of the critical reader and researcher, without the pretense of exhausting debate, on the contrary, multiplying and hybridizing its languages. This way, our column resembles the laboratory itself; critical, enzymatic, open to surprise and transformative experience.
Relationships and Society
In an uncertain and complex world, human beings have a natural inclination to construct narratives: stories that weave together the most different threads of their experiences into a coherent puzzle of meaning.
In this series of articles we discuss some of the key reflections of Bernard Stiegler's analysis on the link between digital technologies and the destruction of attention; on its consequences for individual and collective life.
The debate confronting the two paradigms partly relates to how we define that which is shared or universal. Even within its constructivist perspective, Barrett accepts the existence of universals. Indeed, his model envisages affects that are constantly fluctuating in valence (positive or negative).
The field of affective neuroscience has recently witnessed a vigorous debate between two different approaches to understanding emotions. The first, Basic Emotion Theories, also referred to by various names such as the mechanisms underlying them (emotion circuits, somatic markersand so on), or their supposed nature (nativism vs essentialism)
Now that the Buddhist traditions confront themselves with cognitive neuroscience and other natural sciences, trying to build up or expand an edifice for studying the mind and conscious experience, it seems vital to stand for the legitimacy and self-sufficiency of Buddhist traditional thought, maintaining critical distance from the prestige (and thus privilege) the scientific apparatus holds in modern western society.
From the XIX century on, Buddhism has been called to confront challenges and opportunities collateral to the religious and cultural structure that characterized it in the pre-modern period.
Charles Hampden-Turner's classic Mapping the Mind (1982) includes sixty mapping models of the human being, of his psyche. His map categories range from historical to religious, to psychoanalytic, existentialist, psychosocial, creative, linguistic-symbolic, cybernetic, structural and “paradigmatic” perspectives. From Taoism, St. Augustine, Blake, Darwin, Marx, Weber and Freud, up to Lacan, Bateson, Chomsky and Varela. For the time, Hampden-Turner's text is extremely sophisticated, rich, and accessible; today his approach desperately needs an update.
As described by linguist George Lackoff, a spatial metaphor (also orientational metaphor) is a conceptual metaphor in which the elements involved are spatially related to each other, i.e. they are respectively above or below, in or out, in front of or behind, in depth or on the surface, in the center or on the periphery, and so on.
Data-driven neuroscience from Buddhist meditation and mindfulness has gained enormous popularity recently. Yet, the transformative potential of man offered by Buddhism, under the fMRI scanner (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - delimited as an 'object' of study - can become sterile, inanimate, and inert when it is displaced from its performative dimensions, constitutive of its meaning.
The question we try to address here is: do we really understand what Buddhism is?
An article from The Guardian in 2019 states that the mindfulness movement has become the "new capitalist spirituality" – "magical thinking on steroids" that, instead of subverting the "neoliberal order," now "only serves to invigorate its destructive logic."
The idea of ​​neurons as a fundamental bioelectrical operating unit of the brain must now be seen in a broader context; recent neurobiological research is gradually repositioning this classical idea of ​​neurology in a relational perspective.