The Bodhisattva's Brain
Buddhism NaturalizedBook - 2013
If we are material beings living in a material world -- and all the scientificevidence suggests that we are -- then we must find existential meaning, if there is such a thing, inthis physical world. We must cast our lot with the natural rather than the supernatural. ManyWesterners with spiritual (but not religious) inclinations are attracted to Buddhism -- almost as akind of moral-mental hygiene. But, as Owen Flanagan points out in The Bodhisattva'sBrain, Buddhism is hardly naturalistic. In The Bodhisattva's Brain,Flanagan argues that it is possible to discover in Buddhism a rich, empirically responsiblephilosophy that could point us to one path of human flourishing.
Some claim thatneuroscience is in the process of validating Buddhism empirically, but Flanagan's naturalizedBuddhism does not reduce itself to a brain scan showing happiness patterns. "Buddhism naturalized,"as Flanagan constructs it, offers instead a fully naturalistic and comprehensive philosophy,compatible with the rest of knowledge -- a way of conceiving of the human predicament, of thinkingabout meaning for finite material beings living in a material world.