Mahayana Buddhism versus
Is the mind just a physical machine? Is there anything that could survive the death of the body?
Materialism states that your mind is either the same thing as your brain, or else is a program running on the hardware of your brain. In either case, once the brain shuts down the mind ceases to exist.
Mahayana Buddhism teaches that the most important aspect of the mind, the intuitive or 'subtle' mind, is non-physical and is reborn after this life.
So who's right? This site investigates the surprising correspondences between science and the Mahayana Buddhist view of mind and matter. The main area is an alphabetically arranged list of topics.
The view put forward in this website is that the mind isn't just something
that arises from the body and ceases when the body dies, but is a fundamental aspect of
all existence. Quantum physics suggests that the
classical materialist view of all things being explainable by dependence on physical
causes and structures is inadequate, and the presence of mind (as discussed in sunyata) is necessary to turn potentialities into actualities.
The sections on artificial intelligence, formless mind, qualia, sentience and symbiotic minds reveal difficulties with a purely physical description of the basis of mind, and highlight the failure of computerised artificial intelligence to simulate the processes of the mind. The failure of computer systems to cope with with sentience, understanding of meaning and qualia (qualitative experience) demonstrates that a whole dimension of existence is absent from a purely physical interpretation of the universe.
Although written from a Buddhist viewpoint, the site contains useful introductory information for anyone interested in the mind/body problem.
Other mind/matter issues covered are the origins of the feud between science and religion (obscurantism) and the materialists' criticism that all religions are mental parasites or memes (meme analysis of religion), with the same way of spreading as chain letters.
The meme analysis is the most devastating criticism of religious beliefs
yet devised, and as the meme-meme is spreading rapidly among scientifically educated
people it needs to be refuted, otherwise no credence can be given to any philosophy which
has its origins in a religious worldview. This site argues that Buddhism isn't a
closed self-referential loop, but is a method of producing verifiable, reproducible mental
phenomena. Buddhism also lacks the intolerance and paranoia typical of memes. Since
intolerance, paranoia, self-reference and lack of empirical verification are the defining
attributes of memes, Buddhism is not a meme. Rather it is a practically-oriented
philosophy of the mind.
More specifically Buddhist issues are:- what it means to be a sentient being, the correlations between Buddhist teachings on dukkha and modern ideas in sociobiology, genetics and Darwinism. There are also short introductions to Mahayana philosophy, meditation , compassion in Buddhist teachings, and the practices of Lamrim, Lojong and Mahamudra.
Some of the following articles are not yet full length as this site is under constant development. The Scimah pages will eventually cover all fields of mutual interest to science and Mahayana philosophy, though this may take some time and will require continual updating. If you don't find the contents, references or links that you require please come back in a few weeks.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Computers and minds
Gödel's incompleteness theorem
Inherent existence - lack of, see emptiness
Laws of physics - their anthropic origin
Meme theory and memetics
Participatory Anthropic Principle
Rebirth - reincarnation
COOLBOARD - DISCUSSIONS ON THIS AND OTHER SITES DEALING WITH CONSCIOUSNESS AND MIND
Scimah pages February 2000
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