The Science Delusion

6a00e5537c83be88340115709d1603970b-800wiTricycle Magazine: The Buddhist Review offers wisdom, meditation, and practices from an ancient tradition for contemporary life. In Spring 2014, it featured an interview with the cultural critic Curtis White, whose book The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers, a follow-up to his 2003 international bestseller The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don’t Think For Themselves, attacks the ideology of scientism, or “the claim that science has got the world nailed down (or soon will, anyway), that the answer to all of our human problems lies in the discovery of natural laws, or that submitting to a scientific perspective is a choiceless imperative dictated by impersonal facts.” A response to Richard Dawkins’ The God DelusionThe Science Delusion argues that STEM disciplines have taken over our narrative of what it means to be human, reducing us to functions within systems. “Neuroscience’s claim to be able to understand meditation in terms of the mechanics of neurons and chemicals is another example of ideological storytelling,” White says. “You can have Buddhism, this story goes, as long as you are willing to acknowledge that it can be best understood through neuroscience.” He warns agains the appropriation of scientific ideas for the benefit of corporate culture, such as the Search Inside Yourself program at Google, making people believe that their prisons are pleasure domes.

About the author

Ben Ehrlich

Ben Ehrlich's new book "The Dreams of Santiago Ramón y Cajal" will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Ben is a 2015 Salzburg Global Seminar fellow in Neuroscience and Art.

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  • Modern science continues to expand our knowledge of the selective knowable reality because it continues to create more sophisticated sense-dependent measuring instruments (such as the electron microscope, PET scanner, telescopes, X-ray astronomy detectors, and the like) that allow us to investigate previously unknown aspects of the world. This, however, does not change the fact that what is being expanded is merely such knowledge as is available through the khandhas and cognitive apparatus. However, in fact, basic Reality, the reality which exists independently of us, remains inaccessible in any direct way. As Karl Mannheim stated: ‘[…] The world as “world” exists only with reference to the knowing mind, and the mental activity of the subject determines the form in which it appears. […] This is the first stage in the dissolution of an ontological dogmatism which regarded the “world” as existing independently of us, in a fixed and definitive form.’

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