Re: Zen and the Brain (was Re: Zen? Atheist? ...)

From: Dan Adams (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 15:28:06 MDT

--- Ken Clements <> wrote:
> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > Well, since I'm such a fan of James H. Austin's
> _Zen and the Brain_ I
> > would like to suggest it. It looks at the
> neuroscience of Zen, a quite
> > interesting synthesis attempt.
> >
> I have been slowly working my way through this book,
> and would like to hear
> more on what you got out of it.
> -Ken

I read that book (*very* slowly) about a year ago and
was amazed by how insightful it was. There were parts
that were sketchy as to their relation/significance
but, Austen can hardly be blamed - he's got an
pre-modern, mystical account on one hand, and a
science in its developmental infancy in the other.
The dude deserves some kudos! It struck me as a sort
of techno-sutra in parts (but, that was probably
intentional/unavoidable - quite enjoyable).
 **five minutes elapses**
I've just pulled it off my shelf and am glancing
through it. I'd forgotten just how comprehensive the
content is! The discussion/explanation that could
soooo easily degenerate into Dan-style pedagogy is
strongly supported by a wealth of experimental data.
Anyone who has a copy might glance over it again, give
a page number, and suggest a topic... ;-)
His discussion of the altered states created by
foreign substances (see "The fleeting truths of
nitrous oxide", p.407 in the '98 MIT paper edition -
the first two sentences are the only reason I had my
wisdom teeth removed ;-)

Well, enough for now - I'm late - I think I'm becoming
dependent on transhumanist thought.


Dan Adams
Boston College

"I cannot articulate enough to express my dislike to people who think that understanding spoils your experience...How would they know?"
   - Marvin Minsky

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