It is commonly claimed that mind-body dualism is entirely foreign to China—or “the East” more generally. This talk will explore how engaging with the cognitive sciences and digital humanities undermines claims such as this, and more broadly can help us to do our work as scholars of comparative philosophy. Embracing an embodied view of human cognition gets us beyond strong social constructivism and its accompanying cultural essentialism. In addition, new tools from the science and digital humanities can, in combination with traditional archaeological and textual evidence, allow us to more accurately and rigorously assess claims about the philosophical and religious historical record. Specifically, I will focus on novel large-scale textual analysis techniques, online databases for sharing scholarly knowledge, and work in contemporary evolutionary anthropology and cognitive science relevant to the mind-body issue. I will conclude by considering how early Chinese views of mind-body relations do, in fact, differ from some modern Western conceptions, and how taking a more reasonable view of cultural differences can allow us to genuinely learn from other cultures.
With a response from:
Paul Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)