What Contains What? The Relationship Between Mind and World, in Science and in Contemplation – Piet Hut (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)

September 14, 2018 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Faculty House, Garden rm 1
116th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

There is a clear need for a worldview that includes science and contemplation, arguably the two greatest achievements of humanity in studying the nature of reality. In my talk I will focus on the possibilities for future integration of aspects of science and contemplation, and perhaps even some far-future form of unification.

For these developments to proceed, two things must happen. From the science side, the role of the subject needs to be analyzed in qualitatively more detail, as different from a complex object that performs complex cognitive tasks. From the contemplation side, experts from different traditions with deep contemplative experience need to get together to establish a common language in which to talk across the cultural and dogmatic barriers, in order to find a more universal appreciation of the core of contemplation, akin to what science accomplished in the last few centuries.

In order to even start talking about a new worldview, the foundation for any conversation should be respect. Those scientists who view contemplation as at best a form of therapy, and at worst a form of superstition, will not be able to constructively engage in a dialogue. Neither will those contemplatives who view the scientific enterprise as necessarily reductionist and incapable of leaving any room for contemplation.

Note: here I use the word ‘contemplative’ to indicate those who actively engage in a form or spiritual practice, through meditation or prayer or a mixture of both. I prefer the word ‘contemplative’ or ‘mystic’ rather than ‘spiritual’ since the word ‘spirit’ can easily lead to inappropriate connotations.  Unfortunately, mysticism got a bad rap with current connotations like mystification as intentionally obscuring things.


Faculty House, Garden Room 1


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