polylog
literature · synopses
themes literature agenda archive anthology calendar links profile

James H. Austin

Zen and the Brain

Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
872 pages
ISBN 0-262-51109-6

MIT Press:
external linkWebsite

A sentence on Buddha characterizes Austin's perspective: »… long ago, in a distant land, a man's brain abruptly changed.« Seen from neuro-philosophy, the »awakened« is someone whose brain has fundamentally restructured itself. In this book, James H. Austin – neurologist, emeritus professor of the Health Science Center at the University of Colorado, and Zen practitioner – picks up from this in detail. According to him, Zen meditation has an effect on those structures of the human brain which are determined by learning processes and experience. As starting points, he uses phenomena such as memory, time consciousness, and attention to relate the latest insights of neurology to the most important technical and psychological notions of Japanese Zen. This book is the most thorough attempt so far to confirm Buddhist theories of knowledge and self-consciousness through approaches of Western neuro-philosophy.

Wolfgang Tomaschitz

Translation from the German by Dominic Sargent.

polylog: Forum for Intercultural Philosophy 4 (2003).
Online: http://lit.polylog.org/4/sajtw-en.htm
ISSN 1616-2943
Author: Wolfgang Tomaschitz, Vienna (Austria)
© 2003 Author & polylog e.V.
themes literature agenda archive anthology calendar links profile