The relevance of the buddhist theory of dependent co-origination to cognitive science

Brain and Mind 4 (3):341-351 (2003)
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Abstract
The canonical Buddhist account of the cognitive processes underlying our experience of the world prefigures recent developments in neuroscience. The developments in question are centered on two main trends in neuroscience research and thinking. The first of these involves the idea that our everyday experience of ourselves and of the world consists in a series of discrete microstates. The second closely related notion is that affective structures and systems play critical roles in governing the formation of such states. Both of these ideas are contained within the Buddhist theory of dependent co-origination. This paper explicates the theory of dependent co-origination in light of the aforementioned developments. It examines the role of the theory of dependent co-origination within Buddhism and it draws attention to critical differences with the neuroscientific account of the same process. Finally, it discusses specific ways in which these differences may be usefully applied to neuroscience research and thinking.
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