The Rubin is transforming. Read important updates from our Executive Director.

What Makes the Mindset of a Radical?

Stephen Batchelor + Owen Flanagan

Sunday, March 7, 2010
2:00 PM–3:30 PM

Writer Stephen Batchelor + neurophilosopher Owen Flanagan
The author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist argues that the Buddha was a radical innovator. What is it in our brains that makes some of us upend tradition and most of us follow the herd? A distinguished professor in the department of philosophy at Duke University, as well as professor of psychology and neurobiology, Flanagan illuminates the black box of consciousness using philosophical and scientific approaches. In 2001, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study Buddhist and Hindu conceptions of the self.
Stephen Batchelor grew up outside London and came of age in the 1960s. Like other seekers of his time, instead of going to college he set off to explore the world. Settling in India, he eventually became a Buddhist monk in Dharamsala, the Tibetan capital-in-exile, and entered the inner circle of monks around the Dalai Lama. He later moved to a monastery in South Korea to pursue intensive training in Zen Buddhism. Yet the more Batchelor read about the Buddha, the more he came to believe that the way Buddhism was being taught and practiced was at odds with the actual teachings of the Buddha himself. Charting his journey from hippie to monk to lay practitioner, teacher, and interpreter of Buddhist thought, Batchelor reconstructs the historical Buddha’s life, locating him within the social and political context of his world.
Owen Flanagan Jr. is the James B Duke Professor and Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University. In 1999, he was invited by the Mind and Life Institute to attend a small conference in Dharamsala, India with the Dalai Lama on the topic of “Destructive Emotions.” A book on the meetings, Beyond Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Collaboration with the Dalai Lama narrated by Daniel Goleman, appeared in 2003. Besides writing many articles, reviews, and contributions to colloquia, Flanagan has written or edited many books, the most recent of which is The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World (MIT Press 2007). His first appearance at RMA was in conversation with photographer Kenro Izu in 2007.