Presented to the Christian Neuroscience Society, November 13, 2011.
Rigorous Indian thinkers have taken two opposite views of the self. The Hindus have taught that the human self is the ultimate reality – Brahma or God. Whereas, the Buddhist sages have assumed that there is no self – neither divine, nor human. Both views are based on reasoning but justified by mystical experience. Western philosophers have also moved in similar directions. Vishal Mangalwadi, an Indian author, philosopher and social reformer who was born and raised in India, will discuss the rationale behind these opposing views. Having studied philosophy in universities and Hindu ashrams, he will elucidate and contrast Eastern and Western ideas of the self and how they relate to a naturalistic view of neuroscience and the ideas of a philosopher, such as Teilhard de Chardin. He will argue that these are two self-defeating philosophical views and that mainstream western civilization was built on the biblical idea, taught by St. Augustine and others, that the finite human self is real, responsible, and immortal.