12th Nalanda dialogue on Perception

The dates of the next Nalanda dialogue are: February the 22nd ton 24th.

I recently received the following announcement about it (unedited):

We are happy to announce that the 12th Dialog on Perception is going to be held from 22nd to 24th of February’ 2018 in Navanalanda Mahavihara ‘ Nalanda . As we had been trying during the past Dialogs ( please visit the Past Dialog section of www.nalandadialogmission.wordpress.com), this meeting is also intended to open Dialog between Science and Philosophy. This time we will concentrate on different aspects of perception – about different epistemological and logical issues involved in the passage from perception to knowledge formation. Particular interest will be paid on the way theoretical concepts are formed within the framework of mathematical language on the basis of observed/ perceived data.
However, one of the most pressing impressions left during the past Dialogs is about an acute difficulty – we often fail to address point blank the question that what precisely constitute the problem area which really calls for multiple inputs from different disciplines! In fact scientific disciplines, though presuppose a philosophy, in one way or another, are internally autonomous to a great extent. Practical bread and butter problems in science are strongly believed to be taken adequate care from within the framework of their own technical Languages so far developed, or which is possible to be developed , in principle , on the basis of the existing language itself – modifying or extending accordingly.
What then is exactly the reference area in the existing body of scientific knowledge to seek help from domains outside, which belong technically and pedagogically to other disciplines ! What specifically are the epistemological difficulties involved in the process of scientific knowledge formation which can be made more sense by ‘philosophical’ solicitation?
As we know that there are a stable body of Answers (though differs over a wide spectrum of opinions!) to this question in context of Western knowledge dynamics.
But this question is far more difficult to answer if asked in context of Indian knowledge dynamics for obvious reasons internal to the different cultural dynamics. We have hardly any good reason to single out any given slot of period out of the huge time span through which Indian knowledge dynamics developed which can be of better help to answer this question compared to others. Apart from pointing out some surface analogies, we are hardly better yet in assessing this question even from rigorous historical point of view of knowledge dynamics in Indian context.
In fact this is the question we are trying to make sense during the last few Dialogs. However, one of the significant lessons of History of Ideas in general and science in particular is that , a large portion of philosopher’s typical concerns , which has been usually debated so far inconclusively can be formulated further to figure out Answers .
Of course Humanity is faced with a vast number of problems which can’t be solved quickly enough in terms of definite Answers to guide our actions and decisions. But still an impressive variety of problem areas of traditional philosophical concerns are there which can be further translated in modern terms to expect Answers ( at least better empirical justification )of large varieties instead of inconclusive debate .
During the past 2/3 years we have been able to figure out areas of mutual concerns which really offers further formulation which are even at the disposal of experimental verification . Many problems of traditional philosophical concerns are now at the disposal of empirical verification leading to a subject area described sometimes as experimental metaphysics .
However, experimental metaphysics is still an aim which is largely envisaged in context of the Realism issue pertaining to quantum mechanics.
Nalanda mission in its present stage hopes to extend the scope of the experimental metaphysics to include traditional Indian philosophical concerns.
An impressive variety if of issues had already been singled out which can be further translated tro look for better interdisciplinary norms of comparison within empirical framework . Some of the issues are –
1. Identity and Individuation 2. Free Will 3. Metaphysics of Relation ..
12th Nalanda Dialog hopes to add more to this list or at least to add variation to the existing list.

For any further querry , please write to buddhadevrf@gmail.com or humanphysics2014@gmail.com

The program is as follows:

12th Nalanda Dialogue (on Perception)
First day:
Inaugural Functions: 9.30 – 10.30
Tea Break: 10.30 – 11.00
Invited Lectures: Perception and Reality
(1) Nyaya Perspective: 11.00- 11.45
(2) Buddhist Perspective: 11.45 -12.30
(3) Neuroscience Perspective : 12.30-13.15
Lunch Break: 13.15- 14.30
Afternoon: 4) Physicist’s perspective (14.30-15.00)
Panel Discussions ( 5 persons): The Epistemological issues about perception (From Indian Philosophy and Physics and neuroscience}: 15.00 – 16.00
Interactions with the Audience: 16.00-16.30

2nd Day:
Invited Lectures: On Reality of the theoretical concepts
Matter and Atom from Nyaya-Vaisesika an Buddhist perspective : 10.00- 10.45
Matter and Atom in Modern Science: ( how the reality issue had been configured right from Kinetic Theory to high energy physics )10.45- 11.30
Tea Break: 11.30- 12.15
Panel Discussions ( 5 persons) : 12.15 – 13.00 ( Discussions should be centered on methodology used by Indian Philosophers and scientists )
Lunch Break: 13.00- 14.00
Invited Lectures: What constitutes causal explanation?
Principle of Causality and Modern Science : 14.00-14.45
Buddhist Perspective : 14.45- 15.30
Tea Break: 15.30 -15.45
Panel Discussions (5 persons): 15.45- 16.45: What a Natural Law is about – an expression of description of relation between sense data (normal perception or experimentally extended) or explanation?
Interactions with the audience: 16.45- 17.30

3rd Day:
Morning Lectures: Development of concept of an objective out-there Reality referring to the Century old debate between the Realists and Phenomenalists…
Space-time Ontology in Modern Science ( from Newton’s Theory of Gravitation to Einstein’s one and Quantum Field Theory) : 10.00-10.45
Concept of Akasha and Kala in Ancient Indian Wisdom: 10.45-11.30
Tea Break: 11.30-11.45
Panel Discussions ( 5 persons) 11.45- 13.00
Afternoon session:
Panel Discussions (5 persons): The notion of objectivity in modern science and Ancient Indian wisdom: 14.00 – 15.30
High Tea : 15.30-16.00
Valedictory Session: 16.00 – 16.30

About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog: elisafreschi.com, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

3 Replies to “12th Nalanda dialogue on Perception”

  1. Thanks Elisa! We are thankful to you and your team to make Nalanda Dialog mission reach a broader international community. As mentioned in the announcement note, Nalanda Dialog is intended not only to understand traditional understandings in modern terms. We are hopeful to make sense of something more from the perspective of growth of knowledge. Personally I would like to address questions like – Is perception a reliable guide to final ontology?
    Definitely not, as we know today both from the traditional debates of different philosophical schools as well as modern scientific understandings. But what is more interesting today is to compare the process (in different stages of history) of formation of this doubt mechanism in different cultures.
    Moreover, being human, we are always constrained by our typical knowledge acquisition tools irrespective of our different cultural origins. All of us are intrinsically spatio-temporal being with our cognitive tools developed in a moderately hot and slowly varying environment! Our thinking process consequently depends on the observable concepts of spatio-temporally located individuals in this environment. These constraints, needless to say, are universally applicable to all. No special preference is allotted whether someone is Plato, Aristotle, Gautam , Kanad , Einstein or a man in the street !
    But ironically we have been granted (through evolutionary history) direct empirical access to a very small portion of conceivable totality. Consequently what constitutes a perennial concern is about a fundamental dualism, which is a question of understanding unobservable (may even be non-spatial …) in terms of language of observable spatio-temporal in human scale.
    Surely this constitutes the common thread of concern among the Philosophers and scientists for centuries. But the treatments about this dualism are known to have differed widely in different cultures. And these treatments are outcome of indiscriminate mixture of what we benchmark as science and philosophy. Significant turning point in these treatments can surely be located after gradually realizing the role of mathematics as the language of Nature to talk about Her secret. But alas! Our most sophisticated mathematics is also a mathematics created by spatio-temporal beings which primarily entails a human-centric set theory as a background theory /semantics (Can’t get into more details here).
    So to cut a long story short, if it is about capturing linguistically the passage from sensory experience to knowledge formation ( within our skin boundary), this is intrinsically misleading and illusive. Traditional philosophy warned a lot about this illusive gap between appearance and reality. Signature of this intrinsic Gap is instantiated also in different recent developments of logic, mathematics and Physics. I think these signatures can be made better epistemic sense if read together with the philosophers warning notes .
    So today , for a better comparative assessment , we can ask the philosophers (referring to their warning!) –
    Do you find the modern recipes of knowledge formation doubtful from your traditionally discussed points of view?
    Do you find the modern knowledge recipes better at least in some epistemic respects compared to inconclusive ‘philosophical’ debates for centuries…!

  2. Scientific study of philosophy is of high need in the current socio-political context. Though there are debates on what is scientific or what are the scientific studies but rigidity from both the desicipline can actually interfere with the growth of the knowledge. Let us assume our philosophy and science are full of false claim and let us start to disect both to differentiate reality and wild fantasy.
    We can not progress by claiming superiorty of one discipline but unfortunate that happens during the dialoge. Let us concretize on the specific area on Perception for this dialogue with serious note. After we hear from all the experts let us have a task force that can work together on Perception to decide what is fact and what is beyond fact

  3. “But still an impressive variety of problem areas of traditional philosophical concerns are there which can be further translated in modern terms to expect Answers ( at least better empirical justification )of large varieties instead of inconclusive debate .”

    What are the inconclusive debates of philosophy which have been answered by science or for which ways to get answers have been devised?

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