Linda Heuman, Visiting Scholar, Dept. of Religion, Brown University.
In this talk, I reflect on the question of how to best communicate across difference in a way that fosters mutual respect. Exploring Buddhism’s dialogues with science and with modernity, I explore how claims to sameness and difference of Buddhism and science function in these conversations. I challenge the notion that Buddhism and science are compatible. My main intent isn’t to ague the contrary—though I do claim that Buddhism and science have important differences—but more importantly, to explore the conditions of possibility that have given rise to their compatibility seeming self-evident. The emphasis on common ground, I argue, is not a reflection of some objectively true state of affairs, as many who accept it assume; rather, it is a dialogue strategy, used to promote mutual respect toward the attainment of common goals. But this dialogue strategy, I argue, is wrongly employed in this context; it doesn’t attain the collaborators’ goal of non-hegemony. Further, it an implicit power imbalance between the collaborators by which Buddhist “belief” is treated as less credible than scientific “knowledge.” I then draw on French theorist Bruno Latour to investigate implicit assumptions that frame the modern notions of credible knowledge, and explore critiques of those assumptions from Latour and the field of science studies.
360 Video Login required