2011-2012 Faculty Research Seminar

Dimensions of Mind

Director: Roger R. Jackson, John W. Nason Professor of Asian Studies and Religion

“All things are preceded by mind; they are founded on mind, they are composed by mind.” (Dhammapada 1)

In disparate languages, scholars, creative artists, and sages in Asia, the West, and elsewhere, have acknowledged mind as both the most immediate and the most elusive aspect of our being. They have treated it as the mark of our humanity, the key to our own inner nature, the matrix of conceptions of the self, and the source of much that occurs in the body and the external world. They have sought to locate the mind, identify its true nature, understand its relation to the senses and the body, and map its various components, including conceptual thought, language-formation, memory, emotion, will, and imagination. They also have sought to explore its range of possible states—from waking to dream, normality to madness, distraction to deep concentration, anguish to ecstasy to equanimity.

In Asian thought, as in Western and other traditions, there is much debate about the breadth or narrowness of a definition of mind, and considerable discussion about the relation among various partly overlapping aspects of mind, such as consciousness, experience, awareness, cognition, subjectivity, perception, emotion, memory, learning, and rationality. Those issues cannot be easily resolved in any cultural setting, but there is no disputing that the mind, however construed, is among the most important of all objects of human inquiry—while it is, paradoxically, the subject that initiates that very inquiry.

The notion of mind to be used for the purposes of this seminar is a broad one: it includes the full range of conscious and unconscious mental states, along with their associated sensations and emotions—which cannot, of course, be separated from the physiological bases and various mediating factors in the physical and social worlds that affect (and in many cases effect) those states. We believe that many of us at Carleton are explicitly or implicitly concerned in our scholarship with mind thus broadly construed, and that a seminar expressly devoted to exploring the similarities, differences, and intersections in our approaches to mind will prove immensely stimulating and fruitful.

Faculty Fellows

Roger Jackson, Director, Religion, "Who's Minding the Mind? Ontology, Psychology, and Aesthetics in a 'Formless' Buddhist Meditation Practice"

Ken Abrams, Psychology,  Are Paraphilic Sex Offenders Less Responsible for Their Behavior than Non-Paraphilic Sex Offenders?

Kristen Bloomer, Religion , “Making Mary: Hinduism, Roman Catholicism and Marian Spirit Possession in Tamil Nadu, South India” 

Lauren Feiler, Economics, “Intentional Ignorance: A Study in Decision Making”                       

Trish Ferrett, Chemistry, “Expanding Human Learning Theories: Connecting Up Concepts of Complexity and Mind-Body Integration”           

Justin London, Music, “The Psychology and Neuroscience of Musical Virtuosity”           

Tun Myint, Political Science, “Ecologicalization: Consequences of Greening Conglomerate Capitalism and Leviathan States”