Buddhism, Science and Technology: Challenges to Religions from a Digitalized World

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 June 2024 | Viewed by 368

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Interests: East Asian Buddhism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Buddhism and science represent two drastically different spheres that differ in their goals, the approaches to achieving their respective goals, and their impacts on the world. In its early form, Buddhism sought, above all, liberation from the cycle of existences and the attainment of the ultimate truth. Later in Mahāyāna Buddhism, the goals extended to cultivating compassion and benefiting all sentient beings. In contrast, science develops by inquiring objectively about the world based on empirical evidence, and by advancing technologies. Its central tenets are empiricism and a kind of epistemology firmly rooted in logic. Its goal is to explain the unknown world and to bring material advancement to human societies. It is marked by its “verifiability” and it evolves by constantly verifying hypotheses through trial and error.

In history, however, the relationship between science, technology, and Buddhism has in fact been a symbiotic one. For instance, in Indian Buddhism, Buddhist monastics played not only the role of the “healer” of the mind, but also that of the body. Likewise, in medieval Chinese Buddhism, Buddhist medicine contributed to the treatment of various conditions. Moreover, as Buddhism spread to China, it carried with it the knowledge of Indian mathematics, astrology, calendrical calculation, surgery, and chemistry, all of which expanded the horizon of Chinese science.

Buddhism and science both emphasize observation and empirical verification as the way to derive knowledge. Science achieves this through experimentation, while Buddhists seek truths through meditation and mindfulness. Despite their different approaches, both Buddhism and science aim to solve questions of existential import, with some scientific research even affirming, to a certain extent, Buddhist answers to these questions.

Separation between Buddhism and science is a late modern invention. It came about after the Industrial Revolution, which saw a finer splitting of disciplines and social labors. Science and Buddhism are thereby relegated to two distinct spheres and are sometimes even portrayed as being in opposition. In reality, Buddhism and science have been complementary throughout history in Asia. Even now, Buddhism could still inform science on ethical matters where the latter falls short, especially with regard to the challenges that accompany the trends of globalization and the rapid development of technology. These include the challenges posed by AI for the fate of the humanity, population explosion, and environmental pollution. We propose the following non-exhaustive list of topics for this Special Issue:

  • Buddhism and medicine;
  • Buddhism and mathematics;
  • Buddhism and astronomy;
  • Buddhism and calendrical calculation;
  • Buddhism and printing;
  • Buddhism and scientific and technological revolutions;
  • Buddhism and the cross-cultural transmission of science;
  • Buddhism and Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Jeffrey Theodore Kotyk
Prof. Dr. Ru Zhan
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Buddhism and science
  • artificial intelligence
  • Buddhism and medicine
  • Buddhism and printing
  • Buddhism and mathematics
  • Buddhism and astronomy

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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