Buddhism and modern physics, Volume 1

Halifax, Canada: Self-published, Amazon.com (2016)
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Abstract

The book investigates distinctions between independent individuality and interactive relationality in physical phenomena. This is a common topic for investigation in modern physics and philosophy of science, and the topic is explored using contemporary research in those disciplines. Additionally, it is common for Buddhism to focus on relationships, and it proposes that independent individual things do not exist. In the context of physical reality, I take this Buddhist view as a hypothesis and examine it critically. We evaluate its arguments and find them generally to be problematic when evaluated against modern standards for logic and physics. However, its fundamental principle—emptiness, or shunyata—is still worthy of being tested. Contrary to many books on Buddhism and science, this one takes a very positive view of science. Yet, this depends on how we define ‘science’. Hence, the book begins with an examination of that topic, informed by philosophy of science and the author’s experience and training as physicist and philosopher. While we discuss, explain and justify many standard views of science, and present the standard elements of science, physics and physics theories, the book argues extensively for one perspective: pluralism in a synthesis of the author’s design. I will show shunyata to be quite consistent with the knowledge framework of Physics Pluralism. When we test Buddhist emptiness against the results of physics—interpreting both within that knowledge framework—we discover the relevance, importance, and some truth in the relationality ideas of shunyata. Robert Alan Paul has studied physics, had a career as a physicist, and both studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, and separate master’s degrees in philosophy; philosophy of science & mathematics; and physics (abd). He holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in four disciplines: philosophy of science, Western analytic metaphysics, Buddhist philosophy, and physics. His Ph.D. dissertation was the foundation of this book.

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