Caught behind but not out!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

On compassion

The Washington Post recently had an article on Dalai Lama's visit to Washington. In the write up Joel Achenbach makes a mention of the Dalai Lama's recent book.

His new book, The Universe in a Single Atom, states that the scientific method by itself has never truly explained certain features of human spirituality, such as compassion. He makes a distinction between the core values of a religion, which can't change, and the doctrines that are mutable, like the bit about the moon. But he clearly sees no problem being fully spiritual and fully scientific. He believes in freedom, which includes the freedom to use one's brain.

I must admit that I have not read the book and I doubt if I will create an opportunity to read it.

I found this note interesting because he days that science can never explain compassion and other features of human spirituality. To put it very naively, aren't qualities such as compassion emergent properties of an social system? The fact that the survival of a species is not dependent on the induvidual alone but on the entire set of induviduals the species interacts with. There was an article in 2000 on Edge.org by Dr. V.S. Ramachandran on the subject of Mirror Neurons. He proposes that these neurons might explain social interactions in humans, why we empathize with other people.

I have always maintained that science (or reasoning if you choose to call it) will find an explanation. The explanation not being around now does not imply it will never come by. The world is filled with a lot of smart people. Some one is bound to find an answer to the why's and the why not's!

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