The current study is a pilot trial to examine the effects of a nonelective, classroom-based, teacher-implemented, mindfulness meditation intervention on standard clinical measures of mental health and affect in middle school children. A total of 101 healthy sixth-grade students (55 boys, 46 girls) were randomized to either an Asian history course with daily mindfulness meditation practice (intervention group) or an African history course with a matched experiential activity (active control group). Self-reported measures included the Youth Self Report (YSR), a modified (...) Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Measure –Revised. Both groups decreased significantly on clinical syndrome subscales and affect but did not differ in the extent of their improvements. Meditators were significantly less likely to develop suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm than controls. These results suggest that mindfulness training may yield both unique and non-specific benefits that are shared by other novel activities. (shrink)
The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu is known for his critical contribution to Buddhist Abhidharma thought, his turn to the Mahayana tradition, and his concise, influential Yogacara-Vijñanavada texts. _Paving the Great Way_ reveals another dimension of his legacy: his integration of several seemingly incompatible intellectual and scriptural traditions, with far-ranging consequences for the development of Buddhist epistemology and the theorization of tantra. Most scholars read Vasubandhu's texts in isolation and separate his intellectual development into distinct phases. Featuring close studies of Vasubandhu's (...) _Abhidharmakosabhasya_, _Vyakhyayukti_, _Vimsatika_, and _Trisvabhavanirdesa_, among other works, this book identifies recurrent treatments of causality and scriptural interpretation that unify distinct strands of thought under a single, coherent Buddhist philosophy. In Vasubandhu's hands, the Buddha's rejection of the self as a false construction provides a framework through which to clarify problematic philosophical issues, such as the nature of moral agency and subjectivity under a broadly causal worldview. Recognizing this continuity of purpose across Vasubandhu's diverse corpus recasts the interests of the philosopher and his truly innovative vision, which influenced Buddhist thought for a millennium and continues to resonate with today's philosophical issues. An appendix includes extensive English-language translations of the major texts discussed. (shrink)
Some of the basic terminology of Yogācāra philosophy needs reevaluation. Whereas commentaries almost universally gloss the term dvaya ('duality') with some version of the phrase grāhya grāhaka ca (lit. 'grasped and grasper', but usually translated as 'subject and object'), in fact this gloss is absent from the earliest strata. The term and its gloss are derived from separate streams of Yogācāra reasoning - one from discussions of linguistic conceptualization and the other from discussions of perception. Once we see that these (...) two are distinct, it becomes clear that the commentarial literature asserts their identity in order to philosophically unify Yogācāra thought. One upshot of this is that even in this later assertion 'duality' refers not to the distinction between internal and external reality (as in 'textbook' Yogācāra), but to the falsely projected distinction between mental subjects and mental objects. (shrink)
In this essay, it is proposed that the dialogues of Plato be interpreted through the lens of Yoga philosophy. No historical claims are made alleging transmission of ideas from India to Greece. It is claimed, however, that seeing Plato's thought through the categories of Yoga is both a neglected approach and an illuminating one.
In Plato’s early dialogues, Socrates frequently asks questions of the form “What is X?” seeking definitions of the substitution instances of X (e.g., Justice, Piety, and Courage). In attempting to elucidate Socratic definition, a number of interpreters have invoked a distinction between real and nominal definition (the distinction between the definition of a thing and the definition of a word. In using that distinction, several interpreters have pointed out that, when Socrates asked his “What is X” question (e.g., “What is (...) Justice?”), he was not seeking a nominal definition (a definition of the word ‘διχαιοσύνή’), but rather a real definition (a definition of the thing, Justice). My purpose in this paper is to argue that the preceding interpretation of Socratic thought is mistaken, i.e., I shall argue that there is no real/nominal distinction to be found in the Socratic dialogues. (shrink)
We consider a situation in which individuals search for accurate decisions without direct feedback on their accuracy, but with information about the decisions made by peers in their group. The “wisdom of crowds” hypothesis states that the average judgment of many individuals can give a good estimate of, for example, the outcomes of sporting events and the answers to trivia questions. Two conditions for the application of wisdom of crowds are that estimates should be independent and unbiased. Here, we study (...) how individuals integrate social information when answering trivia questions with answers that range between 0% and 100%. We find that, consistent with the wisdom of crowds hypothesis, average performance improves with group size. However, individuals show a consistent bias to produce estimates that are insufficiently extreme. We find that social information provides significant, albeit small, improvement to group performance. Outliers with answers far from the correct answer move toward the position of the group mean. Given that these outliers also tend to be nearer to 50% than do the answers of other group members, this move creates group polarization away from 50%. By looking at individual performance over different questions we find that some people are more likely to be affected by social influence than others. There is also evidence that people differ in their competence in answering questions, but lack of competence is not significantly correlated with willingness to change guesses. We develop a mathematical model based on these results that postulates a cognitive process in which people first decide whether to take into account peer guesses, and if so, to move in the direction of these guesses. The size of the move is proportional to the distance between their own guess and the average guess of the group. This model closely approximates the distribution of guess movements and shows how outlying incorrect opinions can be systematically removed from a group resulting, in some situations, in improved group performance. However, improvement is only predicted for cases in which the initial guesses of individuals in the group are biased. (shrink)
Philosopher, rabbi, religious historian, Gnostic: who was Jacob Taubes and what is at stake in his works? To begin answering this question, it is useful to consider his writings in conjunction with those of Carl Schmitt, with whom he shared an interest in the theological background of modern politics. Although Taubes made the acquaintance of such thinkers as Gershom Scholem, T. W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jacques Derrida, this complex history with Schmitt has been the best known and most notorious (...) of his relationships. Though never blind to the legal theorist's political past, Taubes acknowledged his intellectual debt to Schmitt…. (shrink)
In the "cratylus", Plato presents two theories about the correctness of names, I.E., Names are correct by nature and names are correct by convention. In this paper, I argue that plato holds both views because he recognizes that the word 'name' is ambiguous as between type and token. Name tokens (individual strings of marks and noises) are conventional for plato. But name types (the role played by the tokens or the concept expressed by the tokens) are not conventional for plato.
In Plato’s early dialogues, Socrates frequently asks questions of the form “What is X?” seeking definitions of the substitution instances of X. In attempting to elucidate Socratic definition, a number of interpreters have invoked a distinction between real and nominal definition, he was not seeking a nominal definition, but rather a real definition. My purpose in this paper is to argue that the preceding interpretation of Socratic thought is mistaken, i.e., I shall argue that there is no real/nominal distinction to (...) be found in the Socratic dialogues. (shrink)
Concern over research integrity at the NIH led to the adoption of strict conflict of interest rules in 2005. An outcry from NIH scientists followed. This paper analyzes the legal and ethical issues raised by the new rules, and suggests potential areas for modification.