Buddhism and Technology: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges

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St. John's College

2111 Lower Mall

Vancouver, BC V6T

Canada

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Sales Have Ended

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Thank you very much for registering. We look forward to seeing you at the conference.
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International Conference on “Buddhism and Technology: Historical Background and Contemporary Challenges”

About this Event

Science and religion are, by and large, presented to have different missions, and different paths to fulfill them: Science emphasizes rationality and empiricism, whereas religion values emotion and faith. Science is said to be unconcerned about taboos and the sacred, while religion exalts in mystery. The Enlightenment movement in the early modern period is often understood in opposition to the “darkness” of the middle ages when religion was the hegemonial discourse in Europe. In East Asia, a similar view has at times been adopted towards Buddhism: it has been considered as an inhibiting force that forestalled the progress of science. Recent research, however, has highlighted cases where Buddhists played an instrumental role in the evolution of science. It is time to re-evaluate Buddhism’s impact during the pre-modern period. Was Buddhism really the nemesis of science and technology, or did Buddhism and science co-exist in a symbiotic and complementary relationship?

What kind of resources could be found in the Buddhist tradition to counter these threats? In Buddhism, Buddhahood was at times conceived of as a state which one can infinitely approach, but not trespass into. Both Arhats and Bodhisattvas remain in a sense outside of Buddhahood in that they exist perfectly within an imperfect world. Their ascetic denial of convenience can be seen as analogous to someone who understands the convenience that technology promises, but is capable of resisting them. Therefore, it is a matter of social importance to recover the Buddhist attitude of wise restraint vis-à-vis science and technology, an attitude that is tolerant and embraces change, but is also firmly rooted in humane values that can guide and direct technological progress. Scholars of Buddhism can contribute to this debate by studying how Buddhism grappled with similar challenges in history, so as to shed light on contemporary reality. However, this conference will not only be concerned with the historical relationship between Buddhism and technology, but will also contemplate a present and future, in which technology endangers our existence.

The conference proposes the following (but not exclusive) topics:

  • Buddhism and technology: Distinctions, commonalities and interactions, in the past, present and future;
  • Synchronization or desynchronization: The diffusion of science and Buddhism in Asia;
  • Change in the medium and religious change, with a focus on the evolution of Buddhism in Asia;
  • Buddhism and Technological Innovation: Historical Case Studies;
  • Between Faith and Rationality: Monk Scientists;
  • Buddhism and Technological Innovation: Ideas and Philosophy;
  • Opportunities and Threats of Artificial Intelligence, from the Perspective of Buddhist Thought.
  • Uses of Computational Methods for the Study of East Asian Buddhism.

For more information about this conference, please visit Tianzhu Global Network or FROGBEAR. The schedule for this three-day conference can be viewed here. Please note that the first day of the conference is located at Tzu Chi Foundation Canada (8850 Osler). Conference attendees (non-presenters) are responsible for their own transportation. Dinner will be served to all at the Tzu Chi Foundation Canada on the first day of the conference. Conference attendees (non-presenters) are responsible for their own meals for the remainder of the conference. Register today as there is limited event capacity.

This conference is sponsored by the Tianzhu Global Network for Buddhism and East Asian Culture, with additional funding from Tzu Chi Foundation Canada, and organized by the project From the Ground Up based at the University of British Columbia.

Date and Time

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St. John's College

2111 Lower Mall

Vancouver, BC V6T

Canada

View Map

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