What Do Nanquan and Schrödinger Have Against Cats?

“It is with a certain trepidation that I broach the topic of Buddhism and quantum physics,” writes Buddhist scholar Robert H. Sharf in the “Field Notes” section of our new issue.

He goes on:

There is, of course, already a large literature on the subject, propelled in part by two popular books that appeared in the 1970s: Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism and Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. But there were many more in the decades that followed, including Amit Goswami’s The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World, Evan Harris Walker’s The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life, as well as new offerings by Capra and Zukav. Despite, or perhaps owing to, the appeal and commercial success of these books (The Tao of Physics has appeared in forty-three editions and twenty-three languages), this area of scholarship has acquired a rather tawdry reputation among scholars. The critical concern with these books is not, however, what one might suspect. It is not that the authors lack an adequate understanding of quantum physics. Rather, the problem is their naïve and facile grasp of Asian philosophy. Continue reading …

ROBERT H. SHARF is D. H. Chen Distinguished Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, as well as Chair of the Center for Buddhist Studies, at the University of California, Berkeley. He works primarily in the area of medieval Chinese Buddhism (especially Chan), but he also dabbles in Japanese Buddhism, Buddhist art, Buddhist philosophy, ritual studies, and methodological issues in the study of religion. His essay was originally prepared for the conference “Buddhist Beasts: Reflections on Animals in Asian Religions and Culture,” held at the University of British Columbia, April 20–22, 2018.

Philosopher Catherine Malabou at Berkeley

Una’s Lecture
Photo of Catherine Malabou.

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 6:00 pm
Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

French Philosopher Catherine Malabou teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University in London. She is the author of The Future of Hegel (2005), What Should We Do with Our Brain? (2008), Plasticity at the Eve of Writing (2009) and Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Neuroscience (2013)Her work has created the foundation for a wide range of current research focusing on the intersections between neuro- and biological science and the humanities. Her Una’s lecture, “Odysseus’ Changed Soul,” will offer a contemporary reading of Plato’s myth of Er (Republic, Book 10).

Professor Malabou’s short essay “The King’s Two (Biopolitical) Bodies” will appear in Representations 127, available in July 2014. In residence at Berkeley through the month of April, she will be a featured speaker in the interdisciplinary conference  “Animation/Reanimation” April 18, 2014 and participate (along with Representations editorial board member David Bates) in a two-day workshop April 11-12, entitled “Plasticity and Pathology: The History and Theory of Neural Subjects.”

Infinite Mischief

Must historical novels … be held to a higher truth standard because they are dealing, overtly, with history rather than story, even if that history is as horrific as that of the Holocaust?

Taking off from Thomas Hardy’s pronouncement that the “mixing of fact and fiction in unknown proportions” amounts to “infinite mischief,” Carol Gluck considers the tension between fact and fiction in her lively opinion piece for Representations 124, “Infinite Mischief? History and Literature Once Again.”

CAROL GLUCK is the George Sansom Professor of History at Columbia University, specializing in the history of modern Japan. She is co-editor with Anna Tsing of Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon (Duke, 2009) and author of Thinking with the Past: Japan and Modern History (University of California, forthcoming).