A Cognitive Scientist interprets the Four Noble Truths + Noble Eightfold Path

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In this 50-minute lecture, Professor John Vervaeke (University of Toronto) interprets the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The lecture manages to stand on its own, but includes many ideas and some jargon (from cognitive science, philosophy, and psychology) that are explained in the previous lectures in the series.

Rather than try to introduce topics here for discussion, I’ll leave it for those who spend the 50 minutes to absorb the talk (which can be fairly called a Dhamma talk!)


Thanks for the share! That was a very interesting lecture.

Does he ever (in the later lectures) come back to this point on faith and truth? In my experience, faith is a powerful bit of “psychotechnology” as he called it (or indriya / bala as the Buddha called it). It would be a shame if he, in his final analysis, surrendered that vital spiritual tool to post-modernism.


The lecture posted is the current one (12 April 2019) in an ongoing series. Earlier lectures in the series cover pursuit of truth significantly, including belief formation. Vervaeke is careful to emphasize (and repeat) that belief formation is more than an intellectual exercise—it also involves a different type and class of reason altogether, different mental processes, and is typically practically indescribable. Of course, the Buddha provided the best tools to cultivate Right Understanding, a super-catagory that includes ‘right belief’ and the tools to help cultivate ‘right belief’.