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Ultimate Concerns features interviews and discussions with religion experts about their research. Insights from these discussions are applied to contemporary cultural and political questions. Topics are related to many different religions (such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism) and methods of study (such as literary studies, history, theology, and philosophy). Ron Mourad, professor of religious studies at Albion College, hosts the show.

Sep 22, 2016

Is the brain a “computer made of meat”? This is a modern idea associated with artificial intelligence research, neuroscience, linguistics, and the philosophy of mind. But in some ways the idea isn't new at all. The seventh-century Buddhist philosopher Dharmakirti developed a very sophisticated model of the mind that explained how beliefs and concepts could be caused by more basic sensations - making them somewhat like the outputs of a computational process. 

The episode features Dan Arnold, Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. We discuss his book, Brains, Buddhas, and Believing: The Problem of Intentionality in Classical Buddhist and Cognitive-Scientific Philosophy of Mind.

We focus on Arnold's comparison of contemporary philosopher Jerry Fodor and Dharmakirti, some objections that apply to both of their positions, and the limits of evolutionary explanations of religious beliefs.