I thought this was a great introduction to both modern Buddhist thought and evolutionary psychology. Professor Wright is an excellent lecturer, and his office hours are informative as well as amusing.
Engaging content and excellent pace. While the level is introductory (I'd have liked a bit more depth), I would expect this from a lower-division/breadth course—and even more so from a MOOC like this.
par K S C•
par Sanjay J•
par BRIGETTA C•
par Akshay R•
par Tomas B•
par timir b•
par Leonardo R C•
par Lilyana S•
par Ricardo V•
par Katy P•
par Prince A•
par DILEEP K B•
par Robert P•
par Atzin G•
par Irina R•
A complete novice in the topic, I really apreciated the course. It allowed me to emmerge into the subject of Buddhist philosophy; it also opened the door to the evolutionary psychology. I have an impression to get a lot out of the course. Especially in terms of "what to learn next". My curiosity is on its highest now ;) - I think it is the best a student can get.
A university lecturer myself, I appreciated the way Robert delivered his lectures. Very animated, well paced and supported by a good portion of "side discussions", interviews and references to the literature, the course was mostly seamless and easy to follow. The analytical approach that Robert practices in the course also speaks a lot to me: every concept is explained and put into the context, providing the logical links to the other concepts discussed.
The lecture on the week 6 was the hardest for me: it seems like my lack of background in the subject became critical by that time. Or, probably, following the course during a trail running is not the best approach :). Any way, compared to the previous lectures (for example, the modular mind concept was very well debated), the concepts of "Morality" and "Naturalistic Buddhism" seemed fuzzy to me.
For example, from the course, I cannot get clearly a definition of moral truth. What is "moral" according to the Buddhist teaching or according to the evolutionary theory any way? I seemed to miss the point on how the "ethics" comes to play. I also did not grasp: What are the characteristics of Naturalistic Buddhism? (any differences with secular Buddhism or other schools? Sure, one can learn it on wikipedia. But to ensure the seamless lecture flow, this could be a good introduciton). Bottom line: the topic requires probably more structured and profound analysis.
Besides all said, I tried to catch up with the support materials and was mostly interested by video interviews - the darwindharma web site is most helpful. Having not much time to sit in the forum, I appreciated a lot the Office hours as they provided a sort of digest of the students' feedback.
Now I have the "Moral Animal" sitting on my bedside table. Time to read :) If you read this review considering to take the course - DO IT!
------ Irina Rychkova,
Associate Professor in Information Science,
University Paris 1, Pantheon-Sorbonne, France.
par Andressa K M T•
it requires persistence because some lectures can be tiring, especially depending on how your day was, but as i find the subject very interesting for me was not hard to focus again on what professor wright was saying. but other lectures are very easy to follow and the same apply to the interviews: excepting one that i didn't even finished, the majority were sufficiently interesting to go through and a few really interesting, like the ones with goldstein, paul bloom and bhikkhu bodhi. all of the interviewees were people whose work were resource material. we can download all the video lectures and the interviews (these in mp3 format). i also liked a lot the suggested resources, like a link of bhikkhu bodhi lectures (which we can also download), the first two sermons Buddha gave after attaining nirvana and the main book to the course, the foundations of buddhism by rupert gethin (in the first week we had to read a few chapters and this can take up some time), it is introductory and it appies just to my level of knowledge of Buddhism. professor wright is not a specialist neither is Buddhism nor Psychology and doesn't pretend to be. nevertheless he takes up the work and really makes the effort to offer a good quality course. also, the course is not that serious, is just a way of getting to know a bit about a particular tradition of Buddhism which is thought to have similarities to modern psychology, particularly evolutionary psychology. there are forums of discussion, but i didn't participated in them and recorded office hours, of the early years of the course, as an additional resource.
par Hasan E•
Some reference to existentialism could be helpful, I believe, in relation to Buddhist idea of breaking the bondage of Samsara (existentialist ideas on creating meaning for life, assuming responsibility for it, and rebelling against the status quo, would perhaps go hand-in-hand with Buddhist doctrine of the cessation for suffering. Besides, dependent arising and karma could have been tackled a bit more - the flow of consciousness from one life to the other without the necessity for a 'self' to be. That line of reasoning as a third alternative to Deistic religions and materialism, perhaps, is the brightest allure of Buddhist, and not Hinduist, doctrine of rebirth.
I loved Prof. Wright's personal and fun way of engaging with students (specifically during office hour videos). However, presentation in videos could sometimes easily get distracting (30 minutes of directly facing you and listening to you, sir, is a bit hard to sustain attention - enrichment with video materials or short clips could further the active interest of students imho).
I am so happy to have been part of this journey with you.
par Daniel N•
This course makes a sincere effort to bring together Psychology and Buddhism. Although it can be very informative on Buddhist views and ideas, in particular kind of dissecting them individually, it also can be misleading when tries to interpret the Dharma without a deeper understanding of Non Duality. For example, based on the teachings of great Buddhist masters, I strongly disagree that Emptiness is a form of removing "essences" from phenomena rather than clearly "seeing" the lucidity of reality and the creative aspect of the mind that build and transforms that "essences" - and even get attached to its creations. There is so much more to explore, for example, the idea that real Emptiness experience cannot be explained by concepts and words, which are just pointers to a Deeper Truth. To be fair I think this may be beyond the field of Modern Psychology.
par Sky U•
It was a super-enjoyable course comparing two diverse topics and examining the evidence for Buddhist ideas. One aspect I particularly enjoyed was the constant references to accesstoinsight.org, which encouraged me to do my own research and read Buddhist scripture to learn more by myself. The interviews were also particularly interesting, and as a big fan of Paul Bloom, I was excited to watch Dr. Wright's interview with him. One critique I might add is that I felt like some of the lectures were long-winded, and I felt like too much time was spent on theories such as the modular theory of the mind. However, please take this with a grain of salt, since I have some prior knowledge of the basics of modern psychology, and as such did not require extensive explanation of these theories.
par Vivek B•
This is my first course on Buddhism. I just got curious what this course may have to offer on Buddhism and Modern Psychology, when both subjects are unfamiliar for me. But once I started I got thrilled from the core Buddhist ideas and its support from modern psychology. I am really intrigued by the concept of "non-self". I also understood how Buddhist teaching's defy the natural selection and helps us to grow beyond that. I thank Professor Robert Wright for such a wonderful course. The only downside of this course is Office Hours videos. Professor seems to have zero preparation of the questions being asked and impromptu answers creates more confusion. One can safely skip all Office Hours videos and enjoy the rest part of the course.
par Vladimir M•
I have enjoyed the topic, as well as the course. The point of improvement would be to make the material more engaging, rather than only watching videos of the professor explaining the theory.
In other words, and albeit this not being easy, the course comes off sometimes 'too dry' for my liking. It is essential to have more practice and more self-inquiry throughout the course. And yes, essays are helpful in reflecting about the materials and forming one's opinion, but even that feels to 'school-like' for me.
Since the topic itself is very interesting for me, I didn't mind it that much, but I did take much more time than the designed 6 weeks since, with work, I didn't find it too exciting to come back to it every week.
par María J L•
Choosing this course was a success. Not only have I learn about such an ancient Philosophy, but I´ve also began to understand the complexity of the human mind. This is a fair beginning for my future career in Anthropology and Philosophical Studies!
Three week points: 1) to introduce some evidences from neuro-biology that are not correctly explained (my husband heard them, he's a psychiatrist), 2) a too 'particular' version of Enlightenment from the instructor's point of view, and 3) there is not any certificate of completion. Anyway, I must thank Mr Wright for his enormous effort to bring us such an interesting comparative study about Buddhism and the modern concept of the human mind. Thank you sincerely!
par j. s•
I got the most from the beginning of this course. It seemed to develop a bias towards the modern science perspective in the middle weeks and I felt that it de-valued the Buddhist perspective near the end. I didn't get too much out of the office hours portion, but it was fun to see the instructor cite examples of course material and apply them to his dogs. It provided a less formal followup to the lectures. It would've been interesting to have the instructor have actual conversations with some of the students, rather than reply to their online questions and comments. That would have felt more interactive.
Overall, I really liked this course and would recommend it.
This course is a wonderful nexus between east and west, between science and religion, between intuition and reason and between all those dichotomies, the false ones and more! It is just a shame that discussion forum moderators have become petty tyrants given censorship powers. At least, that was how it was last time I was bothered enough to try to get this stuff. One star subtracted, but it should be more given discussion is the only way really to do philosophy. Only one will do though because I guess it is a systemic problem and that it probably doesn't affect those of you who aren't borderline trolls who imbeciles easily mistake for the bad kind.