This week we’re excited to have Robert Wright on The Psychology Podcast. Robert is the New York Times best-selling author of Nonzero, The Moral Animal, The Evolution of God, and most recently Why Buddhism is True. He has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Time, Slate, and The New Republic, and has taught at The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, where he also created the online course Buddhism and Modern Psychology. Robert draws on his wide-ranging knowledge of science, religion, psychology, history and politics to figure out what makes humanity tick.
In this episode we cover:
- How “taking the red pill” from The Matrix can be likened to the practice of mediation,
- How and why “our brains evolved to delude us”,
- If and how Buddhism gets you more in touch with “reality”, including the bottom-up processes of cognition,
- Whether or not one can take parts of the practice too far,
- How Buddhism can be beneficial for seeing beauty where you didn’t before,
- Why our default state of consciousness isn’t necessarily good,
- How this book might infer that evolutionary psychology is not a complete explanation for many human tendencies,
- Why many feelings are illusions and how we know when they are,
- Why it’s true that “the more we engage a ‘module’ the more power it has”,
- Robert’s interpretation of what the Buddha really meant by the “non-self”, and how this does or does not conflict with one’s sense of identity.
In our conversation, Robert offers Buddhism as a solution for finding and sustaining happiness, exploring the interplay between Buddhist practices and evolutionary psychology in an unprecedented way. You may also find this episode interesting if you’re curious about whether it’s possible to see the world “accurately” or whether that’s even best for one’s well being. Enjoy!
Note to Psychology Podcast listeners: This happens to be the 100th episode of The Psychology Podcast. Thank you for your support! It’s been a fun journey so far, and we’re looking forward to the next 100 episodes!