What is Real? A discussion with Barry Kerzin and Carlo Rovelli

Title: What is real? Nagarjuna’s Middle Way. A discussion with Barry Kerzin and Carlo Rovelli. 

Time and date: 29 of October 2021, 4pm CEST (10am EDT)

How to join: Please register for the zoom session using this link https://oeaw-ac-at.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_u6p9Fpi1SJ6A7z4aXRQs1Q . The registration confirmation email will contain the zoom link and password.

Abstract: Two interlocutors with a common fascination for Nagarjuna’s thought, a physician and Buddhist monk, and a theoretical physicist with a keen interest in the philosophy and history of science, discuss with the help of a moderator. The trilogue hopes to intrigue as to the pertinence of Nagarjuna’s philosophical stance on what and what not can consistently be said to exist, for deep seated conceptual issues in modern relativistic and quantum physics.

Speakers: Barry Kerzin is an American physician, academic in medicine and Buddhist monk. Dr. Kerzin has lived in Dharamshala since 1988, serving as personal physician to the 14th Dalai Lama, founded the Altruism in Medicine Institute, whose mission is to increase compassion and resilience among health care professionals and their patients, and authored `Nagarjuna’s Wisdom: A Practitioner’s Guide to the Middle Way’, that introduces the reader to the basics of Madhyamaka (middle way) thought. Dr. Kerzin is adjunct professor at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and formerly Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington. He is founder and president of the Altruism in Medicine Institute (AIMI) and founder and chairman of the Human Values Institute (HVI) in Japan.

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist, known for his work in quantum gravity and contributions to the history and philosophy of science. Rovelli is a prolific author of technical literature and has penned best sellers in science popularisation. In his latest book, Helgoland, Prof. Rovelli argues that Nagarjuna’s Middle Way, in particular his doctrine of sunyata, or emptiness, which says that nothing exists entirely unto itself but only in relation to other things,provides the right framework for understanding `a reality made up of relations rather than objects.’ Rovelli is Professor of physics at the Aix-Marseille University in France, Distinguished Visiting Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute, and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Philosophy, Western University, in Canada.

Hosted by: The online discussion is hosted by the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. This is an initiative in the context of the project the Quantum Information Structure of Spacetime supported by the John Templeton Foundation.