Twelve Examples of Illusion

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Oxford University Press, Sep 23, 2010 - Religion - 208 pages
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Tibetan Buddhist writings frequently state that many of the things we perceive in the world are in fact illusory, as illusory as echoes or mirages. In Twelve Examples of Illusion, Jan Westerhoff offers an engaging look at a dozen illusions--including magic tricks, dreams, rainbows, and reflections in a mirror--showing how these phenomena can give us insight into reality. For instance, he offers a fascinating discussion of optical illusions, such as the wheel of fire (the "wheel" seen when a torch is swung rapidly in a circle), discussing Tibetan explanations of this phenomenon as well as the findings of modern psychology, and significantly clarifying the idea that most phenomena--from chairs to trees--are similar illusions. The book uses a variety of crystal-clear examples drawn from a wide variety of fields, including contemporary philosophy and cognitive science, as well as the history of science, optics, artificial intelligence, geometry, economics, and literary theory. Throughout, Westerhoff makes both Buddhist philosophical ideas and the latest theories of mind and brain come alive for the general reader.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Magic
9
The Moon in the Water
23
A Visual Distortion
41
A Mirage
56
A Dream
69
An Echo
83
The City of Gandharvas
95
Rainbows
122
Lightning
135
Water Bubbles
150
A Reflection in a Mirror
161
References and Further Reading
175
Review of Twelve Examples of Illusion
189
Credits
193
Index
197

An Optical Illusion
110

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About the author (2010)

Jan Westerhoff is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Durham and Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of Ontological Categories, Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction and The Dispeller of Disputes: Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani.

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