(Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Chandigarh, India)


Pseudoscience and Resemblance Thinking in the Construction of Modern Yoga 

Notable cognitive scientists including the Noble Prize winner psychologist Daniel Kahneman, and computational scientist Paul Thagard, along with Religious Studies scholar Brian K. Smith, have highlighted the role of analogical thinking in fostering cognitive illusions and pseudo-scientific thinking. This paper will examine the role of analogical thinking in the popular Indian tendency to claim the authority of modern science for the spiritual wisdom of yoga. Special attention will be paid to the works of Swami Vivekananda, who started the tradition of interpreting Patañjali’s Yogasūtras through analogies with theories of biological evolution and thermodynamics. The contemporary uses of resemblance or analogical thinking in the modernization of yoga will be the focus of this paper.