Austin, James H. 1925–

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Austin, James H. 1925–

(James Henry Austin)


Born January 4, 1925, in Cleveland, OH; son of Paul Weber (an advertising artist) and Bertha Emily Austin; married Judith St. Clair, February 7, 1948; children: Scott W., Lynn St. Clair, Austin Manning, James W. Ethnicity: "German/English/Swiss." Education: Brown University, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1944; Harvard University, M.D. (cum laude), 1948. Politics: "Liberal Republican—Independent." Religion: "Unitarian/Zen Buddhist." Hobbies and other interests: The outdoors, fishing, gardening, pottery, calligraphy.


Home and office—Columbia, MO.


Boston City Hospital, Boston, MA, medical intern, 1948-49, assistant resident in neurology, 1949-50; Columbia University, New York, NY, fellow in neuropathology, 1953-55; University of Oregon, Health Sciences Center (now Oregon Health Sciences University) Portland, began as associate, became professor of health sciences, 1955-67; University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, professor of neurology, 1967-92, professor emeritus, 1992—, department chair, 1967-83; University of Idaho, Moscow, affiliate professor of philosophy, 1998; University of Missouri, Columbia, clinical professor of neurology, 2005—. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, Medical Corps, active duty, 1943-45, 1950-52.


American Neurological Association (member of council, 1979-82), American Academy of Neurology, Scientific and Medical Network, Sigma Xi.


American Neuropathology Prize, 1959; book prize, Scientific and Medical Network, 1998, for Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness; lifetime achievement award, United Leukodystrophy Foundation, 2004.


Chase, Chance, and Creativity, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

Zen-Brain Reflections: Reviewing Recent Developments in Meditation and States of Consciousness, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.

Work represented in anthologies, including America at the Millennium, International Library of Poetry, 2000. Contributor of more than 100 articles to scientific journals.

Some of Austin's writings have been translated into Japanese and Chinese.


James H. Austin once told CA: "I've been mostly inspired by my ignorance—about creativity and about Zen. This motivated me to learn more about each topic, both through observing my inner psychophysiological processes and through library research, using journal articles and books. I enjoy making the path clearer for the next generation of seekers.

"My writing goes through a series of drafts. Only in the course of these does literary clarity emerge. At the same time, I repair my ignorance, discovering new connections.

"One pleasant surprise has been the continuing response shown to my literary construct of a person's luck coming in four different forms: ‘The Varieties of Chance.’ The 1974 Saturday Review article and the chapter on the psychology of luck in my first book continue to find their way into textbooks of college English, [such as] Contemporary College Reader, 1981; Strategies—A Rhetoric and Reader, 1988; [and] The Sundance Writer, 2000."



Best Sellers, May, 1978, review of Chase, Chance, and Creativity.

Boston Book Review, October, 1999, review of Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness, p. 14.

Choice, July-August, 1978, review of Chase, Chance, and Creativity.

Library Journal, May 15, 1978, review of Chase, Chance, and Creativity.

Washington Post, April 9, 1978, Anthony Starr, review of Chase, Chance, and Creativity.

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Austin, James H. 1925–

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