Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week four – “What is the *you*, anyway?”

Buddhism and Modern Psychology - week 4

I have slipped a bit further behind this week, I'm afraid, and with some upcoming writing and travel commitments upon me the slide will likely continue. In week four Prof. Wright covered a fair amount of ground in psychology, discussing modular theories of the mind. The modular theory is based on questions about how we make decisions, how variations in our environment might change those decisions, and how we (in both 1st and 3rd person) understand that decision making process. He … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week three

Buddhism and Modern Psychology - week 3

I'm a bit later than usual posting on week 3 (week 4 lectures have just been posted). Such is life. Part of the reason is that the topic this week was "not-self"(anātman in Sanskrit, anattā in Pāli) in Buddhism and in Modern Psychology, which I am not terribly interested in writing more about at this time. I've written extensively about the topic here, here (on metaphysics),here (comparing with Sartre), and here; along with guest posts at Danny Fisher's blog and (around the topic of … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week two

Buddhism and Modern Psychology - week 2

It has been a busy week here, with a trip to Cheltenham to lead metta meditation for students in Dave Webster's course on Buddhism and a journey to London to see Professor Ian Harris talk on Buddhism and Politics at Kings College. So I haven't been able to write as detailed a post on week two of the Buddhism and Modern Psychology course as I wrote for week one. This week's lecture looked at "The Buddhist Prescription" - focusing on the 3rd and 4th Noble Truths and meditation in particular. As … [Read more...]

Stephen Batchelor and Ven Brahmali debate in Melbourne 2014 – Pick your winner

still image from the video above

You can now watch this debate between the famous "Secular Buddhist" Stephen Batchelor and Ajahn Brahmali, of the Thai Theravadin tradition from earlier this month. I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts (Jayarava, Mufi, Doug Smith, Ted Meissner - and the whole 'Secular Buddhist' crowd, US and UK - Nathan Thompson, and others who have discussed this intersection of 'the world' / seculum according to Batchelor and Buddhism). As debates go, it was highly collegial. They agree on far … [Read more...]

Mary Midgely, a Philosopher you should know

Moral philosopher Mary Midgley at home in Newcastle. Photographed for the Observer by Gary Calton

She studied philosophy at Oxford and rubbed shoulders with greats like Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and Mary Warnock, writes books on a wide variety of contemporary moral issues, has as good a wit and charm as any, a penchant for gratitude, and at least at one time, a Buddhist practice. But you probably have never heard of Mary Midgely. That should change. Thanks to the Guardian, you can learn a great deal from a recent interview covering her life and recent work, … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week one

Screenshot from a video at Coursera's Buddhism and Modern Psychology course (Mic Jagger and Prof. Robert Wright)

Buddhism and Modern Psychology, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), started yesterday. So far it is excellent, with Prof. Wright laying out some foundations of Buddhism, trying to narrow the scope of what is used with terms like supernatural (which is excluded) and secular (included) and science (the method of choosing which is which). He also gives overviews of a few psychology experiments that have proven relevant to Buddhist understandings of the first two noble truths. Questions of … [Read more...]

Buddhism without Superstition: with Owen Flanagan, Julian Baggini, and Tim Lott

Julian Baggini, Owen Flanagan and Tim Lott

"Is it possible to take an ancient comprehensive philosophy like Buddhism, subtract the hocus pocus, and have a worthwhile philosophy for twenty-first-century scientifically informed secular thinkers?" This was the quote, taken from Owen Flanagan's recent book (see below), which served to open a discussion last Wednesday at Bristol's "Festival of Ideas". The event re-raised the age old question, "Buddhism, is it a religion, philosophy, or way of life?" (I wrote a bit about this topic last … [Read more...]

R.I.P. David Kalupahana, a giant in the field of Buddhist Philosophy

250px-Prof_David_J_Kalupahana

The Colombo Page, a Sri Lankan online newspaper, has reported that the great writer and professor of Buddhist philosophy, David J. Kalupahana, passed away January 15 in Honolulu, Hawai'i.* Kalupahana retired in 2000 as professor of philosophy at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, a department internationally recognized for its East-West philosophical focus. He earlier served as the Chairman of the Department of Philosophy. His works on Buddhist Philosophy and Buddhist Ethics were … [Read more...]


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