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...]

Introducing the Middle Way Society, an interview with Robert M. Ellis

middle way society webpage

Today we're interviewing Robert M. Ellis, a UK philosopher and formerly ordained Buddhist (in the FWBO, now TBC) about his new undertaking, the Middle Way Society. I have personally been in touch with Robert for a number of years now, having exchanged a few emails back when I began my PhD and moved to London in 2007. Since then we have mostly crossed paths of our blogs and those of fellow Buddhist-philosophy type people, and earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet Robert in person here … [Read more...]

Buddhism: religion or philosophy?

buddha with plato and aristotle at the academy

This is the question again, raised by the renowned philosopher Michael McGhee for the UK's Guardian newspaper. The short article is set to be the start of a series on the topic, so we can look forward to further installments in the days to come.Today's article rehearses some of the issues we've seen raised in the news and among bloggers lately, namely the decontextualization of Buddhist practices, rebranded as "mindfulness" and sold to people free of "religion." However, McGhee does want to … [Read more...]

Are Mormons Christians? Defining Religious Identity

dude-undude

“Violence is fomented by the imposition of singular and belligerent identities on gullible people, championed by proficient artisans of terror.” - Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence Chris Henderson over at Approaching Justice is hosting a round-table of sorts to discuss the question: Are Mormons Christians?It is an interesting question, even for those on the outside. As we saw last week, some people in prominent positions in Buddhism were quick to claim that Aaron Alexis couldn't really be … [Read more...]

Kenneth Folk vs the Speculative Non-Buddhists

Tutteji Dai Osho

As Western Buddhism has grown in the last 50 years, and especially with the proliferation of discussion on the internet in the last 5-10 years, there has been a growing niche of satire and criticism of its dominant modes of discourse.Today two prominent sources of criticism are Glenn Wallis's Speculative Non-Buddhism and Tutteji Wachtmeister's (aka Tutteji Dai Osho) Tutteji.org. The former focuses on serious, Western philosophical criticisms of major trends and individuals in Western … [Read more...]


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