Zen Buddhist teacher Dogen: “The Greatest Philosopher You’ve Never Heard Of”

Writing for NPR today, Adam Frank introduces us to Eihei Dōgen. Dōgen was a thirteenth century Japanese Buddhist thinker and founder of Sōtō Zen. And Frank is an astrophysicist teaching at the University of Rochester. Why would a 21st century astrophysicist be praising a long-dead Japanese guy as a "philosopher"?As Frank writes, "it doesn't do much good imagining that Europe cornered the market on creative thinking about being human." He, like me, my friend Amod Lele, and a lot of other fol … [Read more...]

Getting Buddhist Philosophy (and other non-Western thought) into the academy

Last Wednesday, Jay Garfield (who I wrote about in 2013) and Bryan Van Norden published an op-ed in the NYTimes calling for the renaming of university "Philosophy" departments to something like "Western or Anglo-American philosophy departments" so long as they refuse or fail to incorporate philosophy from outside of the Western world (or even a particularly circumscribed section of the Western world). They write: Given the importance of non-European traditions in both the history of world … [Read more...]

Buddhist Ethics has a good day: on Philosophy, East and West

Almost 3 years ago exactly, 3 AM Magazine interviewed Jay Garfield, one of the best-known Buddhist philosophers in academia today. I wrote about that interview and still look back fondly on the comments and conversations that ensued.So it was with great joy that I saw 3 AM Magazine's latest interview with a Buddhist philosopher: Nicolas Bommarito, who teaches at NYU and the University of Buffalo. It was a great reminder that great thought within the academy is still being devoted to Buddhist … [Read more...]

Universities are facing an “intellectual crisis”

Speaking at the annual conference of the European Universities Association in Galway, Irish President Michael D. Higgins made remarks that should reverberate around the world and through the mouths and policy statements of educators and policy makers everywhere.On the disconnect between policy makers and education today, Higgins said (emphasis added): I suggest that at the present moment in Europe and far beyond it, insofar as policy makers focus attention on education policy, they tend to … [Read more...]

Mindfulness, Buddhism, and Philosophy, for the love of language, and the limits of language

One of the highlights of the recent Mindfulness, MOOCs, and Money in Higher Education conference at Naropa University (March 18-21) was a small break-out session led by Carrie Bergman of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. We were joined by two Naropa faculty, Susan Burggraf and Cynthia Kneen (who co-founded Naropa and happens to be a classically trained clown), an undergraduate independent scholar from Amherst College named Vivian Mac, and James Rhem, Executive Director of the Nat … [Read more...]

Buddha in the Classroom: A little Zen for the Workplace

Subtitled: “Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers,” this is a book filled with much more than just “Zen” wisdom and it will surely inspire pretty much anyone who reads it. “The Burned-Out Professor.” To be fair, some of my appreciation for the book is purely selfish: the book feels like it was written specifically for me. The author, Donna Quesada, is a philosophy professor in California, a Buddhist, a yoga instructor, a connoisseur of world-wisdom, and a watcher of good movies. She tells us the … [Read more...]

Buddhism and Modernity: Conversations at the Edge, all three panels [Video]

Today the Mangalam Research Center posted video of a post-conference seminar following the June 3-7 Mindfulness & Compassion conference at San Francisco State University. The topic, "Buddhism and Modernity: Conversations at the Edge," drew a variety of responses from top academics in Buddhist studies and philosophy, psychologists, practitioners, and others. Below are the videos with brief notes and impressions. Panel 1: Buddhist Philosophy and the perennial concerns of Western p … [Read more...]

The philosopher Kant might have been skeptical of modern Mindfulness

One of the great joys of doing philosophy is drawing the great minds of the past into contemporary conversations. As we do this we attempt to step outside ourselves, in a sense, to broaden our perspective. As a student of the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), I have also been amazed by the ways in which his ideas have been brought into contemporary conversations over the past 200 years. Kant Scholarship Scholarship on Kant has taken an exciting turn over the last decade or … [Read more...]