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


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


“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...]

The Word ‘Revolution’

Egypt 2011 christians protect praying muslims

In which I meander through four philosophers: Weil, Marx, Kant, and Scruton and, somewhat strangely, take up a conservative position regarding the 'revolution' in Egypt... The word 'revolution' is a word for which you kill, for which you die, for which you send the labouring masses to their death, but which does not possess any content.- Simone Weil, Oppression and Liberty Born and raised as a Jew in France in the early 1900s, Weil was drawn to philosophy, mysticism, and political activism … [Read more...]

Quick takes: Technology and why you shouldn’t fly an airplane in a moving car

Note: in order to continue sharing and discussing the myriad things that come my way in a given day, I'll be posting these "quick takes." Ideally they will be short, topical, and have something to invite thoughtful discussion.Today the topic is technology: a topic I didn't think too seriously about until around 2004, when I was finishing my BA in Philosophy with my very good friend Ali Tabibnejad. We were both students of Albert Borgmann (in the video below, produced by Ali), who himself is … [Read more...]