The Nature of Reality: Buddhist Scholar Alan Wallace in dialogue with Physicist Sean Carroll

During my undergraduate studies in philosophy at the University of Montana, I took a 'capstone' class on Philosophy of Mind. We started with Descartes, setting out the direction that Western thinkers would take: the problem of mind (immaterial, without spatial relations) and body (material, spatially located) interacting with one another. This is the "mind-body problem" and it vexed Descartes 400 years ago and it vexes those who look deeply into it today.The "problem" is not only in regard … [Read more...]

Atheist engagement with Buddhism: denying (or redefining) awakening

I have long believed that positions, religious or otherwise, can be strengthened or (wisely) abandoned when met with careful argumentation. Do your claims to "X" hold up? If not, why not let them go?So I was pleased to read a post today on the Atheist Channel here at Patheos asking "Was the Buddha enlightened?"There, Eric Sotnak presents a well-reasoned case against the Buddha's enlightenment (or awakening) based on the doctrine's connection to rebirth and the lack of evidence for … [Read more...]

Tibetan Buddhist nuns make history with Geshema Degrees (Doctorates in Buddhist Philosophy)

From the Tibetan Nuns Project: Seattle, WA: Twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns have just made history, becoming the first Tibetan women to successfully pass all the exams for the Geshema degree, equivalent to a Doctorate in Buddhist philosophy. Exam results were announced by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration. All 20 candidates for the degree passed.Their success fulfills a longstanding wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and marks a new chapter in the … [Read more...]

All Good Intentions: But does Sam Harris have what it takes to be Buddhist?

A guest post by Marek Sullivan:The recent email scuffle between linguistics professor and political commentator Noam Chomsky, and atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris has brought to light the severity of Harris’s emphasis on intention as the ultimate moral parameter in questions of military ethics. According to Harris, “Ethically speaking, intention is (nearly) the whole story.” This is how he can claim that Bill Clinton and Osama Bin Laden live “in a different moral universe entirely,” or elsew … [Read more...]

Notes on teaching Buddhist philosophy

I'm teaching Buddhist philosophy in Bodhgaya, India at the moment, so much of my blogging-life is taken up by activities here. In lieu of all of that (I will post on my usual topics now and then) I thought I'd share notes from my teaching.Teaching Buddhist philosophy to American college students from diverse backgrounds (some with extensive philosophy, some with Buddhism, some with a mix or neither) has been a challenge. To start, I wanted to get them thinking as philosophers, inheritors of … [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...]