Notes on teaching Buddhist philosophy

buddha with plato and aristotle at the academy

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...]

That all-too-human urge to understand the heart of things

the jains

As I discussed in a recent post at the Indian Philosophy Blog, there is quite often a divide in approaches taken to the study of religion between what we might broadly call the 'philosophers' and the 'historians'. Philosophers, and I count myself as one of these most days, seek out the meaning of texts, seeing them as doorways into distant lands and into the minds of great thinkers, past and present. We often have to construct meanings through fragmentary and at times conflicting evidence: at o … [Read more...]

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...]

Buddhism is a Religion: a guest post by Dr. David Brazier, Dharmavidya

dharmavidya

Editor's note: It is a great honour to introduce this essay by Dharmavidya, Dr. David Brazier. As regular readers will know, I am interested in the question of concepts and how they are used in our study of things (or processes?) like Buddhism. When we call Buddhism a "philosophy", what does that mean? Well, what do we mean by "philosophy" and what do we mean by "Buddhism"? I explored the question last fall in Buddhism: religion or philosophy? and returned to some of the central issues in my … [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...]

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...]


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