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It’s a bit last minute, but readers of this blog might be interested in the following talk tonight:
“Can Ultimate Reality Change? Controversies Regarding the Yogic Practice School’s Path to Awakening” (John Powers, Deakin University, Australia)
The Yogic Practice School (Yogācāra) is one of the two main traditions of Indian Buddhist philosophy. Its luminaries made significant contributions to epistemology and logic, and they developed a sophisticated vision of the path to awakening aimed at transforming pathological mental patterns and developing attitudes conducive to more skillful engagement with other beings and the world. One of the most important Yogācāra doctrines is the “three natures”: the imputational, the other dependent, and the ultimately real. The first refers to false notions imputed to the phenomena of experience; the second involves viewing phenomena as arising in dependence on causes and conditions, which is correct on the conventional level but mistaken from an ultimate perspective. The ultimately real nature is how sages view things: without the false overlay of the imputational and free from subject-object dichotomy. I will begin with an overview of the three natures and how they function within the Yogācāra soteriological system, and will then discuss how the third—the ultimately real—has largely been mistranslated and misconstrued by contemporary scholars who work on the tradition. This is more than just termininological quibbling because correct understanding of the ultimately real is crucial to the entire Yogācāra project, and it has ramifications for Buddhist practice more generally.
John Powers is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and Professor of Religion at Deakin University in Australia. He is the author of 18 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters, mainly on Buddhist philosophy and history of ideas, as well as environmental history, human rights, and gender, and propaganda. His books include A Bull of A Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism (Harvard, 2009) and Dignāga’s Investigation of the Percept and Its Philosophical Legacy (with Douglas Duckworth, David Eckel, Jay Garfield, Sonam Thakchoe, and Yeshes Thabkhas. Oxford, 2017).
The Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia (IKGA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, is hosting a series of lectures titled “Method and Region.”
The aim of this initiative is to reflect on the relationship between method and region. Here, methodcomprises the entire apparatus that enables us to conduct scholarly studies, including non-European theories and concepts. Region stands for what is contextually specific, such as language, history or thought. The full program is available here.
The first lecture in the series will be on Tuesday, 30 March, 18:00–19:30 CET:
Tom J.F. Tillemans (Emeritus – University of Lausanne) — Methodology: Meditations of a philosophical Buddhologist
Topic: There was a famous incident in the 1980s that sent shivers down spines, and probably still does. A prominent Princeton philosopher put a notice on his office door that philosophy students should just say “No” to the history of philosophy – Western and Eastern alike, I suppose. It may well be that the Princeton philosopher was a bit misinterpreted, but the echo of Nancy Reagan’s right-wing method to combat drug addiction – just say “No” – was unmistakable. I am going to turn the tables and look at some arguments by historians for nay-saying to philosophy, in particular those of historians of Asian thought and specialists in Buddhist Studies. Such arguments, too, don’t fare well. I will close with an instructive example from another field, linguistics, and will add a few morals to the story.
The lecture will be held online and is open to the public. To register, please write to office.ikga(at)oeaw.ac.at.
Upcoming lectures in the series Method and Region are:
Jiang WU has reviewed John Makeham, ed., The Buddhist Roots of Zhu Xi’s Philosophical Thought (Oxford, 2018) in the latest Journal of Chinese Religions; see here. One excerpt:
The current volume under review is thus a welcome step towards reevaluating the Buddhist influence on the formation of Zhu Xi’s Neo-Confucian philosophy. Not only will it rekindle interest in philosophical issues among China specialists, it also helps to correct the previous tendency, or even bias, to overemphasize the social, intellectual, and historical aspects. This dominant approach tends to reduce philosophical arguments to a set of ideological dogmas conditioned by their social and cultural contexts, such as the competition for literati patronage. (p. 304)
Below is information from the ISCP regarding the 22nd International Conference of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy (ISCP):
Five special theme articles on good and evil in Korean Philosophy, Religion, and Spirituality have been published in Acta Koreana, vol. 22, no. 2 (December 2019).
From the Guest Editor
“Buddhist Philosophy Today: Theories and Forms,” Rafal Stepien
Submission Guidelines and Information
“Philosophy, Quo Vadis? Buddhism and the Academic Study of Philosophy,” Brook Ziporyn
“What/Who Determines the Value of Buddhist Philosophy in Modern Academia?,” Hans-Rudolf Kantor
“Buddhist Philosophy? Arguments from Somewhere,” Rafal Stepien
“Doing Buddhist Philosophy,” C. W. Huntington, Jr.
“Decolonizing the Buddhist Mind,” Mattia Salvini
“Reflecting on Buddhist Philosophy with Pierre Hadot,” Matthew T. Kapstein
“Some Suggestions for Future Directions of the Study of Buddhist Philosophy,” Jan Westerhoff
“Practicing Buddhist Philosophy as Philosophy,” Pierre-Julien Harter
“Emptiness, Multiverses, and the Conception of a Multi-Entry Philosophy,” Gereon Kopf
“Buddhist Philosophy and the Neuroscientific Study of Meditation: Critical Reflections,” Birgit Kellner
Oxford University Press has published a second translation in the Oxford Chinese Thought series, which is the Treatise on Awakening Mahāyāna Faith, a translation of the Dasheng qixin lun 大乘起信論. We are very pleased to make widely available this scholarly translation of one of the most influential texts in East Asian Buddhism. This is the product of years of careful work by John Jorgensen, Dan Lusthaus, John Makeham, and Mark Strange. A short description follows below the fold.