Symposium: Contemporary Buddhist Philosophy

Symposium: Contemporary Buddhist Philosophy

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Join us for an upcoming symposium on Buddhism and Contemporary Philosophy hosted by Evan Thompson and Jessica Main. We are pleased to welcome Bronwyn Finnigan, Tom Tillemans, and Koji Tanaka through the support of UBC’s Department of Philosophy and The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society.

  • 1:00 – 4:30 PM
  • Saturday, September 12, 2015
  • UBC | CK Choi Building | Room 120 | 1855 West Mall

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Bronwyn Finnigan

Bronwyn Finnigan (School of Philosophy, Australian National University)

“Discovering Fear: A Study in Buddhist Philosophy of Mind” 

Buddhists assume that mental states can be both reportable events in phenomenal consciousness and have a ‘background’ causal influence on our experience and behavior of which we are not immediately aware but need meditation and reflection to uncover. This paper will investigate what the nature of mental states must be like to admit these possibilities and will examine whether Buddhist philosophies of mind are adequate to the task.


Tom Tillemans

Tom Tillemans (Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies, University of Lausanne)

“How to Do Philosophy with Buddhism” 

One can clearly do analytic metaphysics with some of the  great Buddhist philosophers. Other  Buddhists – especially some Madhyamikas, i.e., the followers of Nagarjuna and the Middle Way School – are quite out of step with our current metaphysical debates and orientations. They represent a kind of minority approach, a type of quietism whose interest would lie in what it offers to metaontology rather than to substantive debates in metaphysics. Two Buddhisms and two quite different connections to Philosophy: we’ll look at the prospects for both.


Koji TanakaKoji Tanaka (School of Philosophy, Australian National University)

“Prasanga and the Norms of Logic”

Gilbert Harman argues that logic, as a science of consequence relations (‘proof or argument’), is not the same thing as reasoning in the sense of a procedure for ‘reasoned change in view’. He maintains that logic does not tell us how to rationally change our views (or beliefs). Hartry Field understands Harman to be arguing that logic has no normative role in reasoning. By referring to the debate between Bhaviveka (6th C.E.) and Candrakirti (7th C.E.) regarding the nature of prasanga (reductio ad absurdum), I will demonstrate that Harman is mistaken to deny that logic has a significant normative role in reasoning.

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