Lecture tag: Philosophy

Session 1: Gadamer’s Biography: Beyond Theism and Atheism

Gadamer appears to be an unusually secular figure among the phenomenologists of his day; unlike those who began as theologians, his study of classical culture taught him to study religion dispassionately, while embracing religious arts as a channel for his own concerns. Influenced by “Swabian piety”, Bultmannn’s ‘demythologisation’, the spirituality and humanism of the classical world, ‘free-thinkers’ such as Goethe, Rilke, and Stefan George, and creative re-thinkers of the Christian tradition such as Scheler and Heidegger, Gadamer affirmed both the cultural contingency of faith, and its confessional power.

Session 2: Gadamer’s Hermeneutics: Bias, Understanding, and Expanding Horizons

Gadamer saw culture, religion, and art as ‘living texts’ that integrate our life experience into a meaningful worldview that allows us to think, act, and create. But no worldview is ever static or finished; in ‘understanding’ we use bias (that of ourselves and others) as the raw material from which a new worldview is created. In this respect Gadamer shares much with Aristotelian and later Vitalist thinkers. But Gadamer also affirms that texts can act poetically as ‘angels’, as he puts it in his studies of Rilke and Paul Celan, gesturing toward the transcendence of that which cannot be encompassed in human thought.

Session 3: Gadamer’s Metaphysics: Vitalism, Spirit, and Immanence

Amid theologies of Being and secular philosophies, Gadamer explored a middle ground of non-theistic perspectives, reclaiming a philosophy of immanent ‘spirit’. in his work on Plato and Hegel, he was often in dialogue with the classical Greek and later German traditions of ‘pantheist’ or ‘immanentist’ thought found in Spinoza, Lessing, Schleiermacher, Dilthey, and others. In many respects, Gadamer appears as one of the twentieth century’s first philosophers of immanence.

Session 4: Gadamer’s Globalism: Culture, Difference and Pluralism

In the later years of his career, at a retreat exploring religion on the Island of Capri with Derrida and other post-Heideggerian thinkers, Gadamer who insisted that attention to non-Western religions was essential for any steps forward. He encouraged cross–cultural scholars to see themselves as creatively opening up ever-expanding horizons of understanding within their own tradition, and gradually building a new global horizon. Seen in this light, the rich cultural plurality of modern globalism affords us the opportunity to continue a history-long process of growth.

Readings in Phenomenology: Session Eight (MT 14)

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century that has had a deep impact on Theology and Religious Studies. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we will be reading Paul Ricoeur Oneself as Another (trans Kathleen Blamey, University of Chicago Press, 1992). Week 1 we will discuss Chapter one, ‘Person and Identifying Reference, a Semantic Approach.’

Readings in Phenomenology: Session Seven (MT 14)

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century that has had a deep impact on Theology and Religious Studies. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we will be reading Paul Ricoeur Oneself as Another (trans Kathleen Blamey, University of Chicago Press, 1992). Week 1 we will discuss Chapter one, ‘Person and Identifying Reference, a Semantic Approach.’

Readings in Phenomenology: Session Four (MT 14)

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century that has had a deep impact on Theology and Religious Studies. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we will be reading Paul Ricoeur Oneself as Another (trans Kathleen Blamey, University of Chicago Press, 1992). Week 1 we will discuss Chapter one, ‘Person and Identifying Reference, a Semantic Approach.’

What kind of Philosophical Theory is Madhyamaka? (MT 14)

Majewski Lecture

The Madhyamaka school of philosophy has been credited as being the central philosophy of Buddhism and also as a kind of anti-philosophy of pure critique that simply seeks to demonstrate the contradictory nature of all statements about the world. This lecture explores the nature of philosophical argument in Madhyamaka and the kind of philosophical theory that the Madhyamaka is.

Originally trained as a philosopher and orientialist, Jan Westerhoff‘s research focuses on philosophical aspects of the religious traditions of ancient India. Much of his work concentrates on Buddhist thought (especially Madhyamaka) as preserved in Sanskrit and Tibetan sources, he also has a lively interest in Classical Indian philosophy (particularly Nyāya). His research on Buddhist philosophy covers both theoretical (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language) and normative aspects (ethics); he is also interested in the investigation of Buddhist meditative practice from the perspective of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. Some publications (for more information see www.janwesterhoff.net) are ‘The connection between ontology and ethics in Madhyamaka’ in: The Cowherds: Moonpaths: Ethics and Madhyamaka Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014; The Dispeller of Disputes: Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī, Oxford University Press, 2010; Twelve Examples of Illusion, Oxford University Press, 2010; Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka. A Philosophical Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2009; ‘The Madhyamaka Concept of svabhāva: Ontological and Cognitive Aspects’, Asian Philosophy, 2007, 17:1, 17-45; Ontological Categories. Their Nature and Significance, Oxford University Press, 2005.

 

Conceptions of Liberation in Classical Indian Philosophy: Session Four

In this series of four classes Professor Isaacson will discuss the concept of liberation with particular reference to the section on apavarga (i.e. moksa, liberation) in the Nyayamanjari, the masterpiece of the ninth-century scholar and poet Bhatta Jayanta. In each class we will read a portion of the text and Professor Isaacson will comment upon it. Among other materials that may be brought into the discussion are the Paramok?anirasakarikaof Sadyojyotis and the commentary thereon by Bha??a Ramaka??ha. Professor Isaacson is Professor of Classical Indology at the University of Hamburg. His doctoral work at the University of Leiden was in classical Vaise?ika. He has been a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Wolfson College Oxford, and the International Institute for Buddhist Studies, Tokyo, and a Sabbatical Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in tantric traditions in pre-13th century South Asia, especially Vajrayana Buddhism, and is an expert in classical Sanskrit poetry, classical Indian philosophy, Pura?ic literature, and manuscript studies.

Suffering

This seminar will explore the idea of suffering in Hindu traditions and the proposed remedies for its termination.