Oct
11
Fri
The Role of Negative Emotions in the Good Life: Reflections from the Zhuangzi. Richard Kim @ Columbia University Religion Dept. 101
Oct 11 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

The philosophical and psychological literature on well-being tend to focus on the prudential value of positive emotions such as pleasure, joy, or gratitude. But how do the negative emotions such as grief fit into our understanding of well-being? It is often assumed that negative emotions are intrinsically bad far us and that we should work toward eliminating them, especially from the perspective of our own well-being.

In this presentation I want to question this assumption by drawing on the ideas of Zhuangzi (a prominent early Daoist thinker from the 4th Century BCE) to argue that negative emotions are not intrinsically bad for us, and that their prudential value or disvalue is context dependent. Zhuangzi’s outlook, with his focus on the flexibility of perspectives and living according to our natural, spontaneous inclinations, gives us reason to reconsider the role of negative emotions in our lives and how we might think about them in a more constructive way.

With responses from: CHRISTOPHER GOWANS  (Fordham University)

The Fall dates for the Comparative Philosophy seminar:

September 20 – Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University)
October 11 – Richard Kim (Loyola University, Chicago
November 8 – Sungmoon Kim (City University of Hong Kong)
December 6 – Paul R. Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)

More details (such as titles, abstracts, and respondents) to follow. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Hagop Sarkissian
Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy, The City University of New York, Baruch College
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center 
Co-Director, Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy

https://www.cbs.columbia.edu/cscp/

Nov
8
Fri
Buddhism and Politics in Korea @ International Affairs Building, Room 918
Nov 8 @ 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Abstracts:

“Giving as Spending and Spending as Giving: Buddhism and the Politics of Spending during the Chosŏn Dynasty”
Juhn Ahn, University of Michigan

The impact of the Koryŏ-Chosŏn transition on the Buddhist establishment in Korea is generally understood in current scholarship to have been a negative one. It is all too often assumed that Buddhist monasteries, who enjoyed great economic prosperity under Koryŏ’s culture of giving, were forced to undergo a radical reduction in size and number and their wealth confiscated to replenish the empty royal fisc. There is also a tendency to assume that this systematic restructuring of the Buddhist establishment, often dubbed its “decline,” was orchestrated and executed by a small group of reform-minded Neo-Confucian scholar-officials who saw Buddhism as an economic parasite and cause of unnecessary spending. It is true that the Buddhist establishment never again enjoyed the kind of wealth that it once did during the Koryŏ, but this paper argues that we should not take this as a sign of decline or the necessary outcome of state suppression. Instead, this paper will turn its attention to the politics of spending that continued to shape and reshape the Chosŏn court and show that the politics of spending provided the Buddhist establishment with an opportunity—an opportunity that it did in fact use—to redefine the conditions of its existence.

“Court Lady Ch’ŏn Ilch’ŏng (1848 – 1934) in the Making of Modern Korean Buddhism”
Hwansoo Kim, Yale University

In this talk, I will introduce the work of a forgotten Korean Buddhist laywoman who served as one of the highest-ranking ladies in the court of the late Chosŏn dynasty. I will demonstrate that Court Lady Ch’ŏn (1848 – 1934) was as integral to modernizing Korean Buddhism during the pre-colonial and colonial era as the Korean Buddhist monastics with whom she worked. By examining Ch’ŏn’s seminal role in the incipient stage of modern Korean Buddhism, the history of female Buddhist leadership can be extended.

Ch’ŏn primarily worked with the Korean monk and leader Yi Hoegwang (1862-1933), drawing on a wide network of relationships both inside and outside the court to help him establish the first modern institution of Korean Buddhism, build the first modern temple in central Seoul, and open a Buddhist clinic. However, because Yi was later condemned by historiography as the worst of Buddhists who had collaborated with Korea’s colonizer, Ch’ŏn’s leadership and legacy were likewise stigmatized and sidelined. This talk seeks to restore Ch’ŏn’s centrality as a Buddhist modernizer, thereby giving balance to a largely male-centered and ethno-centric history and lengthening the lineage of lay female leadership in the transformation of Korean Buddhism in the early twentieth century.

“Buddhism and State Violence in Modern Korea”
Jin Y. Park, American University

Historically, Korean Buddhism has been known as “State Protection Buddhism” (護國佛敎). The seemingly positive character of this description also points to the limitations of Korean Buddhism’s role in the broader context of society. A state should exist to protect its members, but history has witnessed that the state can and did exercise its power against its members. Which members did the Korean government support, and which were sacrificed in the process? What role did Korean Buddhism play in the unfolding of that history?

This presentation deals with Buddhism’s response to state violence in modern Korea. Through an analysis of a specific instance of state violence and Korean Buddhism’s response, the presentation tries to gauge Korean Buddhism’s capacity to engage with the socio-political milieu of human existence.

Co-sponsored by
The Academy of Korean Studies, Seoul Korea; Weatherhead East Asian Institute; the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; The Department of Religion;  The Center for Buddhism and East Asian Religion

Dec
6
Fri
The Immortal Spirit in Classical Chinese Aesthetics. Paul Goldin (UPenn) @ Columbia University Religion Dept. 101
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

This will be the third (and, time permitting, some material from the fourth) of a series of lectures that I aim to write up formally as a book.  We will begin with a brief review of the most familiar theory of Chinese aesthetics: works of art are the products of sensitive human beings who cannot suppress their sincere responses to emotional stimuli.  If art is understood as a sincere statement of this kind by a great genius, it stands to reason that, by correctly interpreting the work, one can communicate with that genius’s mind (xin 心) even after his or her death–and, likewise, that an artist today can communicate with audiences yet unborn.  Art is thus timeless and offers the possibility of incorporeal immortality.  If there is extra time, I will also survey two interrelated phenomena that I call meta-criticism and meta-writing (since there are no technical terms for them in Chinese).  Meta-criticism, i.e. criticism of criticism, is a major feature of Chinese theories about art.  Meta-criticism must be related to meta-writing, or the practice of writing about writing while exemplifying the very styles and techniques that one recommends: for example, artfully rhyming a couplet about rhyming.

With responses from: SANDRA SHAPSHAY (Hunter College, CUNY)


The Fall dates for the Comparative Philosophy seminar:

September 20 – Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University)
October 11 – Richard Kim (Loyola University, Chicago
November 8 – Sungmoon Kim (City University of Hong Kong)
December 6 – Paul R. Goldin (University of Pennsylvania)

More details (such as titles, abstracts, and respondents) to follow. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Hagop Sarkissian
Associate Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy, The City University of New York, Baruch College
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center 
Co-Director, Columbia Society for Comparative Philosophy

https://www.cbs.columbia.edu/cscp/

Oct
22
Fri
A Discussion of Fa (法) in the Shenzi: Eirik Lang Harris @ ZOOM - see site for details
Oct 22 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

ABSTRACT: The Shenzi Fragments, numbering a mere 3,000 or so characters in length, is all that remains of a work attributed to Shen Dao (ca. 350-275 BCE). While perhaps best known for his appearance in the Han Feizi as an advocate for positional power (勢 shi), he also makes an appearance in the Xunzi as one who is blinded by his focus on 法 fa (models, standards, laws).  We will examine the fragments that discuss fa in an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of the role that these fragments see for the fa, how they are to be determined, and why Shen Dao took them to be central to a strong, stable, and flourishing state. The fragments, in classical Chinese with English translations (Harris 2016), are included here as a PDF attachment.

 

DATE: October 22, 2021

TIME: 7:00-8:30 pm

 

This seminar will take place via Zoom (please scroll down for the full invitation). Below you will find the link to join the meeting. The attached file is an instruction manual to help you familiarize yourself with the program. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the program’s basic functions, there are two things we ask you to do before the meeting can start. First, you will need to sign in by typing your name in the chat. Subsequently, we will have to agree on the privacy policy for the meeting. The privacy policy provided by the Columbia University Seminars Office will be read aloud. To indicate your agreement, you will raise your virtual Zoom hand in the Participants panel. In the manual, you will find step-by-step instructions of how to sign in and to raise your hand.

Lead Presenter: Eirik Lang Harris

Discussants:  Alejandro Bárcenas (Texas State University), Yutang Jin (Princeton University), Mercedes Valmisa (Gettysburg College)

Note Regarding Donations: Due to COVID-19, donations are only accepted through Columbia University’s secure online giving form, Giving to Columbia.

Mar
25
Fri
Li Zehou. Deep Structures of Confucianism @ Zoom
Mar 25 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY

 

Presents: Li Zehou on the ‘Deep Structures of Confucianism’

Lead Presenter: Andrew Lambert (College of Staten Island, CUNY)

Discussants:  Robert A. Carleo III (East China Normal University), Emma Buchtel (Hong Kong Education University)

ABSTRACT: Contemporary Chinese intellectual Li Zehou’s cross-cultural methodology blends traditional Confucian thought with thinkers such as Kant and Marx. This seminar addresses the question of culture and its role in Li’s thought. Li has made several claims about how a settled cultural tradition influences the subjects within it. One such claim concerns the existence of ‘deep structures’ of Confucianism, as outlined in this preparatory reading. The idea is that culture, history, and social practice (collectively, a tradition) shape human psychology (including the formation of concepts, emotions, and values) in ways not always apparent to the subject. Within the Chinese tradition, Confucianism constitutes such a deep structure, and its effects cannot be captured by textual studies alone, nor studies of material culture. Rather, the deep structure is articulated in terms of an emergent shared subjectivity. Such traditions can evolve and ultimately dissolve; nevertheless, their effects are deep-rooted. This seminar meeting will aim to identify the parameters of Li’s ambitious theoretical framework and its plausibility, and to explore connections with current work in related fields, such as cultural and empirical psychology.

DATE: March 25, 2022

TIME: 6:30 – 8:00 pm EST

This seminar will take place via Zoom (please scroll down for the full invitation). Below you will find the link to join the meeting. Here is an instruction manual to help you familiarize yourself with the program. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the program’s basic functions, there are two things we ask you to do before the meeting can start. First, you will need to sign in by typing your name in the chat. Subsequently, we will have to agree on the privacy policy for the meeting. The privacy policy provided by the Columbia University Seminars Office will be read aloud. To indicate your agreement, you will raise your virtual Zoom hand in the Participants panel. In the manual, you will find step-by-step instructions of how to sign in and to raise your hand. 

Note Regarding Donations: Due to COVID-19, donations are only accepted through Columbia University’s secure online giving form, Giving to Columbia.

 

Accessibility Statement: Columbia University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. The University Seminars participants with dis- abilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may contact the Office of Disability Services at 212.854.2388 or disability@columbia.edu. Disability accommodations, including sign-language interpreters, are available on request. Requests for accommodations must be made two weeks in advance. On campus, seminar participants with disabilities should alert a Public Safety Officer  if they need assistance accessing campus. 

PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE: https://universityseminars.columbia.edu/seminars/comparative-philosophy/

May
13
Fri
A Case against Simple-mindedness: Śrīgupta on Mental Mereology. Allison Aitken, Columbia @ Faculty House, Columbia U
May 13 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

THE COLUMBIA SOCIETY FOR COMPARATIVE PHILOSOPHY

Welcomes you to an IN-PERSON meeting:

Allison Aitken (Columbia University)

« A Case against Simple-mindedness: Śrīgupta on Mental Mereology »

With responses from Alexander Englert (Princeton University)

ABSTRACT: There’s a common line of reasoning which supposes that the phenomenal unity of conscious experience is grounded in a mind-like simple subject. To the contrary, Mādhyamika Buddhist philosophers beginning with Śrīgupta (seventh-eighth century) argue that any kind of mental simple is incoherent and thus metaphysically impossible. Lacking any unifying principle, the phenomenal unity of conscious experience is instead an ungrounded illusion. In this talk, I will present an analysis of Śrīgupta’s “neither-one-nor-many argument” against mental simples and show how his line of reasoning is driven by a set of implicit questions concerning the nature of and relation between consciousness and its intentional object. These questions not only set the agenda for centuries of intra-Buddhist debate on the topic, but they are also questions to which any defender of unified consciousness or a simple subject of experience arguably owes responses.

Sep
29
Thu
I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes: Imaginative Meditation and Experience of Love in Medieval Contemplative Philosophy. Christina Van Dyke, Barnard @ 716 Philosophy Hall
Sep 29 @ 4:10 pm – 6:00 pm

Thursday, September 29th, 2022
Christina Van Dyke (Barnard College)
Title “I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes: Imaginative Meditation and Experience of Love in Medieval Contemplative Philosophy”
4:10-6:00 PM
716 Philosophy Hall

Sep
30
Fri
Buddhist Conventional Truth and Ontological Pluralism. Laura P. Guerrero (William & Mary) @ Faculty House, Columbia U
Sep 30 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

With responses from Mark Siderits (Illinois State University)

ABSTRACT: Buddhist philosophers often draw a distinction between two different kinds of truth: conventional truth (saṃvṭi-satya) and ultimate truth (paramārtha-satya). Abhidharma Buddhists philosophers typically understand this distinction in terms of an ontological distinction between two different kinds of entities: ultimately real entities (paramārtha-sat) and conventionally real entities (saṃvṛti-sat). Similar to contemporary philosophical discussions about ordinary objects, Buddhist philosophers debate the ontological status of conventional entities and the semantics of discourse concerning them. Mark Siderits (2015, 2021, 2022) has influentially argued for an eliminitivist position he calls “Buddhist reductionism” that interprets the Abhidharma position as one that denies conventional entities exist but that retains discourse involving apparent reference to them. However, in a recent article Kris McDaniel (2019), a prominent defender of ontological pluralism, challenges that view by proposing that the Abhidharma Buddhist distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth be “defined up” from a more basic distinction between two different ways an entity can exist: conventionally or ultimately. In this paper I argue that Saṃghabhadra’s account of conventional reality and truth does lends itself well to McDaniel’s proposal but I will also argue that the account of conventional and ultimate truth that results differs in important ways from the models he offers. I will end by offering a modification of McDaniel’s account of conventional truth that is derived from Saṃghabhadra’s pluralist ontology. That view will, unlike the views suggested by both Siderits and McDaniel, allow for there to be ultimate truths about what is conventionally true.

 

Dinner will be kindly offered by the Columbia University Seminars. 

RSVP is required for dinner. Please email Lucilla with eating requirements at lm3335@columbia.edu. 

Oct
14
Fri
How to nurture compassion? Some lessons from Asian philosophical traditions. Sin Yee Chan (U Vermont) @ Faculty House, Columbia U
Oct 14 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

With responses from Timothy Connolly (East Stroudsburg University)

ABSTRACT: Recent philosophical discussions on compassion focus on the value and the nature of compassion as an emotion. Ancient Asian philosophical traditions such as Confucianism and Buddhism, however, emphasize compassion as a character trait that should be nurtured. This paper examines the insights drawn from these traditions to help inform the nurturing of compassion. For example, is empathy a necessary tool?  What is the role of love and care?  Does self-reflection contribute to the process?

 

Dinner will be kindly offered by the Columbia University Seminars. 

RSVP is required for dinner. Please email Lucilla with eating requirements at lm3335@columbia.edu.