Classes in Language and Philosophy – Winter 2012

Classes in Language and Philosophy – Winter 2012

The Accountable Self: Bringing Buddhist Teachings into Modern Discourse
Monday evenings, 7:00-9:00 PM, February 13-March 19 (6 weeks). $110
Instructor, Jack Petranker

One of the defining teachings in Buddhism is that the self has no substantial existence. Yet our sense of being a self is almost inescapable. Even in the context of Buddhism, it is natural to say that that self is the one who chooses to follow the path, the one who experiences the consequences of its actions–in short, that the self is accountable for its actions and their consequences. Then how can we make sense of the no-self teachings? This course looks at this question in light of the special sense of self that has emerged over 2,500 years of Western thought, with a special focus on the modern understanding of the self’s role in a universe without meaning. A follow up course will be offered in the spring.

Jack Petranker holds a law degree from Yale and an M.A. in political theory from the University of California, Berkeley.  A former Dean of the Tibetan Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, he has also served as North American Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (1988-92).  His own academic work is in the fields of consciousness studies and organizational change.  He has been director of Mangalam Research Center since its founding in 2008.

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Why Buddhists Care About Language (Part 1)
Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, February 16 – March 22 (6 weeks). $110
Instructor: Alberto Todeschini

From the very beginning, Buddhists have devoted a great deal of attention to language. Such attention has been directed at a number of issues, including the ethical dimensions of verbal communication, scriptural authenticity, textual interpretation, ineffability, the relationship between language and thought and between language and our perception of reality, etc. The course is organized in a two-part series covering several ethical, doctrinal, philosophical and historical topics. Each part consists of six weekly classes. The second part will build on the first one, but is structured in such a way that it can be taken independently.

Alberto Todeschini received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is currently postdoctoral scholar at the Mangalam Research Center and visiting postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley’s Institute of East Asian Studies. Previously, he has taught at universities in the U.S., Britain and Nepal and has been research fellow at Kyoto University and Ryukoku University in Japan. His current research includes Buddhist philosophy of language and epistemology, the use of rhetoric in South Asian religions, and the relationship between contemporary forms of Buddhism, skepticism, and atheism.

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