Religion Department is a co-sponsor of the following talk hosted by the Philosophy Department.
Buddhist accounts of the ultimate truth, especially in the Mahāyāna tradition, emphasize the fact that it is beyond all conception and inexpressible, yet knowable. If the path to awakening is to make sense, the ultimate truth of which we have discursive knowledge prior to awakening must in some sense be the same as that to which we have access after awakening. This leads immediately to paradox, and this paradox leads to debates regarding the relationship between the categorized ultimate we know prior to awakening and the uncategorized ultimate we know after awakening. I explore some of these debates, defending the position of Tsongkhapa and the Geluk tradition.
Jay L. Garfield chairs the Philosophy Department at Smith College. He is also visiting professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, professor of philosophy at Melbourne University and adjunct professor of philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies.
Garfield’s research addresses topics in the foundations of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind; the history of Indian philosophy during the colonial period; topics in ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of logic; methodology in cross-cultural interpretation; and topics in Buddhist philosophy, particularly Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka and Yogācāra. Garfield’s most recent books are Minds Without Fear: Philosophy in the Indian Renaissance (with Nalini Bhushan, 2017), Dignāga’s Investigation of the Percept: A Philosophical Legacy in India and Tibet (with Douglas Duckworth, David Eckel, John Powers, Yeshes Thabkhas and Sonam Thakchöe, 2016), Engaging Buddhism: Why it Matters to Philosophy (2015), Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness (with the Cowherds, 2015), and Madhyamaka and Yogācāra: Allies or Rivals? (co-edited with Jan Westerhoff, 2015).
He is currently working on a book with Yasuo Deguchi, Graham Priest and Robert Sharf, What Can’t Be Said: Paradox and Contradiction in East Asian Philosophy; a book on Hume’s Treatise, The Concealed Operations of Custom: Hume’s Treatise from the Inside Out; a large collaborative project on Geluk-Sakya epistemological debates in 15th- to 18th-century Tibet following on Taktshang Lotsawa’s 18 Great Contradictions in the Thought of Tsongkhapa and empirical research with another team on the impact of religious ideology on attitudes toward death.