Confucius in middle age
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
6d ago
There is a famous passage from Confucius that goes like this: The Master said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.” This is section 2.4 of the Analects, Confucius’s selected sayings. The translation is an old one from James Legge, which is freely available online. I’m not claiming that Legge is a particularly good translation, but it’s adeq ..read more
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King’s improvement on Gandhi
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
2w ago
Tomorrow the United States celebrates a holiday in honour of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boston University, where I work, is always eager to remind everyone that King got his doctorate there. They are not always as eager to remind you that King studied at the School of Theology – and clearly learned his lessons there well, for he was not merely a great activist but a great philosopher. I have come to know King’s thought through the courses I have taught in BU’s philosophy department – even though the courses were on Indian philosophy. I have nevertheless included King on the syllabus for that clas ..read more
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Honing in on a disagreement
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
1M ago
I wanted to reflect a bit more on my debate with Charles Goodman at Princeton this November. (If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video of the debate and our handouts.) I don’t think either of us would consider the debate conclusive. Indeed, following the debate, our conversations that afternoon indicated that the issues we were really concerned about lay elsewhere. A brief summary of where the debate itself went: the Charles calls Śāntideva a utilitarian because Śāntideva is a universalist consequentialist; that means that he is concerned with bringing about the best overall consequences f ..read more
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Video debate: “Śāntideva: utilitarian or eudaimonist?”
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
1M ago
This November, Charles Goodman and I had a wonderful debate at Princeton’s Center for Culture, Society and Religion, on the interpretation of Śāntideva’s ethics: Charles claims that Śāntideva is a utilitarian, I claim that he is a eudaimonist. You can now watch the video of the debate on the Center’s website; I hope you enjoy! Charles and I refer a lot in the debate to the handouts we created; I’m attaching them here. Lele handoutDownload Goodman handoutDownload ..read more
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Introducing Canadian Hegelianism
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
2M ago
Hegel wrote about Canada just once, in the Lectures on the Philosophy of History, and what he said comes down to: mostly harmless. His main concern in that passage is the future power of the United States; having noted that the poor organization of the American colonies prevented them from conquering Canada, he then adds that Canada and Mexico “present no serious threat” to the US, and then moves on. It is scarcely more consideration than Rousseau’s dismissal of Canada as “a few acres of snow”; like the fictional Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy discussing Earth, Hegel pauses on Canada only lo ..read more
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Who cares about phenomenological similarities?
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
2M ago
I think one often learns the most about a philosopher from those points where her views change. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a way I think my own thought has changed recently. Ten years ago on this blog, I posted an essay that I had written ten years before that, for Robert M. Gimello’s graduate course on Buddhist meditation traditions. That paper critiques Ninian Smart’s chapter “What would Buddhaghosa have made of The Cloud of Unknowing?” (in Steven Katz’s Mysticism and Language). My now twenty-year-old essay tears Smart to pieces for his comparison between Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhi ..read more
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Mystical experience across cultures
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
3M ago
There are likely a number of religious-studies scholars who would cringe and groan at Roland Griffiths’s studies of drug-induced mystical experience. I haven’t gone into their literature in a while, but I think it would be easy for them to say Griffiths is setting the study of mysticism back many decades. Because Griffiths’s stated conception of mystical experience is one that many religionists would already have considered very dated – even when I was studying them twenty years ago. I say this because Griffiths’s first groundbreaking study, in indicating that many psilocybin volunteers had my ..read more
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Two South Asian approaches to gender ethics
Love of All Wisdom
by Sandhya Lele
3M ago
I was recently invited to a recent Buddhist-ethics conference featuring a workshop discussion on gender. I decided to attend the workshop en femme – as Sandhya – because I thought it might be relevant, though I wasn’t sure how. It turned out it was. The workshop, hosted by Amy Langenberg and Antoinette DeNapoli, showcased the pair’s work on the welcome South Asian phenomenon of female renouncers. DeNapoli studied Mataji, a guru in Madhya Pradesh who declared herself a Shankaracharya (a monastic leader in Śaṅkara’s lineage). Langenberg studied the Peace Grove Institute, a community of female Th ..read more
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A speculation on Ken Wilber’s experiences
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
4M ago
As I reflected back on the works of Ken Wilber recently, a thought occurred to me: man, that guy must have done a lot of drugs. I don’t recall Wilber ever saying anything about drugs in his work one way or the other. Given that he wrote most of his work under the restrictive régime of the late-20th-century US, that shouldn’t be a surprise; caution is valuable. Yet he is an American baby boomer deeply interested in spirituality and mysticism; that is the sort of profile that leads one to expect significant experimentation with psychoactive substances. But more importantly than his demographic ..read more
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On chemically induced mystical experience
Love of All Wisdom
by Amod Lele
4M ago
One of the more exciting scholarly developments of the century to date has been the growth of studies – previously hindered for too long by legal barriers – into mystical experiences induced by psychedelic drugs. In a landmark 2006 experiment, rigorously controlled and double-blind, Roland Griffiths’s research team at Johns Hopkins University found that people given high doses of psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms – typically had experiences they described as “having substantial personal meaning and spiritual significance”, and bore several other characteristics in comm ..read more
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