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Global Philosophy Group Talk (Sonam Kachru, Virginia)

Friday March 26, 2021, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The  Global Philosophy Research Interest Group is delighted to welcome Sonam Kachru as a guest speaker. Dr. Kachru is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.He is especially drawn to the philosophy of mind (consciousness, attention, imagination), metaphysics, and philosophical anthropology. Professor Kachru’s first monograph (forthcoming with Columbia University Press) is titled Other Lives: Mind, and World in Indian Buddhism. It offers a new interpretation of the Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu and the role of Buddhist cosmology in the Buddhist philosophy of mind.

Join the event at:

Meeting ID: 861 2224 2320

Passcode: 867193


Talk Title

Engaging Meta-cognitive Practices: On the Uses (and Possible Abuse) of Meditation in Philosophy

Talk Abstract

It is sometimes suggested that meditation must either provide epistemic access to deeper levels of reality (pertaining either to oneself or other parts of the world) or risk not having any direct relevance to philosophy. In the absence of any such epistemic payoff, meditation might even be antithetical to philosophy. Here’s an argument: Philosophy is in the business of using thought to get at truth; meditation, absent some unique epistemic payoff, involves, at best, the mere manipulation of thought with alethically idle mechanisms aimed at non-philosophical ends. Call that the problem of irrelevance. At worst, it may even be thought to involve the generation of carefully contrived illusions for therapeutic ends. Call that the problem of the epistemic costliness of meditation. But are there deeper or unique realities to be discovered by meditative experience? If not, the problems of irrelevance or costliness might suggest that meditation does or not or even should not hold any relevance to philosophy, except perhaps as a case study of possible and possibly misleading experiences.

The argument has been made using contemporary as well as premodern conceptual tools and perspectives. Here, I push against the opening disjunction on the basis of meta-philosophical perspectives from premodern India. I resist two pictures: first, the picture on which meditation must either have an epistemological role of providing access to facts or the accumulation of beliefs or no philosophically interesting role at all; and second, the implicit picture of philosophy on which the above dilemma rests. On the view I propose, meditation can involve varieties of metacognitive engagement with a range of contents and cognitive experiences; these engagements are transformative in different ways and may be pursued to different ends. Depending on how one defines philosophical practice, some uses of the above metacognitive exercises can be assessed as being relevant to philosophy, though we get different models for relevance based on whether we look to ancient philosophy in Greece and India, medieval Indian philosophy, or contemporary academic Anglophone philosophy.

About the Global Philosophy Group

The Global Philosophy Research Interest Group explores the benefits of drawing on diverse traditions of thought in approaching philosophical questions. These include novel insights into familiar problems, new questions and research directions, and fresh methodologies. We work to deprovincialize and decolonize all aspects of philosophy in the academy. The group currently has strengths in Sanskrit philosophy, and Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy in English, and classical Islamic philosophy.



Friday March 26, 2021
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Global Philosophy Research Interest Group
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