Buddhist Philosophy

Schools of Public Engagement: Humanities

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Buddhist Philosophy
Fall 2023
Taught By: Karsten Struhl
Section: A

CRN: 15723

Credits: 3

While Buddhism is a religious tradition with the goal of spiritual liberation from suffering, it was also, from its origin in Ancient India 2500 years ago, a philosophical attempt to understand reality, the mind, and the meaning of life. In this course, we will address Buddhism as philosophy, rather than as a religious practice. Thus, we will critically engage Buddhism with attention to its core philosophical concepts and doctrines – e.g., the pervasiveness of suffering (dukkha), no-self, impermanence, emptiness, and enlightenment (nirvāna) – and the arguments for those doctrines. We will reflect both on the historical context of these arguments and their implications for contemporary philosophical work in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and ethics. We will also examine the Buddhist ethics of loving kindness and compassion and the archetypal ideal of the Bodhisattva. As we do so, it will become clear that there is no one philosophy of Buddhism, since there are a number of forms of Buddhism with different philosophical perspectives as well as a variety of Buddhist thinkers who have philosophical disagreements with each other. We will, therefore, begin by exploring the central philosophical arguments attributed to the historical Buddha and the more systematic metaphysical and epistemological theories of the early schools of Buddhism. We will then proceed to examine the development of Mahāyāna Buddhism; after which we will consider a more unorthodox form of Buddhism that arose as it migrated from South Asia to China (Ch’an) and then to Japan (Zen). We will also consider modern interpretations of Buddhist philosophy, including socially engaged Buddhism. Finally, throughout this course, we will discuss and practice different forms of Buddhist meditation and consider their relevance for philosophical investigation and for the world today.

College: Schools of Public Engagement (NS)

Department: Humanities (NHUM)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 21

Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Open*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 2:58pm EDT 5/31/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Tuesday
Times: 6:00pm - 7:50pm
Building: TBD
Room: TBD
Date Range: 8/29/2023 - 12/5/2023