5/21 Davey Tomlinson presents on self-consciousness and objective forms in Buddhist philosophy

I’ll be speaking about the changing ways that Indian Buddhist idealists construed the relation between objects or appearances and self-consciousness. We’ll walk through (rather quickly) about 500 years of intellectual history: from the foundation of Buddhist epistemology in Dignāga’s writings, through the work of non-Buddhist critics, to what is a properly transcendental account of self-consciousness in reaction to those criticisms. Finally, we’ll dwell on the understudied writings of Ratnākaraśānti, wherein that account of self-consciousness is connected to the unorthodox idealist position that the essence of consciousness is not intentional (Nirākāravāda), a position I hope to show is not as untenable as it may seem. Finally, we’ll touch briefly on the soteriological implications of all this, tentatively answering the question: how can the ordinary mind transform into that of a buddha? My work in this regard is extremely speculative, so I’m looking forward to conversation. No previous knowledge of Buddhism or Indian philosophy more generally is necessary (or desired): my hope is to begin a conversation with the Workshop that I plan to continue over the coming years, one in which 1000 year old Sanskrit and Tibetan texts are appreciated and discussed in contemporary philosophical terms.

5/14 Christoph Menke presents on Hegel’s conception of freedom as liberation

Terry Pinkard and Robert Pippin have shown that Hegel’s critique of autonomy is formulated as the diagnosis of a paradox, the so-called “paradox of autonomy”. In this paper, I will first explain what this paradox consists in and demonstrate why it requires us to conceive of freedom as a process of liberation. In doing so, I grant a central role to Hegel’s claim that the law’s mode of existence is simply tobe: laws only exist as beings or entities, and in that respect and to that extent they are not free. I will then sketch the way Hegel consequently understands liberation as a dialectical process of social development, education, or enculturation (Bildung). To conceive freedom as liberation means thinking of it as the permanent transformation of society.





5/7 Ross Jacobs presents on the contemporary relevance of Kant’s political philosophy

The paper will re-articulate and defend Immanuel Kant’s international political thought against the criticism by Leo Strauss in his 1935  anti-Kantian work Philosophy and Law. More generally, I seek to bring the international political thought of Kant into conversation with research on under-explored philosophical and theological-political resources within the traditions of contemporary democratic theory, philosophy, and theology. I argue that Kant’s critique of Sino-Russian authoritarianism needs to be brought back into the conversation if we are to defend Kant from those, like Strauss, who seek to caricature his politics. Thus this paper aims to initiate the project of re-writing the philosophy of history contested by many leading Euro-American “scholar-prophets of social justice”  in order to re-cultivate receptivity to Immanuel Kant’s theory of international democratic peace as it finds expression in “Perpetual Peace” and the “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim. In the end, I will argue that Strauss ‘s anti-Kantianism is indicative of an overwhelming sympathy to what Charles Taylor critiques as the “radical enlightenment” and an over-exposure to the highly problematic claims of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. These facts may render, I suggest,  Leo Strauss’ corpus un-worthy of serving what Michael Sandel has called America’s “public philosophy.”