Division(s) and Transformation(s): Five Cognitive Stations in the Delimitation of Things (有分與物化:知物的五層封野)

 

Chiayu Hsu

Postdoc, UChicago Divinity School

The courses (Daos) of transformation—this is the Zhuangzi’s most manifest and recurrently zig-zagging theme. For Zhuangzi, the world is “changing and transforming, never constant.” The transformations of the ten-thousand things never having begun to reach their limit, we nevertheless draw lines over this world transforming at each moment, dividing it up into sections, and establishing boundaries.
In Part II of a joint series on Zhuangzi & Absolute Division, we will analyze a passage in the Equalizing Assessments of Things which expressly sets forth the delimitation of things within human knowledge, and illustrates what Zhuangzi takes to be the five stations of the cognition, as well as the interrelation between division(s) and transformation(s).

Although we’ve chosen to present Chiayu’s paper in bi-lingual format, with the Chinese and newly translated English side-by-side, conversation will be held in English. No prior background in Chinese is required!

Thursday, May 20th, 6:30pm CT

The workshop will focus on a pre-circulated paper (available here) and will be largely discussion-based. 

Please contact tjneenan@uchicago.edu for the Zoom link. 

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The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

Anil Mundra

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Critique, Contradiction, and Common Sense in the Anekāntajayapatākā

The Jain theory of “non-one-sidedness” (anekāntavāda) — that any real object possesses contrary properties — has understandably been deemed paradoxical by both its classical Indian detractors and many well-wishing modern proponents. However, examination of a Sanskrit locus classicus, Haribhadrasūri’s Victory Flag of Non-One-Sidedness (Anekāntajayapatākā, c. 8thcentury C.E.), reveals that the theory insists not only on non-contradiction but indeed the dictates of common sense. On this reading, its basic insight turns out rather like Hegel’s “determinate negation” without his idealism.

This is a draft of the central chapter of my dissertation, and it is long and technical. The central concepts of the text come on pages 3, 19, and 28. But beyond that, those of you who understandably do not want to wade through the whole thing might consider choosing your own adventure depending on your interests:
  • If you’re into Anglo-American and “common sense” philosophy, go directly to the second section: “Experience and Intuition, Common Sense and Conventional Practice” (~15 pp.)
  • If you incline more toward Continental philosophy and Hegel, go to the third section: “Contradiction and the Compossibility of Contraries” (~15 pp.)
  • If you’re most interested in Sanskrit intellectual history and exegesis, go to the fourth section: “Hermeneutics and Doxography” (~5 pp.)
  • If you’d rather think about the methodological issues of comparativism, go to the last section “Comparison, Common Sense, and Colonialism” (~2 pp.)

I’m very grateful to anyone who takes the trouble to read and discuss even a single section!

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, April 13th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link and password for the paper, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu).

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Jack Plimpton

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Through a comparative study of Georges Bataille and Jean Gebser, a theory emerges suggestive of two forms of human existence wherein both hold the quality of consciousness/being as non-differentiation; one as humanity’s origin and another as humanity’s ‘endpoint’ in its mutational becoming. To use an Abrahamic traditional metaphor, the first form of existence is the state of non-differentiation while in Eden whereas the latter is a post-Fallen reunion with God. Bataille exemplifies the position that humanity must retreat into the state of existence before its archaic Fall, before its archaic break from intimate continuity; this is similarly the approach of ascetics. While Gebser recognizes through his own framework the truth in an archaic form of existence, or consciousness, he sees this method as backtracking and alternatively proposes humans integrate their various structures of consciousness to realize a Zen, satori-like, integral enlightenment which transcends differentiation. With Gebser’s method, non-differentiation is achieved again but in a deeper form of non-differentiation. Due to their essence of non-differentiation like water in water, these two forms of human existence raise many questions. Foremost, if these two states of existence can be distinguished, it must be quantitatively by depth, which suggests a new purposive explanation about humanity’s archaic Fall from continuity.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 16th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

What is ‘Comparativism’ in Philosophy of Religions? 

A faculty conversation sponsored by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop

Tuesday, February 9

6:00-7:00

Virtual Event (Zoom)

Join us to discuss questions like “What is ‘comparativism’ in the Philosophy of Religions?” “How does one communicate between divergent definitions of ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ across times and traditions?” “Does comparative work in the Philosophy of Religions have its own distinct object and methodology? Or is there perhaps something of comparativism at stake in the Philosophy of Religions in general?” Professors Daniel Arnold and Brook Ziporyn will share their perspectives on the roles and contemporary challenges of comparativism in the field. A large portion of the conversation will be dedicated to student questions. All are welcome to join! 

Please contact workshop coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) and Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) with any questions concerning this event. 

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The Workshop is committed to being fully accessible and inclusive.  Please contact Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) or Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in Workshop events.

Danica Cao: Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

Danica Cao

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions

Return to the Fundamental Substance against the Pursuit of Authentic Dharmadhātu—The 1943 Debate between Xiong Shili and Lü Cheng

“This paper examines a debate that took place in 1943 between the New Confucian philosopher Xiong Shili 熊十力 (1885-1968), known for his Buddho-Confucian work New Treatise on Consciousness-Only (xin weishi lun 新唯識論), and the Buddhologist Lü Cheng 呂澂 (1896-1989), one of the earliest scholars in modern China to have mastered languages like Sanskrit, Pāli, and Tibetan, and developed new methods of textual criticism. More specifically, it deals with 1) the fundamental contrast between “intrinsic awareness” and “intrinsic quiescence” Lü places between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism; 2) Xiong’s adoption of the word “ontology” in conjunction with “cosmology” for his philosophy; and 3) Xiong’s critique of teleology in Lü’s scholarly commitments. In engaging closely with these three points of contention, this paper seeks to make sense of the conceptual space charted out by their debate, which is both traditional in its continuation of a series of pre-modern metaphysical oppositions in East Asian thought and modern in the tensions created by their drastically different methodological tendencies. Such a space is created with anxieties over defining their philosophies of religion against Western challenges in the background, but comparisons with Europe hardly enter the debate proper. What sorts of roles does “India” play here as a mediating other? What are the limitations and inspirations of such visions? Can we enlist these thinkers as predecessors to a transcultural philosophy of religions?”

The paper may be accessed here. E-mail Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) for the password.

Thursday, December 3, 6:00 PM CDT

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

John Marvin: Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA

John Marvin

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

Edward Nelson vs. Arithmetic: God, Iconoclasm, and the (In)consistency of PA 

This paper examines the final mathematical work of Edward Nelson, his attempted proof of the inconsistency of Peano arithmetic and primitive recursive arithmetic, fo- cusing on its philosophical framing and its admitted religious motivations with consid- eration of both his theologically adjacent writings and his account of a visionary expe- rience. The paper outlines the mathematical and philosophical significance of Nelson’s attempted proof, and clarifies the relationships among that project, his mathematical formalism, and his religious convictions. The article situates Nelson’s thought in terms of its inheritance from Catholic Aristotelianism, iconoclastic and apophatic discourses, and its relationship to post-20th-century foundational debates. This paper will try to address concerns including: how would one be driven by religious convictions and experiences to heterodox positions in the philosophy of mathematics, and why would one feel it necessary to make dramatic technical discoveries to defend such convictions, as Nelson did? The body of this paper presents Nelson’s work and thought in a man- ner accessible to the engaged mathematical layperson, offering a simplified intuition for keystone ideas from modern logic when necessary, with more rigorous and precise discussions offered for interest and accuracy in frequently referenced appendices. The article is intended to be a comprehensive account of Nelson’s final writings and their reception, providing mathematical specialists with a unified resource for the historical and philosophical details surrounding Nelson’s proof attempt as well as with a lucid but sufficiently technical presentation of the proof’s strategies, and, for scholars in other fields, serving as an introduction to and a vignette of a previously inaccessible, philosophically significant event in very recent mathematical history. 

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, November 10th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

Michael Naas : Grace and the Machine:Jacques Derrida’s Perjury and Pardon I (Seminar of 1997-1998)

Michael Naas

Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University

Grace and the Machine:Jacques Derrida’s Perjury and Pardon I (Seminar of 1997-1998)

Tuesday, October 20th 6:00 PM CDT

“This paper focuses on the first volume of Derrida’s seminar Perjury and Pardon (1997- 1998), where Derrida returns, more than a quarter of a century after “Signature Event Context,” to questions of contingency and the speech act and, especially, the possibility of a speech act in writing. After demonstrating that what Derrida means in this seminar by “perjury” (parjure) is not just a lying under oath but a much more general “breach of faith,” I argue that every successful performative is haunted by just such a breach of faith and that writing turns out to be the paradigm for understanding this breach. I go on to show how this displacement of “acts of perjury” from speech to writing, this move to a “speech act” in writing, to what Derrida here often calls an oeuvre, ends up challenging many of the assumptions of speech act theory as articulated by John Austin and those (such as John Searle) who followed him. For such a work or “act” in writing would have to be, for example, essentially detached or detachable from its context, severed right from the start from anything like the intention or the living presence of the author or actor of the act, in a word, severed from the life that would have supposedly produced it. Hence the emphasis here on the “machine,” and thus the question of whether the text or the oeuvre as machine can “produce” something like a speech act and whether this can lead—beyond life—to a sort of grace.”

Hosted by the Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture Club and the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Ryan Bingham at ryansbingham@uchicago.edu.

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.