Benjamin Y. Fong – “Religion and the Mind: The Co-Delimitation of Concepts in the Eighteenth Century”

Benjamin Y. Fong (Assistant Collegiate Professor, The College, University of Chicago)

“Religion and the Mind: The Co-Delimitation of Concepts in the Eighteenth Century”

Wednesday, March 9th, 4:30 pm

Swift 106

Refreshments served

In The Meaning and End of Religion, Wilfred Cantwell Smith famously argued that the concept of “religion” gained its contemporary meaning in the Enlightenment.  In this paper, an expansion of Smith’s basic contention, I will attempt to demonstrate the immense importance of the new theory of a bodily, mortal, and fallible mind that emerged in the eighteenth century to the delimitation of the concept of religion.  Couching Smith’s argument in the history of psychology allows us to see more clearly what precisely is involved in the Enlightenment “reification” of religion, and also to better understand the basic features of the category of religion that contemporary religious studies scholars have come to know and lament.

[The paper will be distributed in advance of the event via the Workshop’s listerv]

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Monima Chadha on Selflessness and Experience in the Abhidharma

Monima Chadha (Monash University)

“Selfless Minds: An Abhidharma Buddhist Analysis of Experience”

Wednesday, Oct 7th, 4:30 pm

Swift Hall, 106


The Abhidharma view of mind and consciousness emerges as a consequence of the Buddhist doctrines of no-self and impermanence. These two doctrines taken together are not only fundamentally at odds with contemporary science and most Western philosophy but also with our ordinary everyday experiences. This revisionary Buddhist-Abhidharma metaphysics is profoundly counterintuitive. And the Buddhists are acutely aware of this fact. This underlies the Buddhist-Abhidharma drive to develop an accurate descriptive metaphysics of mind. In my paper I provide a rational reconstruction of a Buddhist-Abhidharma account of mind and conscious experience in the absence of mind or any persisting entities. And then I explore whether the sparse Abhidharma ontology can account for the phenomenological and cognitive features of our experience.