• Founded
  • Seminar Number

The Comparative Philosophy Seminar seeks to advance constructive philosophical projects by bringing together scholars with training in diverse areas of Asian (mostly Buddhist) thought and Western Philosophy. Comparison in this context is not employed to loan authority to one set of obscure discoveries by revealing its resonances with the works of others, deemed less obscure. Nor does it sociologize philosophy in search of general laws of human cultural and intellectual development. Rather, the intent is to explicate, and employ, the fullness of an expanded philosophical toolset—and see how that works. The seminar ordinarily invites respondents who are versed in the relevant field of philosophical inquiry, but who are not necessarily specialists in Asian thought. In order to facilitate an ongoing conversation, seminar meetings for a given year are loosely organized around a very general theme, which speakers are asked to address when possible. In past years, the themes have been “Personal Identity” (2007–2008) and “Meta-Ethics” (2008–2009).

Professor Jonathan C. Gold

Professor Hagop Sarkissian

Verena Meyer

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020 fall semester. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

10/09/2020 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
Mind Only Thought as Metapraxis, Mind Only as Diagnosis
Joy Brennan, Kenyon College


In this talk I outline the features of an interpretation of mind only Buddhist thought as a form of metapraxis. Metapraxis refers to the systematic study of reality where both conceptual and existential priority is granted to the path as understood within Buddhist thought broadly, which refers to the process of transformation from suffering and delusion to freedom from them. The mind only school of Buddhist thought is often likened to various forms of epistemological or ontological idealism drawn from the early modern philosophical tradition in Europe. In focusing on mind only thought as a form of metapraxis, we better see the strengths and weaknesses of this position. In specific, the metapractical framing makes clear that one of the fundamental claims of this school of thought, the eponymous claim that our worlds and experiences of "mind only", is not a static claim about the way things are, but a diagnosis of a condition to be overcome.

11/06/2020 Online Meeting
5:30 PM
Discussion of Zhuangzi

12/11/2020 Online Meeting
5:30 PM
Discussion of Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra