Elucidations Episode 124: Graham Priest discusses Buddhist political philosophy
Episode link here:https://elucidations.now.sh/posts/episode-124/In this episode, Graham Priest returns to discuss Buddhist political philosophy with me and Henry Curtis.(Last month, we talked with him about Buddhist metaphysics.)Last month, we discussed the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: that suffering happens, that this suffering is (partially) caused by emotional attachment, that you can deal with it by changing your headspace, and that you can change your headspace by understanding the world, understanding your mind and body, and treating other people well.In this episode, our guest adds something to that list, which he calls the '0-th noble truth'.This is the idea that suffering is bad.That idea appears as a foundational premise across many different Buddhist philosophical traditions, and he suspects that it can be used as the basis for political philosophy.You might remember last month's episode when we talked about 'anatman', which is the Sanskrit word for the Buddhist principle that there is no self.Priest makes the interesting proposal that the 0-th Noble Truth plus 'anatman' gives us the view that we should care about suffering equally no matter who is suffering.We should just try to reduce the global amount of suffering anywhere in the world.Graham Priest then argues that industrial capitalism is the cause of a lot of the suffering in today's world.Countless numbers of people are compelled by circumstance to work in exploitative jobs that overwork and underpay them, while others reap the profit from their work.If that further claim is correct, then it would seem to lead to the conclusion that a political philosophy based on Buddhist ethics would have to propose some alternative to industrial capitalism.Would a political system based Buddhist principles then have to look like socialism, or communism, or anarchism?Maybe, but the question turns out to be a bit complicated.Tune in to find out!Would a political system based Buddhist principles then have to look like socialism, or communism, or anarchism?Maybe, but it's a bit complicated.Tune in to find out!
Episode 123: Graham Priest discusses Buddhist metaphysics
In this episode, Matt Teichman and Henry Curtis talk to Graham Priest (CUNY Graduate Center) about the philosophical foundations of Buddhism.Buddhism isn't just a religion--it's an entire family of philosophical traditions that took root all over the Asian continent for thousands of years. The historical Buddha articulated views in what we consider to be many different areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. For this episode, we're focusing on the metaphysics.Metaphysics means different things to different people, but our guest thinks of it as a broad inquiry into the structure of reality at a fundamental level, space and time, what substance is, cause and effect, what makes any given thing the thing it is. And one of many things he finds interesting about Buddhism is that over the years, Buddhists have floated metaphysical views that don't arise in the Western traditions.One cool example he gives is a view associated with Madhyamaka Buddhism that nothing has a nature that makes it independent of its relation to anything else in the world. So take me, Matt. I am what I am not just because of properties that I have in and of myself, but because of the relation I stand in to certain other things. (Though not all other things, as he hastens to point out.) Like for example, I have a special relation to New Jersey: I was born and grew up there. So facts about what Matt is and what he's like is are tangled up with facts about what New Jersey is and what it's like.Graham Priest further observes that this general view leads to skepticism about whether anything is maximally explanatorily basic, which is a view that hasn't been explored by many contemporary philosophers. Like, most contemporary philosophers who work on metaphysics would say that a flagpole is more basic than the shadow it casts, because you could have the flagpole without the shadow, but not the other way around. There wouldn't be anything for the shadow to be a shadow of! Priest thinks that the Madhyamaka view that everything is dependent on something else leads to the further view that no one thing or set of things can be most basic.Join us as our guest walks us through the core metaphysical tenets of Buddhism!
Episode 122: Frithjof Bergmann and David Helmbold discuss new work, new culture
In this episode, Frithjof Bergmann and David Helmbold make the case for a different approach to working in the modern world. A lot of us experience our day to day work as a 'mild disease'--not terrible, not excruciating, but also not our #1 choice about how to spend weekdays. Instead, they argue, a person's work should be the best part of their life. But making that a possibility for everyone requires not just our social structures to transform--it requires a kind of personal psychological transformation.Check out our blog for more info!https://elucidations.now.sh/posts/episode-122/
Episode 121: Aaron Ben Ze'ev discusses the arc of love
In this episode, Matt Teichman and Julia Liu talk to Aaron Ben Ze'ev (University of Haifa) about lifelong romantic love. What is love? Is it just a private feeling that each individual person experiences, or is it something that crucially involves multiple people? Our guest argues that although it is primarily a feeling, it is also something that emerges out of the interaction between two people.
Episode 120: Robin Dembroff on going beyond the gender binary
Ever wonder what 'gender non-binary' means? Don't worry--Robin Dembroff (Yale University) is here to walk us through the relevant terminology, along with the everyday moral issues that are tied up with the gender concepts we use.
Episode 119: Stephanie Kapusta discusses misgendering
In this episode, our guest argues that in addition to ordinary individual cases of misgendering, in which one person gets another person's gender wrong when they address them, there's a broader sense of the term. In the broader sense, a philosophical account of what gender is can also misgender people. How? The idea is that in signing yourself up for an incorrect philosophical account of gender, you could be committing yourself to the view that certain people are not the gender they (correctly) claim to be.
Episode 118: Tyler Cowen discusses Stubborn Attachments
In this episode, Tyler Cowen lays out an interesting normative ethical theory according to which we should be utilitarians, but with a twist: we should be utilitarians who care just as much about the humans of the future as we care about people now. Re-emphasizing our commitment to future people, he argues, has the effect of allowing us to embrace utilitarianism wholeheartedly without having to feel like we aren't doing enough. Why? The best way to make life better for future generations is to help bring about economic growth, and we have good reason to think that a lot of what we're already doing is pretty good for economic growth.