Presenter Information

Sarah Littman

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Room 271

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Epistemology, Chinese Buddhism, Poetry

Abstract

While the Eastern and Western philosophical traditions are often perceived to be at odds with one another, by and large this is a result of a difference in approach and focus. Case in point, within George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s text, Philosophy in the Flesh, they challenge often overlooked assumptions within epistemology through argument and empirical data. They make the case that, much like the regulation of the heart or lungs, the mechanisms behind thought take place unconsciously. If true, this would imply that we cannot recognize the way we form our thoughts or use language. That is why the full title of their text is actually, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. However, there is a certain irony to this title, as it claims to challenge Western thought while remaining very much within its tradition. In the Eastern philosophical perception, introspection is the focus. Especially in the case of Chinese Buddhism, mental reflection, control, and cultivation are all essential for progression. Though it is far from a simple task, the monks and nuns of Chinese Buddhism claim that with diligence, anyone may gain awareness of their cognitive processes. In particular, poetry from Buddhist masters acknowledges their form and use of language, but then encourages us to move beyond the illusion. Granted, in almost every case the corporeal human perception is inescapable, Chinese Buddhists serve as proof that, in reality, human beings can transcend our natural cognitive tendencies through diligence and strict self-discipline.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dippmann, Jeffery

Additional Mentoring Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Share

COinS
 
May 15th, 11:40 AM May 15th, 12:00 PM

Epistemology through Buddhist Poetry: A Real Challenge to Western Thought

SURC Room 271

While the Eastern and Western philosophical traditions are often perceived to be at odds with one another, by and large this is a result of a difference in approach and focus. Case in point, within George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s text, Philosophy in the Flesh, they challenge often overlooked assumptions within epistemology through argument and empirical data. They make the case that, much like the regulation of the heart or lungs, the mechanisms behind thought take place unconsciously. If true, this would imply that we cannot recognize the way we form our thoughts or use language. That is why the full title of their text is actually, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. However, there is a certain irony to this title, as it claims to challenge Western thought while remaining very much within its tradition. In the Eastern philosophical perception, introspection is the focus. Especially in the case of Chinese Buddhism, mental reflection, control, and cultivation are all essential for progression. Though it is far from a simple task, the monks and nuns of Chinese Buddhism claim that with diligence, anyone may gain awareness of their cognitive processes. In particular, poetry from Buddhist masters acknowledges their form and use of language, but then encourages us to move beyond the illusion. Granted, in almost every case the corporeal human perception is inescapable, Chinese Buddhists serve as proof that, in reality, human beings can transcend our natural cognitive tendencies through diligence and strict self-discipline.