The “What’s everybody up to lately?” thread

We (Elisa, Amod and I) thought it might be nice to occasionally ask our contributors and readers to share what they’ve been thinking about lately, whether research-related, for conferences, teaching, blogging, organizational or administrative projects, or merely musings on subjects that interest you.

I’ll get the ball rolling myself, but first let me sneak in a happy announcement. One blog member who has been a bit silent lately has a good reason, and has some great recent news: Ethan Mills just accepted a tenure-track job offer from the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga! Aside from sharing our recent work, let’s all give Ethan a virtual handshake (or high five)!!!

Let me also add that we’d love to hear from readers who aren’t official contributors about what you’ve been up to or your interests. This would be a nice way to let our community get to know you a bit.

Personally, I recently finished a paper on Vātsyāyana’s formative influence on early Nyāya for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook for Indian Philosophy (ed. Jonardon Ganeri). In it, I try to illustrate the way in which Vātsyāyana frames cognition as fundamentally important because of its action-guiding role, and I try to use this theme to illustrate the cohesion between a number of his philosophical commitments. I’ve also just begun what is probably my busiest teaching semester so far. I’m teaching a number of new courses, including a team-taught seminar, Wisdom Literature (with a colleague in English) and  an honors colloquium on Comedy and Philosophy (this week’s topic: humor and bad taste). Given my teaching workload and other pressing responsibilities, I’ve given myself a self-imposed moratorium on new projects for a few months. Hopefully, I can also chip away at the small mountain of books-to-be-read that I’ve been building.

What is everybody else up to?

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

16 thoughts on “The “What’s everybody up to lately?” thread

  1. Thanks for the virtual high five, Matthew! I’m really loving my new job here at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). I’m currently teaching a course on Ancient Greek philosophy along with two sections of a general humanities course. I am planning a new intermediate course in Indian philosophy for spring 2015 and a general education course, Intro to Asian Philosophy, that will cover some South Asian and East Asian philosophy to start in fall 2015. For research, I’m working on a paper on Vasubandhu and another one comparing Sextus Empricius and Nāgārjuna on religious practice. I hope to start something soon on Jayarāśi’s and Candrakīrti’s critique of Dignāgan epistemology. My new email is Ethan-Mills@utc.edu if anyone would like to get in touch with me about advice and/or commiseration on any of my teaching or research projects.

  2. Hi everyone, and congratulations to Ethan!
    As for me, I am right now completing my paper and the general introduction for the EAAA conference on reuse in Asian art (http://elisafreschi.com/announcements/eaaa-conference-a-panel-on-the-reuse-in-visual-and-performative-arts/), which is part of an ongoing project of mine on the significance of reuse in South Asia (I already edited a volume about it and I am editing two new ones on related topics —with several colleagues, which is the nicest part of it).
    Then I will go back to my main project, that is Veṅkaṭanātha’s relationship to Mīmāṃsā and what this meant for his role within Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta.
    In 2015 I will be hosting three panels, one at the ATINER conference (on Indian philosophy of language: http://elisafreschi.com/announcements/cfp-language-as-a-tools-for-acquiring-knowledge-atiner-conference/), one at the WSC (on Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta: http://elisafreschi.com/2014/08/07/one-god-one-sastra-a-panel-for-the-wsc-2015/), one at the CBC (on the possibility of comparison in theology: http://elisafreschi.com/announcements/comparison-and-comparative-method-the-sixth-coffee-break-conference/). Readers and contributors of this blog are very welcome to join!
    Apart from that, I submitted a project on Mīmāṃsā deontic logic together with some colleagues working on formal logics. If it gets funded, I will focus on the structures of deontic logic in Mīmāṃsā over the next 2,5 years. Wish me good luck!

  3. Hi All,

    In light of the other posts I thought I would post up some of projects.

    As the new director of the center for comparative philosophy at SJSU I am planning to initiate a recurring (every two years) conference for inclusive philosophy where we bring together comparative philosophers and experimental / empirically sensitive philosophers along with traditional phenomenologists and analytic philosophers, as well as Latin American and Africana philosophers, and Arabic philosophers to engage in cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary philosophy. This will be an attempt to generate a future platform within the APA for philosophers from distinct groups that are interested in working across boundaries collaboratively. The goal would be to spark new conversations and potentially whole new collaborations and research areas.

    I also have a number of personal projects I am working on Indian and Comparative philosophy, these go outside of my usual work in epistemology.

    (i) For the past 1.5 years I have been working along with Dr. Bilimoria on Advaita Vedānta, Nyāya, and the Extended Mind Hypothesis. We are interested in a comparative examination of extended mind hypothesis. Our initial paper has made a lot of progress and we are getting good responses from those working in philosophy of mind on the comparative investigation of the issue. It is really exciting to discuss the extended mind hypothesis from a comparative point of view. I will be presenting our research at the pacific division APA for the SACP meeting.

    (ii) A new topic I am thinking about is the issue of self-awareness without a self. This is for the upcoming Eastern APA ISBP session on the issue. I am very interested in crossing the Buddhist discussion with new options from within Analytic philosophy on personal identity across the psychological-physical boundary.

    (iii) Another topic I am thinking about is recent work on non-conceputal content in early perception and the debate between Nyāya and the Buddhist on the content of perception. Most of this is in relation to Christian’s wonderful book Perceiving Reality.

    I was really excited to hear about Matt’s new paper, I am reading now, and Elisa potential project on Deontic logic! Exciting stuff!! Ethan I hope to meet you at some point. But congrats on the Job!!!

    I will end with a research request. I am desperately trying to find discussions of how we come to know whether something is possible or necessary from within Indian philosophy. If anyone knows of a discussion on this topic, or has an idea of why this topic was not discussed, I would be grateful.

    • Hi Anand, and thanks for these exciting updates. Concerning ii), what will be your distinctive contribution, if compared to the book on this topic edited by Kuznetsova, Ram Prasad and Ganeri, the one written by Zahavi (Self and Other) and the one edited by Zahavi, Siderits and Thompson (Self no-Self)? I would be very interested in reading about it from you.

      Concerning the last request, could you elaborate a little bit more?

      • Hi Elisa,

        I have some of those books, Ganeri’s Self, and the co-edited Self and No-Self. Now I will get the other books by Ram-Prasad and Zahavi. I don’t know that I have any distinctive contribution on the issue. It is very likely that I will end up running into something someone already said. I like the topic and I want to start thinking about it more seriously. There was a call for papers at the Eastern, so I submitted my ideas. I am interested in thinking about the issue from the perspective of different ways we might combine the no-self view in Buddhism while at the same time accounting for characteristics of self-awareness that require diachronic identity conditions that are stronger than the closest-continuer relation. I have two ideas I am interested in. One is the phase state view, the second is the locked expansion view. I am still looking to work out the metaphysics of each. In general, it looks to me like there is a lot written on this topic. You point to even more. So, my main goal is to try out an idea and learn what is out there and see how others respond to my ideas. Too many smart people working on this issue, leaves little for others. But you can only learn by trying. If you have any suggestions on other things I can read, please let me know. I already have a reading list for October.

        As for the other question, the issue is this. I work a lot, in my other area of research, on how we know whether something is possible or necessary. I work on this issue from the perspective of psychology, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. It strikes me that one can use some ideas from Indian philosophy to generate an inductive approach to how we know about possibility. But what I am really interested in is the comparative question of why this topic may not have been discussed, which is my current impression. For example, one could argue that in Western philosophy the interest in knowledge of possibility and necessity derives from the fact that many arguments, for example the existence of God, mind-body dualism, and idealism, in fact rest on some mechanism for determining what is possible and necessary. Descartes, Berkeley, and Hume explicitly state principles, and more recently David Chalmers has also defended a Neo-Cartesian account of conceivability. So, my question is: is there anything in Indian philosophy that addresses how we know about possibility as opposed to actuality. Of course pramāṇa debates engage perception, testimony, and inference. In this group inference seems to be the most likely candidate, but I was hoping for a more pointed discussion. And if there isn’t anything, I am very interested in thinking about reasons for the absence of discussion.

        Thanks for your question and request for clarification. Any wisdom or advice would be much appreciated.

        • Thanks for the answer, Anand. Perhaps you could elaborate on the latter point in a guest post? I guess that many other contributors might have interesting insights (and could oversee these comments). I, for one, would say that inference is often in India up to Dharmakīrti inductive, which rules out the possibility of its detecting necessity. From at least Dharmakīrti onwards, there is by contrast an interesting Buddhist-“Hindu” polemics, with the former thinkers upholding the unconceivability of, say, a certain thing being at the same time X and non-X, and the latter answering that this is actually the case. In other words, the former are the champions of logical necessity over actuality (if what we see contrasts with what can be, we should not trust what we believe we are seeing) whether the latter are the champions of actual states of affairs as the ultimate judge of truth and falsity (if something appears to be X and non-X at the same time, we have to change our theory about mutual exclusion).

  4. Hi everyone,

    I’m grateful that this opportunity to give a general ‘hello’ has come up. I am currently teaching Buddhist Philosophy on the Antioch Education Abroad: Buddhism in India program and nearing the completion of my PhD in Buddhist Ethics (at Goldsmiths, University of London with Damien Keown).

    My congrats also to Ethan on the new position, and to Matthew for his new post at Philosophy East and West. I look forward to getting back into book reviewing and job searching of my own in the spring.

    In recent work, I’ve co-authored a paper on “Reading the Buddha as a Philosopher” that will be published by Phil East and West in 2016; and I’m working through a paper on comparative meditation and ethics in early Buddhism and Jesuit thought for the Journal of Inter-Religious Studies (http://irdialogue.org/journal/). My interests have ranged from Tibetan Buddhism and comparative philosophy of mind to Theravadin applied ethics and I expect they’ll continue to do so in the coming years; all mainly focused on Buddhism.

    When I’m not here or out and about in Bodhgaya, you can find me writing about this and that at my blog (linked above).

    Cheers,

    Justin

  5. Coming late to the party because I was in Lisbon at a conference last week, I’ve got a couple things I’ve been working on. At the Dharmakirti conference in Heidelberg last month I presented the outgrowth of two workshops, in Heidelberg and Procida, bringing together logicians and Sanskritists to look at Ratnakirti’s _Isvarasadanadusanam_. In particular, I’m interested in the meta-level structure of the text as being a dispute about the scope and application of inference. I’d hoped to have the paper based on this work done by the end of last month, but preparations for moving to Durham have rather stymied that.

    At the conference I attended a very interesting talk by Ryo Sasaki about the early debate tradition, and the different types of debate that can be found mentioned in Buddhist texts, and it got me thinking about the relationship between these types of debates and the various classifications of dialogues that are found in contemporary formal argumentation research; this is something I’d like to do more investigation in (but see above regarding time!)

    Finally, Birgit Kellner and I are finishing up a paper on the “six-pointed argument” of Nagarjuna, which paper will hopefully come out in the proceedings volume from a workshop last Nov. some time later this year.

    • Sorry for this very late comment, but this sounds fascinating, Sara. I look forward to your findings, should you develop this:

      “At the conference I attended a very interesting talk by Ryo Sasaki about the early debate tradition, and the different types of debate that can be found mentioned in Buddhist texts, and it got me thinking about the relationship between these types of debates and the various classifications of dialogues that are found in contemporary formal argumentation research; this is something I’d like to do more investigation in (but see above regarding time!)”

  6. Hi Everyone,

    Great to hear so many interesting projects are developing.

    I’m working on a paper about the three yogas (karma, jñāna, bhakti) in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava doctrine. I’ve been reading a Sanskrit text by Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya (late 17th), a disciple of Viśvanātha Cakravartin (early 17th), that summarizes and organizes the history of the debate starting with Śrīdhara (mid-12th) up to his teacher.

    I’m also working on a paper for the American Academy of Religion (Comparative Theology section) about spiritual bodies (siddha-deha) in the Gauḍīya tradition.

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