What is the course about?
An examination of Buddhist philosophy and philosophers.
Buddhist thought has continuously developed over two thousand years, yet still remains thought of as distinct and different from western thought. - as though one had to choose between them. Yet both share a great many concerns in common. Indeed, Buddhist thought offers strikingly contemporary ideas that are relevant to framing key philosophical questions such as the nature of mind, the self, what exists, free will, how to live and so on.The overall approach will be to treat Buddhist philosophy as an intellectual resource that may be used to significant benefit.
What will we cover?
Given the range of Buddhist thought and thinkers, we will restrict our attention to the great North Indian Buddhist philosophers such as Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu and to the development of Buddhist philosophy in the Chinese/Japanese ‘Chan’/’Zen’ traditions.Topics will include: The idea of the ‘Buddha’; ‘suffering’ its causes and remedies; the nature of persons and the ‘bodhisattva’; Buddhist metaphysics and views on the nature of reality as ‘empty’; the 5 ‘skandhas ’ (‘constituents’ of experience); finding one’s way in Buddhist writings; some key Buddhist philosophers and schools including Madhyamaka and Yogacara and also Chan/Zen and the role of ‘koans’ (‘puzzles’). We will also examine the role of meditation in Buddhist philosophy.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Explain, simply, some basic Buddhist philosophical views on the nature and meaning of suffering, the nature of persons, and the metaphysical significance of ‘emptiness’.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course that assumes no specific philosophical learning or ability other than an interest in thinking philosophically. A willingness to engage in thinking-through and discussing ideas will be of benefit – some perseverance in any of reading provided may be required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will run, in the main, in a ‘seminar’ format with brief tutor presentations followed by Q&A and open discussion. There may be some small-group formats for discussion based on topics arising from the short readings. Participants are advised to read the relevant material prior to the sessions.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Participants may wish to take notes with pen & paper, laptop or tablet according to their preference.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please check our website - www.citylit.ac.uk - to see the philosophy courses on offer.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details