Buddhist philosophy

Course Dates: 21/09/20 - 07/12/20
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Online

'Impermanence is the root of human suffering.' Over hundreds of years a highly developed philosophy grew from this simple idea. However, one does not need to adopt a religious outlook to benefit from Buddhist philosophy.

This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


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.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

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?

You might be interested in HP100 - Chinese Philosophy, starting in January 2021.


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Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

brilliant teacher
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Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 04/12/2018)
A difficult but fascinating subject taught by a tutor who knows his stuff and can enthuse and encaptivate his students with a passion to learn more.
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Review by Michael. / (Posted on 04/12/2018)
Tutor Biographies
John Goff Tutor Website

From reading Philosophy at a young age to the formal study of Cognitive Science, Philosophy & Psychology at the Universities of London and Sussex - after a prior career in video-arts - John Goff has been presenting philosophy courses to adults since the early 2000s. He uses a cross-disciplinary, seminar-based approach in his courses, drawing on Philosophy, Psychology and the wider Humanities & Social Sciences with an emphasis on the intersection of contemporary and classical European and Asian philosophical thought. He is the author of several works of philosophical fiction concerning artificial minds and organisms and alternative-human worlds including the novel 'The Last Days of the Most Hidden Man' and the novellas 'Eidopolis', 'Agents of Erasure' and 'Jupiter|Saturn'. His academic writings can be found on his academia.edu page at 'https://independentscholar.academia.edu/JohnGoff'.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HP054

Mon, day, 21 Sep - 07 Dec '20

Duration: 12 sessions (over 12 weeks)

Full fee: £229.00
Senior fee: £183.00
Concession: £140.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.