FREEING MINDS A Campaign for St. John's College
Lectures are free and open to the public and are followed by a question-and-answer period.
See the entire fall 2018 Santa Fe campus lecture schedule.
Recordings and transcripts of lectures are available on the SJC Digital Archives site.
Karin Meyers, Princeton University
7:30 p.m. The Great Hall
At some point upon learning about the Buddhist doctrines of no-self, karma, and liberation, most western-educated students of Buddhism want to know: “Is there free will in Buddhism?” However, there is no term for “free will” in Buddhism, and the problem of free will has a distinct western theological and modern philosophical history. Yet, the Buddha promoted a kind of freedom (liberation from suffering) that presupposes an ability to choose between alternative courses of action, and attested to forms of mental control (regulation of emotion and thought and mind-over-matter powers) that extend far beyond the kinds of choice and control typically associated with free will.
This lecture will draw on a selection of the Buddha’s discourses from the Pāli Nikāyas to illustrate critical analogies (and dis-analogies) between the concerns that give rise to the idea and problem of the free will in the west and the concerns of Buddhist soteriology. It will pay particular attention to the cultivation of self-control through meditative praxis in light of the Buddhist teaching on no-self, and will suggest how the Buddhist understanding of this process may contribute to current free will debates.
Karin Meyers was a Visiting Associate Professor at Princeton University in Spring 2018, and teaches at Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies at Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Nepal, where she served as Director the Masters Program in Buddhist Studies from 2013–2018. She received her Ph.D. from University of Chicago Divinity School in 2010.
Professor Meyers’s work focuses on bringing Buddhist perspectives to bear on the cross-cultural philosophical investigation of metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical problems, as well as interdisciplinary inquiry into topics that occupy the borderlands between philosophy and religion, and comparative religion. Her publications include several articles on free will, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist contemplative practice, and theories of religious experience. She is currently writing a book, Buddhism and Free Will: A Case Study in Cross-Cultural Philosophical Inquiry.
Frank Pagano, St. John’s College, Santa Fe
7:30 p.m. The Great Hall
This lecture is part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Lecture Series on Literature
The difference between comedy and tragedy is clear when a comedy and tragedy share the same plot. This is the case with Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriasuzae and Euripides’ Bacchae. The two dramas present a man who sneaks into a festival, exclusively of women, celebrating a god or goddesses. Both men are caught, but in the comedy the man escapes and in the tragedy he is torn to pieces by his mother and aunts. The kinship between the plays is greater even than sharing the plot implies. Euripides is a character in the comedy and the author of the tragedy. His place in the comedy is taken by Dionysus in the tragedy. Aristophanes and Euripides in their plays describe contrasting destinies for Greek civilization. These destinies depend upon whether Eros or Dionysus prevails. The lecturer has a continuing interest in doomed civilizations.