Professor Jonardon Ganeri - Illusions of Immortality

Lecture abstract:

In this talk I will first define and then look at responses to the illusion of immortality in two thinkers widely separated in time and space: the 5th century Sri Lankan Theravāda Buddhist Buddhaghosa, and the 20th century Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. As we will see there are some profound and surprising affinities between these two thinkers, and each can be read in a way that helps to illuminate the thought of the other. Putting these two thinkers into conversation with one another will enable me to explore some of the most fundamental questions about human existence: about the metaphysics of life and death, the phenomenology and moral significance of dying, and the epistemology of absence.

About the speaker:

Jonardon Ganeri (Professor of Philosophy, NYU Abu Dhabi) has research interests in self, attention, consciousness, the epistemology of inquiry, the idea of philosophy as a practice and its relationship with literature, early modernity in South Asia, intellectual affinities between India, Greece and China, and Buddhist philosophy of mind. He advocates an expanded role for cross-cultural methodologies in philosophical research, together with enhanced cultural diversity in the philosophical curriculum. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, recipient of the 2015 Infosys Prize in the Humanities, and named one of India's "50 Open Minds", 2016. His numerous publications include: The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450-1700 (OUP, 2011); Identity as Reasoned Choice (Continuum, 2012); The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance (OUP, 2012); The Concealed Art of The Soul (OUP, 2013); and Attention, Not Self (OUP, 2018).

Thursday 1 November 2018, 6pm – 7.30pm (Tea/Coffee from 5:30pm)
MK045 - George Wallis Building