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Podcasts of the Lecture Series "Global Philosophies"

Mar 15, 2012

The lecture series "Global Philosophies? Reflections and Challenges between Asia and Europe" can be watched online now. The lecture series was organised by Prof. Birgit Kellner (Chair of Buddhist Studies) during the winter term 2011/12. 

Lecture by Ori Sela (20th October 2011)

In his talk "How did Philosophy become Chinese?, The Travels of a Category of Knowledge from Europe to Asia”, Dr. Sela discussed the continuous transformations the category "philosophy" had undergone in the early-modern and modern West so as to understand which "philosophy" arrived in Asia and what kind of baggage it carried. He further explored how philosophy acquired a prominent place, at first in the West, then in Japan, and later in China. He explained the reasons for philosophy’s ascendancy in Japan and China, particularly from 1870 until 1930, and the historical circumstances that induced scholars to use this category in describing the Chinese and Japanese past. Lastly, he considered the historiographical consequences of philosophy’s grand entrance to Asia. Dr. Ori Sela is Lecturer of the East Asian Studies Department at Tel Aviv University, Israel. Having completed his PhD at Princeton University, he is specialized in the topic "Knowledge, Identity, and Reception History in China" between 1750 and 1930. (CV, Abstract)  

Lecture by Jens Halfwassen (17th November 2011)

Under the title "Das Absolute als Negativität und/oder als Geist - westliche und buddhistische Perspektiven (Neuplatonismus, Nāgārjuna, Yogācāra)", Prof. Halfwassen explored the remarkable parallels and intriguing contrasts between Neoplatonism in Europe and Buddhist philosophical currents in ancient India. Among others, he argued that the intellectual development of Platonism and those of Buddhism are similar if one focuses on the concept of the absolute. Prof. Dr. Jens Halfwassen is Director of the Philosophical Institute at Heidelberg University. With his numerous publications on Plato and Neoplatonism as well as on Metaphysics, he is known even beyond his discipline. (CV, Abstract)

Lecture by John Taber (1st December 2011)

In his lecture "How Should We Read Indian Philosophical Texts?", Prof. Taber discussed why scholars of Indian philosophy in English-speaking countries tend to be more open to engaging philosophically with Indian philosophical texts, while (continental) European scholars remain committed to a historical-philological approach. He provided an answer to this question, while at the same time he considered some of the advantages of adopting a philosophical approach. Among others, he argued that a philosophical approach may not only assist the historical-philological method in certain ways; it may also reveal aspects of the texts that are not accessible by the latter method at all. John Taber is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico, USA. His research interests include the history of Indian philosophy, especially the Brahmanical and Buddhist traditions, and the history of Indian logic more generally. (CV, Abstract

Lecture by Akeel Bilgrami (15th December 2011)

In his lecture titled "Gandhi and the Philosophical Roots of Violence", Prof. Bilgrami discussed the philosophical aspects of nonviolence in a radically different historical constellation – that is, in its modern appropriation by Gandhi. In particular, he expounded why Gandhi thought of violence in much more than physical terms and presented Gandhi's genealogical and philosophical account of its basis. Gandhi, the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement, was a pioneer of satyagraha, or resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience — a philosophy firmly founded upon ahimsa, or total nonviolence. Prof. Akeel Bilgrami is Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, New York City, USA. His two relatively independent sets of intellectual interests are the Philosophy of Mind and Language, and especially Political Philosophy and Moral Psychology as they surface in politics, history, and culture. (CV)   

Lecture by Parul Dave Mukherji (12th January 2012)

Prof. Mukherji’s lecture "Performative Mimesis: A Contemporary Retake on Indian Aesthetics by N. Pushpamala" was split into two sections. In the first part, she focused on an aspect of traditional Indian aesthetics that has been ignored on the account of the history of colonial modernism. In the second part, she drew attention to a contemporary Indian woman artist, N. Pushpamala, who has used the genre of photo-performance. Prof. Mukherji reflected on her contemporary use of traditional Rasa theory in Indian aesthetics via the notion of a masquerade. Finally, she foregrounded the cultural specificity of Pushpamala's strategies of representation and her postcolonial compulsions to reinterpret the past from contemporary perspective. Prof. Parul Dave Mukherji is Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She is the co-convener of the Forum on Contemporary Theory and co-editor of the Journal of Contemporary Thought. (CV, Abstract)   

Lecture by Edward Slingerland (26th January 2012)

In his lecture titled "Philosophy and Metaphor: The Case of Early China", Prof. Slingerland discussed how Western scholarship on early Chinese thought has been dominated by attitudes toward the role of metaphor in early Chinese thought. He argued that these views of the role of metaphor in early China are mistaken, and have in fact served to distort our view of early Chinese thinkers. Drawing on a large body of empirical work from a variety of fields in the cognitive sciences, he attempted to demonstrate that all human cognition is heavily dependent on imagistic conceptual structures and cross-domain projections. What is unusual about early Chinese thought was the conscious attention that thinkers devoted to developing vivid and consistent sets of interlocking metaphors and metaphorical blends, which makes metaphor and blend analysis a particularly crucial tool when approaching these texts. Edward Gilman Slingerland III. is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. His research specialties and teaching interests include Warring States (5th-3rd c. B.C.E.) Chinese thought, religious studies and cognitive linguistics. (CV, Abstract

The Cluster's lecture series "Global Philosophies? Reflections and Challenges between Asia and Europe" was organised by Prof. Birgit Kellner, Chair of Buddhist Studies.

Prof. Dr. Birgit Kellner holds the Chair of Buddhist Studies at Heidelberg University's Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". Having studied Tibetology and Buddhist Studies in Vienna, Austria, she earned a PhD from the University of Hiroshima, Japan, with a dissertation on the history of Buddhist philosophy in India. In her research, she specializes in the history of religion and philosophy with focus on epistemology, the philosophy of consciousness, and logic in India as well as in Tibet.

Visit the lecture series’ website for further information


  • Key visual created by Franziska Koch

  • Dr. Ori Sela

  • Prof. Jens Halfwassen

  • Prof. John Taber

  • Prof. Akeel Bilgrami

  • Prof. Mukherji

  • Prof. Slingerland