Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose: Freedom, Agency And Morality For Mādhyamikas

Jay Garfield, President's Speaker Series


Do we have free will, or are our actions all determined by causes? This seems to be an obvious question to ask, and for centuries Western philosophers and those influenced by them have asked it. But this question is far from universal. In the Buddhist traditions rooted in India, for instance, it does not even arise. So maybe better questions to ask are, “Does the question about the freedom of the will even make sense? What do you need to presuppose in order to ask it?” We will explore these questions, and think about how to understand human agency without worrying about freedom and determinism, using the Buddhist tradition as a touchstone.


Jay L Garfield is Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple Professor of Humanities and Head of Studies in Philosophy at Yale-NUS College, Professor of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore, Recurrent Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy at Smith College, Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies. He earned his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Garfield teaches and pursues research in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics and epistemology.

Professor Garfield’s most recent books are Western Idealism and its Critics (2011), Sweet Reason: A Field Guide to Modern Logic (2011) Indian Philosophy in English from Renaissance to Independence (with Nalini Bhushan, 2011), Contrary Thinking: Selected Essays of Daya Krishna (with Nalini Bhushan and Daniel Raveh, 2011), Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (with the Cowherds, 2010), and The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy (with William Edelgass, 2010). He is currently working on five other books, as well as a collaborative project on Dignāga’s Alaṃbanāparikṣā and its commentaries.

Event Timeline
Wed Apr 2, 2014
6:30 PM - 7:45 PM SGT
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University Town Auditorium 3, College of Alice & Peter Tan
Yale-NUS College

On sale until Apr 2, 2014, 4:30:00 PM

Venue Address
College of Alice & Peter Tan, 8 College Avenue East, Basement 1, Singapore 138615 Singapore
Yale-NUS College