PHIL 336 – Philosophy: East and West


Eastern and Western thinkers grapple with many of same questions of longstanding philosophical interest. This subject brings these great traditions into direct dialogue, in an exercise of cross-cultural philosophy. It engages with ideas in Eastern traditions, especially Buddhism, and puts them into conversation with Western philosophical perspectives. Topics may include: the nature of reality, consciousness, the self, suffering and happiness, the scope of knowledge, ethics and the ultimate goal of human existence.

It is an unfortunate fact that “most contemporary Western philosophers, through no fault of their own, have been educated in so parochial a fashion that they cannot even imagine an alternative for their own philosophical practice” (Garfield 2015, p. 6).  Using Buddhism as a case study, this subject will takes steps to correct this situation. It will use Engaging Buddhism (Garfield, 2015, OUP) as a main text to investigate how a “particular non-Western tradition can enable one to think through philosophical problems with which one is already preoccupied, or to see how non-Western voices can participate in current discussions.”


Topics include:

  • Why World Philosophy?
  • What is Buddhist Philosophy?
  • The Metaphysical Perspective I: Interdependence and Impermanence
  • The Metaphysical Perspective II: Emptiness
  • The Self
  • Consciousness
  • Phenomenology
  • Epistemology
  • Logic and the Philosophy of Language
  • Ethics
  • Skills and Expertise – East and West


Key readings:

  • The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy. 2011. Jay L. Garfield and William Edelglass (eds). Oxford University Press.
  • World Philosophies:  A Historical Introduction. 2nd Edition. 2002. David E. Cooper. Blackwell.
  • Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy. 2014. Evan Thompson. Columbia University Press.








Philosophy: East and West is taught by Prof. Dan Hutto, Professor of Philosophical Psychology. Prof. Hutto has published over 100 articles and regularly speaks at conferences and expert meetings – over 160 since 1998 – delivering keynotes, plenary lectures or presentations not only to other philosophers but also to anthropologists, clinical psychiatrists, educationalists, narratologists, neuroscientists and psychologists. Some of his recent books, include: Wittgenstein and the End of Philosophy (Palgrave, 2006), Folk Psychological Narratives (MIT, 2008). He is co-author, with Erik Myin, of the award-winning Radicalizing Enactivism (MIT, 2013) and also Evolving Enactivism (forthcoming in 2017). He is the editor of Narrative and Understanding Persons (CUP, 2007) and Narrative and Folk Psychology (Imprint Academic, 2009). A special yearbook, Radical Enactivism, focusing on his philosophy of intentionality, phenomenology and narrative, was published in 2006.