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Comparison Project to discuss Buddhist philosophy of language on Oct. 3

Amy Donahue

The Comparison Project, the organization that brought the Tibetan Buddhist Monks to Drake’s campus earlier this month, will continue with their fall programming on Thursday, Oct. 3 with a lecture titled, “Ineffabilities and Conventional Truth in Jñānaśrimitra’s Buddhist Philosophy of Language.” Amy Donahue, assistant professor of philosophy at Kennesaw State University, will deliver the lecture beginning at 7 p.m. in the Cowles Library Reading Room at Drake University. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Donahue will discuss how Buddhist “no self” teachings wended rather quickly in South Asia, first, into phenomenological nominalism and skepticism about language, and, second, into recognition that speech must, in at least some cases, be fruitful. Buddhist “apoha” theorists such as Jñānaśrimitra work to accommodate these competing drives by reducing word meanings to practices of “exclusion of the other” (anyāpoha), and by appealing to notions of “conventional truth” (samvṛtisatya). Donahue will examine the meaningfulness of modern social identity expressions such as caste, gender, and conventional society to consider how fruitful these efforts are.

Donahue is a scholar in the fields of Indian philosophy, feminist and gender theory, and philosophy of language. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2011. She is currently working on research projects that explore intersections of postcolonial theory and comparative philosophy.

The Comparison Project is an experimental effort in a philosophy of religion that is historically grounded and religiously diverse. It is generously supported by the Drake University Humanities Center, Humanities Iowa, the Medbury Fund, the Drake University Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship, the Des Moines Area Religious Council, and Cultivating Compassion: The Richard Deming Foundation.

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