The traditional grass-roots rural communities such as Bishnois, Bhils, and Swadhyaya continue to live the dharmic way of life in the sense that for them their traditions are part of their daily way of life and thus there is no such thing as “religion” in their lives as there is no separation of sacred from profane. Therefore, there is no such thing as environmentalism distinct and separate in their lives. Their environmentalism reflects in their dharmic practices even though they may not be conscious about it. If Bishnois are saving animals and trees from invaders, they are simply living their traditions, not “protecting the environment” per se. If Swadhyayis are building Vṛkśamandiras (tree temples) and Nirmal Nīrs (water harvesting sites), they are simply expressing their devotion and reverence for all creation according to the teachings of Gitā, not “restoring the environment”. If Bhils continue to practice their rituals in their Sacred Groves, it is their ancient tradition, not “saving the bio-diversity”. The traditional, comparatively much less modernized, groups do not see religion, ecology, and ethics as separate entities. In line with the etymological definition of dharma, their duty, virtue, cosmic ecological order, and spiritual aspects of their lives are all intertwined just as dharma in its various definitions and meanings includes duty, virtue, cosmic ecological order and spiritual aspects of lives.
Audio of talk: Pankaj Jain 1-8-2019
Presentation: Environmental History of Dharmic Communities
The concept “death” makes the absent present, paradoxically inviting us to confront what is un-confrontable. No one can die for us. Yet we can also never survive, and thus be present for, our own death. When our death has arrived, we have departed. Instead, we confront the inevitability of our approaching death and grapple with the events of the deaths of those around us. Public intellectual Cornel West has argued that philosophy as a pursuit is only possible when our infinite desire confronts the reality of its finitude in death. We will explore a number of ways in which philosophizing has emerged from and responded to death. We will consider various definitions of death, the role of fear in dying, and whether death is a primarily individual or social phenomenon. This presentation will consist primarily in the group discussion of a selection of quotes from philosophers of death across the history of philosophy.
Audio of talk Katherine Davies 1-22-2019:
Presentation: Confronting Death
How does one find truth? How does one understand the world? This lecture addresses the philosophy of history, exploring how evidence is gathered, analyzed, and ultimately presented to the public.
A historian's job is to look through evidence that explores events that eventually, when written down, tell a story of what happened in the past. How one understands what he is learning makes all the difference in exploring a subject matter.
Exploring how one gains information, organizes it and then presents it to the public. The modus operandi of using oral history and combining it with primary research in the archives.
To what extent do we freely make choices in life? Or, to what extent are our choices pre-determined by our DNA, our past, our environment, or by fate itself? This philosophical debate on free will/determinism has puzzled mankind since the ancient Greeks, but new scientific evidence about the workings of the human mind may offer is new insights.
The Universe is a dangerous and violent place. We are in the path of asteroids, comets and random space bodies. We can be wiped out in a second by a solar flare or absorbed by a black hole or vaporized by a quasar. The threats from the surface of the planet are no less menacing than space. We have rogue nations with nuclear weapons, terrorists searching the world for loose nuclear arms or biological weapons and the near future risk of uncontrollable AI. Your body can also turn against you through diseases, viruses, or bacteria. The human body is a weak and fragile vessel. Just surviving the first trimester in the womb is a major milestone. Our existence as able physical and mental bodies is a miracle of biology. The complexity of the human creature and its development stage are a marvel of improbability. Our existence in this corner of the cosmos, living and striving is an amazing feat of reality. Enjoy every day for you are the winner of the lottery many times over. So many things must have gone right for you and everything around you to be.
Few topics are as important to the future of our civilization as energy. Just consider, for example, questions about climate change and environmental sustainability and questions about development and security...and how energy cuts across all these issues and more. Discussions about energy are dominated by science, technology, engineering, and business. The humanities are hardly anywhere to be found. Indeed, the philosophy of energy doesn't really exist as a field. A google search for "philosophy of energy" turns up only 1,240 hits. By comparison "philosophy of technology" turns up nearly 15 million and "philosophy of science" turns up 182 million. This is unfortunate, because philosophical questions of ethics and values are unavoidably tangled up with all the technical dimensions of energy. So, what would a philosophy of energy look like and what good could it do in the world? In this talk, I'll lay out some ideas for thinking philosophically about energy.