Oberlin College and Conservatory

Mead-Swing Lecture: Jay Garfield ’75

Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:30pm

Norman C. Craig Lecture Hall, Science Center
119 Woodland Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

‘‘Buddhist Contributions to Contemporary Moral Reflection:  Selflessness and Moral Responsiveness,’’ is a Mead-Swing Lecture presented by Jay Garfield ’75, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Buddhist Studies, Smith College.

‘‘With few exceptions, Western moral philosophers focus on what we might call the 'output side' of ethics. That is, they focus on the principles or motives that guide action. Buddhist philosophers focus on what we might call the 'input side' of ethics. They are concerned not so much with what we do, but with how we experience ourselves and others, pursuing ethics as moral phenomenology.

‘‘This approach encourages us to think that ethical cultivation begins with the cultivation of perceptual skills, not with the adoption of principles or of habits. Western ethical thought is generally grounded in the view that we are relatively autonomous moral agents. Buddhist reject the idea that we are autonomous, or that we are agents in the sense assumed by most Western theorists.

‘‘I will focus on what Buddhist moral reflection can contribute to ethical thought.’’

Garfield is also visiting professor of Buddhist Philosophy, Harvard Divinity School; Professor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne; and adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.

Event Type



Academic, East Asian Studies, Philosophy, Religion


Free and Open to the Public

Photo Alternate Text

Jay Garfield, gray bearded man with black beret

Contact Person

Martin Thomson-Jones

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