Teaching Philosophy of Religion Series – Ep. 2 Louis Komjathy On Praxis For Teaching Philosophy Of Religion

Nathan Loewen:

Welcome to our podcast series from the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion Project. This project aims to rethink the philosophy of religion from the ground up, with an entirely new set of categories and questions. As you may imagine, this is no small task. The interview series on teaching is created by Nathan Loewen. The interviews are supported by a grant from the Wabash Center. All of the podcasts you find here on the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion are hosted by Study Religion, a production of the Department of Religious studies at the University of Alabama.

Nathan Loewen:

How might philosophy of religion be taught and studied in the 21st century? Lewis Komjathy is a leading independent scholar, educator, and translator. His current work explores cross-cultural practices and perennial questions related to contemplative awareness, embodied aliveness, and beyond states. You can learn more from his website linked in this podcast’s credits. Dr. Komjathy was part of a pilot project teaching philosophy of religion with a global critical approach. The pilot was supported by the Wabash Center with a grant administered by Gereon Kopf at Luther College. We had two conversations on November 17th, 2021. We discussed the question, how might a revised approach to studying Daoism influence teaching the philosophy of religion? Another topic that’s been of interest to you is to rethink Daoist philosophy through more recent European philosophers, such as Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault. Is this something that other Daoist scholars have been doing in your field?

Louis Komjathy:

No. So there’s kind of, I think, complicated intellectual history to this. And I’ll just make it brief, which is I have tended to be on the religious study side of things in the academic study of Daoism. And so a lot of my kind of earlier work was advocating for rethinking the earlier periods as having these religious dimensions. But over the course of these years, and especially with the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion Group, I’ve been kind of engaging more philosophy of religion scholars and thinkers. And so then the kind of, why do I have this question or these issues with the category philosophy has come up.

Louis Komjathy:

And so one of the things I’ve tried to do is not just make an argument for why I think it’s better to think about the Daoist tradition as religious, but also to kind of rethink the category of philosophy in a way that might make space for re-engaging Daoism along these revisionist lines of Hadot and the later Foucault. I’m thinking specifically about the history of sexuality and the kind of techniques of self kind of materials in Foucault. So it’s basically engaging the question of philosophy from a critical perspective with my own critique of it. But then saying, “But there are some resources to reimagine this.” And so the short answer is, as far as I’m aware, I’m the main person trying to bring in people like Hadot and Foucault into the explicit discussion of Daoism, or so called Daoist philosophy.

Nathan Loewen:

Right. And I can here our listeners potentially looking at the Wikipedia page for Foucault and reading the first sentence there, perhaps. But in brief, I know you mentioned two written texts, but is there some sort of perspective with this scholar’s work that you want to bring to bear on the topic of Daoism?

Louis Komjathy:

Hadot and Foucault.

Nathan Loewen:

Maybe let’s just go Foucault first. Who is this person? And in a nutshell, what’s the perspective that is brought?

Louis Komjathy:

Yeah. So, I mean, obviously Michel Foucault is a very complex figure with a lot of different views and a lot of influential studies. So when I’m invoking Foucault here, I’m not just thinking of him in terms of the archeology of knowledge or a kind of deconstructionist approach. I’m thinking about his later work that’s partially influenced actually by Hadot, where he starts to really advocate for thinking about philosophy as focusing on techniques of the self. And the way in which it’s not just about ideas, but it’s about enactment. It’s about embodiment in the world. It’s about the ways in which we transform ourselves, right? That we’re always transforming ourselves in different ways. And so then if we use the framework of techniques of the self, how might that change the way we think about the project of philosophy?

Nathan Loewen:

Right. And one name that people might not know is the other one, Pierre Hadot. What do you mean? Techniques of the self? Practices?

Louis Komjathy:

Right. So Pierre Hadot is also, I mean, more of a historian of philosophy, but I think you can think of him as a philosopher in his own right. But was especially interested in a kind of revisionist engagement with Hellenistic philosophy, thinking about the ways in which there were what he called spiritual exercises. And how, in revisionist reading of the history of philosophy, a lot of the earlier philosophical materials were really about spiritual exercises and practices that were meant to transform character. So it had this kind of root in a kind of transformative practice that would change the way we are in the world. And that, that was really the project of philosophy. The project of philosophy was not simply to transform our consciousnesses or our minds, but to actually lead to a complete reconfiguration of character.

Nathan Loewen:

Now, as far as I know, neither of them were scholars of anything to do with Asia or East Asia or Daoism. Why did you choose these two? And what’s the work that you do in adapting their work into your work?

Louis Komjathy:

Yeah, so absolutely. They’re both clearly on the side of Western, of the Western philosophical tradition or traditions. So one part of this is what I alluded to at the beginning, which is speaking to individuals that self-identify as scholars of Asian philosophy or Chinese philosophy or philosophers of religion. And these kinds of things is then, okay, where are resources in the Western philosophical tradition that would allow us to reimagine so-called Western philosophy, but then also put that in dialogue with the materials or traditions from other cultures, and in this case, Daoism? So one part of it is to say, “Is philosophy really about disembodied ideas? Or is philosophy really just about thinking or thought? Or is it also about a formal practice?” So that’s the kind of Hadot and Foucault insight is we should be looking at the applied, the lived, the enacted, the embodied.

Louis Komjathy:

And then for me to say, “Well, that’s exactly what I see in especially classical Daoism in this case.” So bringing their revisionist engagement with their own traditions into my revisionist engagement with Daoism allows me to open up potential other areas of conversation, especially with people that want to believe that these materials are philosophical. And then to say, “Okay, do you mean philosophical in the way that Hadot means philosophy? Or do you mean philosophy in the way that the later Foucault means? Because then it’s possible that I’m more sympathetic to those interpretations. Or do you mean it more in the sense of disembodied thought that allows us to have nice, comfortable academic positions and not actually think about the way in which this is enacted in the world? Because that’s not classical Daoism.” So part of it is to say, I think the categories of spiritual exercises, techniques of the self, are helpful for actually elucidating some of the Daoist materials, especially the contemplative and the mystical dimensions of the tradition.

Nathan Loewen:

So let’s say I knew nothing of Daoism, and I’d never heard about Hadot or Foucault either, but you wanted me to learn something about philosophy and Daoism in the sense that you’re talking about. What would be an example that you would offer to me and help me learn about?

Louis Komjathy:

Yeah. So I think the first piece is to just give of a kind of simple, distilled version as I just did about Hadot and Foucault. And say, “What are these concepts that they’re putting forward as a revisionist framework to think about philosophy?” So spiritual exercises, techniques of the self, what is that? Well, there’s some kind of transformative practices that’s underneath what we tend to think of as conventional philosophy. Well, when you take that and you start to move through some of the classical Daoist materials, for example, like the [inaudible 00:09:09], the drawings of their other text, too, but those are the ones that are most well known and usually used in academic courses.

Louis Komjathy:

And then you start to comb through those texts looking for what you might call spiritual exercises or techniques of the self. What do you find? And you find a tremendous amount of information. Well, when you then start to think through that material from a more contemplative, lived, applied perspective, what does it tell you? And it tells you that they think that they have a spiritual technology that will transform you. That will lead to a different way of experiencing. That will align you with a sacred reality. That will lead to a completely different way of being in the world.

Nathan Loewen:

So, I mean, it sounds like you could reframe a what you’re talking about not as philosophy of religion, but philosophy of spiritual technology?

Louis Komjathy:

Or philosophy of practice. So I’ve been with other members of the group thinking about this. A philosophy of practice, a practice of philosophy. Is that something we want to imagine? Do we want to imagine philosophy beyond the classroom? And this is where I think it’s radical and maybe it’s radical in the sense of being traditional returning philosophy back to maybe some of its foundational roots in the sense of, well, are we trying to be better human beings? Is there a larger purpose to being human in the world? Are there certain problems that are calling us to change and that maybe philosophy as a set of spiritual exercises and techniques of the self give us materials and resources to work on that in an intentional way, in a transformative way, in a way that might actually lead to a beneficial presence in the world?

Nathan Loewen:

And I have a hunch that that changes what students’ homework assignments might be. I mean, we haven’t talked about the classroom much here, and we’re near the end of our conversation. But as I listen to you, I think that the sorts of homework we might give students as teachers changes substantively when we start thinking about philosophy of practice and the practice of philosophy, especially if we’re trying to rethink something like either religious studies or the philosophy of religion from the ground up. The kinds of questions and categories, but also the kinds of things we do starts to change with the perspective that you’re offering us here.

Louis Komjathy:

Yeah. And you can also, I think, develop a set of exercises that are not explicitly religious, because this is always one issue that we face, that are more about a phenomenological investigation of one’s own experience, one’s own relationships, one’s own way of being in the world that brings greater awareness of that. That then clarifies the student’s values for themselves. Nothing imposed on them, but a kind of inquiry. So this is where it does intersect with that other field that I’m interested in, contemplative studies, which is, here is a contemplative inquiry. We are not trying to make you into something. We’re trying to ask you to simply investigate these questions. And here’s a set of parameters or principles or even exercises that will help you do that.

Nathan Loewen:

To close out our conversation, I’d like to hear from you what you think people who are interested in what we’ve talked about, or even instructors or professors or teachers who are interested in implementing this or considering what kind of possibilities are out there. What sorts of resources would you direct them towards as they might want to develop this kind of approach to teaching and learning?

Louis Komjathy:

Yeah. So in my introducing contemplative studies book, there’s a chapter on contemplative pedagogy, where I try to give a kind of variety of exercises from across disciplines. So not specifically religious studies, but saying, “Here’s a discipline specific set of exercises that you might consider.” Not that you should adopt these, but when you think about your own pedagogy, when you think about what you’re teaching, when you think about why you’re teaching it, when you imagine other possibilities of learning. What exercises might you develop? Or are there exercises that you have an affinity with that’s aligned with your pedagogical goals that you could incorporate into your classes that would deepen students’ learning, but also hopefully their own kind of larger lives?

Louis Komjathy:

So there’s materials in there, there’s some further references. And then I think the other part is really going through this kind of critical inquiry on our own about our classes, right? And about the kinds of classes we teach. The material we’re teaching. And are there certain kinds of exercises that are maybe less conventional types of learning exercises, but that give students another way of approaching the material or thinking about the relevance of that material to their lives?

Nathan Loewen:

Outstanding. Thank you so much. This has been a wonderful conversation. I hope that it’s going to lead to some fruitful inquiries for everyone who listens to it.

Louis Komjathy:

Thank you. And yeah, feel free to contact me if people have questions or comments. So thank you.

Nathan Loewen:

We’ll be sure to put your website in the credits.

Louis Komjathy:


Nathan Loewen:

Thanks for listening. For more information about the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion Project, please visit our website at globalcritical, and that’s all one word, .as.ua.edu. There, you will find our participating scholars, publications, sponsors, projects, and contact information. Study Religion is a production of the department of religious studies at the University of Alabama. For more information about our department, please visit the website at religion.ua.edu. Or you can search for our department on Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Facebook, SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify Podcasts. Thanks, goodbye.

Louis Komjathy:

I was like, “Yeah, that’s right. That’s all right.” I thought you were trying to connect the two. Yeah. This [inaudible 00:15:41] deja vu story of my life.

Teaching Philosophy of Religion Series Ep. 5 Eric Dickman On Pedagogical Structures

Nathan Loewen:

Welcome to our podcast series from the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion project. This project aims to rethink the philosophy of religion from the ground up with an entirely new set of categories and questions. As you may imagine, this is no small task. The interview series on teaching is created by Nathan Loewen. The interviews are supported by a grant from the Wabash Center. All of the podcasts you find here on the Global Critical Philosophy of Religion are hosted by Study Religion, a production of the department of religious studies at the University of Alabama.

Nathan Loewen:

How might philosophy of religion be taught and studied in the 21st century? Nathan Eric Dickman is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of the Ozarks. You can find his CV, publications, and videos at ozarks.academia.edu/nathandickman. Professor Dickman was a part of a pilot project teaching Philosophy of Religion with a global critical approach. The pilot was supported by a Wabash center grant administered by Gereon Kopf of Luther College. Our conversation on November 22nd, 2021, focused on how Professor Dickman structures a cross-cultural introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.

Nathan Loewen:

Well, it’s great to have you here for a conversation of about your teaching practices in the Philosophy of Religion. I mean, what are the challenges of your teaching situation? To my understanding, the University of Ozarks is a small liberal arts college.

Eric Dickman:


Nathan Loewen:

You teach in a department of philosophy and religious studies. So walk us through the nature of that teaching situation.

Eric Dickman:

Yeah. So the program is a philosophy program, but the course Philosophy of Religion is cross listed both for philosophy and for religious studies. And so for me, the issue is trying to create a philosophy of religion class, but at the same time, this may be the only class as a general elective, this may be the only class that a student takes, where they get exposed to religious traditions other than Christianity. So my goal is to find a way to deliver a relatively introductory level course, at the same time as getting them exposed to multiple religious cultures, traditions, and methodologies, and all these sorts of things. So for me, that’s the situation, it’s not a Buddhist philosophy course. It is a Philosophy of Religion, where we can look at religions.

Nathan Loewen:

Wow. So this is like you’ve carved out a really specific niche that you need to fill a whole bunch of things into. Multiple traditions, you’re examining …

Eric Dickman:

Multiple methods.

Nathan Loewen:

Multiple methods. Several different themes so that students can tie in and branch out and potentially have this as their only experience, as you just said. So as you’re doing that, what do you try to build in there? What kinds of things are scaffolded into this tight little space of your course?

Eric Dickman:

Yeah. I want to meet Kevin Schilbrack’s challenge about, or to institutionalize philosophy of religion courses in textbooks, in his criticism of them that they’re narrow intellectualistic and insular. So how can I make sure that my course is broad in the sense of covering multiple religious traditions? Not intellectualistic, that is exploring other dimensions of religious life, that’s not merely belief and doctrine, and then how can I make sure that it’s not insular, that is how can I make sure that it’s insufficient conversation with religious studies and the interdisciplinarity of religious studies. Taking into consideration things like feminism, post-colonialism, these sorts of things. So when I scaffold the course, I want to make sure that there may be some of that in every unit and the lessons themselves can display a systematic organization while at the same time maintaining kind of an open-endedness.

Nathan Loewen:

And so I think with everyone who teaches a global critical philosophy of religion class, you’re again, talking about something that is working really hard to address a series of specific challenges related to critiques of a field. And you also want to engage students, but at the same time, students aren’t unaware. They are critical receptors of our teaching and how they are learning. And so they want to see a path, right? They want to know that they’re going somewhere. They don’t want to be just going all over the place. And you said things like post-colonial and feminist and not intellectualistic, but at the same time academic. So, I mean, how do you thread that needle? What’s the framework that you use?

Eric Dickman:

Yeah. I don’t want them to experience the course as just a survey, and so I want it to make sense to have kind of a spinal cord to it. And the framework that I use is cons analysis of the three ideas of pure reason, or the illusions of dialectical reason. The self, the world, and the divine our God, and I use these to create the units of the course. And it’s not just those three, it’s also the unconditioned itself that refracts into these three components, the unconditioned being this kind of ultimate answer to the question why. Like the toddler that can’t stop asking why? Well, because of this, because of this, at a certain point there’s going to be the ultimate.

Nathan Loewen:

And so, just jump in, for you then if I get this right Philosophy of Religion class does involve asking questions about ultimacy or absolute, and this is part of that framework?

Eric Dickman:

Yeah. I think that that’s part of the framework. Because I mean, even students will come in who are somewhat religious and they’ll appeal to things like, God is beyond human understanding, right? Human limits on their concepts, can’t really grasp God or God’s plan or things like this. So they already have the rhetoric or the jargon of God being beyond human limits, right? And so it’s just saying, well, let’s start there since you’re kind of using that.

Nathan Loewen:

Right. And so I know we’re trying to get to you talking about the parts of your framework, but I’ll just jump in because you said, the students come to class with this already, is there a way that you actually survey and find out what is the prior knowledge or the baggage that they’re coming with? Are there media examples? Do you get them to pull out things from their lives? Then you say, “Well, this is transcendental. This is ultimate. This is theological.” And get them to recognize that this is what’s going on in the kind of language that they’re already using?

Eric Dickman:

I don’t get that explicit in terms of labeling things as transcendental. In fact, throughout the whole class, I might not use the word transcendental at all. I do use the word transcendent or transcendence, but I don’t use the word transcendental because that’s such a complicated term in Kantian philosophy in the first place. But I do a prior knowledge assessment quiz or whatever on the very first day where I just say, “What do you think religion is? What do you think philosophy is? What is the point of doing philosophy about religion? What are we even doing?” To see what some of their assumptions are, and often, they might say confessionally religious things, or they might say-

Nathan Loewen:

Yeah. Okay. And so that gets to it. The framework that we still haven’t gotten to you telling us what it is, but I think folks who have read Immanuel Kant might have an idea.

Eric Dickman:


Nathan Loewen:

But you don’t talk about that thing. So there are the things the students talk about, but then there’s the thing you’re using to organize how you talk to the students about the things they’re talking about or?

Eric Dickman:

Yeah. I don’t think we… at this point, I do not have students read Kant at all in this class. In this class, I don’t think I mention Kant at all or the transcendental dialectic or these three ideas of pure reason, anything like that. It’s definitely for me for organizing the course content where it provides a systematic structure that is simultaneously flexible for any kind of material that I want to bring in.

Nathan Loewen:

With the time that we have left, maybe you could just describe what are the outcomes, what do you see happening with the students? Or in another sense, what are the payoffs to this framework and the contents that you’ve glossed over in our conversation?

Eric Dickman:

Well, for me, I think it’s this open ended. So payoff for instructors versus payoff for students. Pay off for instructors, I think this framework is something that anybody can make use of to maintain like a standardization across Philosophy of Religion specific courses. And like I said, this is not a Buddhist philosophy course, this is a distinctively titled philosophy of religions class. So how do you maintain like a systematic structure that is flexible enough for any instructor to be able to go, “Well, I’m going to use these readings or these movies, or these materials for this unit on the south, in different religious traditions or, or different cultural traditions, or I’m going to use these readings, right?” So any instructor can create their own dynamic class while at the same time, maintaining this consistency of organization. The payoff for the students, I think is, it addresses the criteria that I had to begin with.

Eric Dickman:

Like, how do I make sure that students get exposed to multiple religious traditions instead of maintaining this kind of theistic centered model of philosophy of religion. So I want them to have read and understand [inaudible 00:11:13] to some degree, right? Of course, they’re not going to be experts by the end of the class, but to have some in-depth analysis of it, to think about, what is the nature of the world or the universe in this kind of religious paradigm.

Eric Dickman:

And this is quite different than Camus saying that the world is absurd. And this is quite different than a kind of a Muslim worldview where it’s kind of thinking that it’s the stage for God’s ultimate plan for human connection with God. So being able to see different worldviews like that through kind of this shared topic of, we’re not looking at their beliefs about divine being or whether they exist, we’re not looking at their beliefs about what it means to be their doctrine. What are their rational commitments and things like this. Is it true or false. It’s more like, we’re exploring this to try to understand why they think this way, what use it has and how it relates to their practices.

Nathan Loewen:

Well, thanks so much for talking with us a little bit about your approach to teaching a philosophy of religion class. I think it’s a fascinating approach that as you say, the payoff for other folks will be to look at what you’re doing and see if this is a framework that works for them. Thanks so much. We’ll end.

Eric Dickman:

Thank you for the conversation. I appreciate the time to talk with you.

Nathan Loewen:

Brilliant. All right.

Nathan Loewen:

Thanks for listening. For more information about the global critical philosophy of religion project, please visit our website @globalcritical, and that’s all one word .as.ua.edu. There you’ll find our participating scholars, publications, sponsors, projects, and contact information. Study Religion is a production of the department of religious studies at the University of Alabama. For more information about our department, please visit the website @religion.ua.edu, or you can search for our department on Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Facebook, SoundCloud, Apple podcasts, or Spotify podcasts. Thanks, goodbye.

Topics and Categories for Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion: NEH-supported mini-conference and essay collection

On March 18-20, 2022, nearly two dozen global-critical philosophers of religion will participate in a NEH-supported mini-conference that explores alternative sets of topics, methods, and aims for global-critical philosophy of religion. Presentations will later be developed as essays and collected into a volume to be published with Bloomsbury.

Since at least the European Enlightenment, the core topics of western philosophy of religion have consisted of the nature and existence of God, the problem of evil, and the immortality of the soul. These topics are implicitly taken as natural or rational, even used in some cases as the fundamental categories for global philosophy of religion. Witness, for example, the multi-million-dollar “Global Philosophy of Religion Project” recently funded by the John Templeton Foundation at the University of Birmingham, which deploys the categories of existence and nature of deities, death and immortality, and evil and suffering in the world “to make progress on central issues in the philosophy of religion by incorporating multi-religious perspectives” (https://www.global-philosophy.org/projects). But what if philosophy of religion had begun in some other place or at some other time? Would its core categories of inquiry resemble those of contemporary western philosophy of religion?

This mini-conference and essay collection addresses these questions, exploring what the core topics (as well as the methods and aims) of philosophy of religion might have been (or actually were or are) in socio-historical contexts, religio-philosophical traditions, and methodological-theoretical orientations other than contemporary, western philosophy of religion (especially in its analytic mode). In doing so this volume of essays challenges the implicit claim that the core topics of western philosophy of religion are somehow natural or rational and therefore well-suited for global philosophy of religion. It also provides a wealth of resources for those seeking to develop philosophies of religion with greater degrees of globality and criticality, and it offers inspiration for those seeking to reimagine different fundamental starting points and categories of inquiry for “global-critical philosophy of religion.”

For more information about the conference, especially about attending or participating, please contact Tim Knepper.


Bilimoria, Purushottama. Graduate Theological Union

Detwiler, Fritz. Adrian College

Dickman, Nathan Eric. University of the Ozarks

Dolinsek, Cody. Drake University

Gorisse, Marie-Hélène. University of Birmingham

Hustwit, Jeremy. Methodist University

Kalmanson, Leah. Drake University

Knepper, Timothy. Drake University – project director

Komjathy, Louis. University of San Diego

Kopf, Gereon. Luther College – project co-director

Loewen, Nathan. University of Alabama – project co-director

Moyo, Herbert. University of KwaZulu Natal

Ogunnaike, Ayodeji. Bowdoin College

Ogunnaike, Oludamini. University of Virginia

Park, Jin. American University

Patil, Parimal. Harvard University

Rostalska, Agnieszka. Ghent University

Schilbrack, Kevin. Appalachian State University

Simmons, J. Aaron. Furman University

Singh, Nikky. Colby College

Weed, Laura Weed. The College of Saint Rose

Talking Across the Divide – Discovering our Common Humanity [1]

Gereon Kopf (Luther College, University of Iceland, Tōyō University)

Today,[2] our human community is seemingly irrevocably divided by many religious, ideological, and political boundaries. These boundaries are indicative of identity politics. Even though, most people agree that there a multiplicity of religious, ideological, national, and political identities divisive rhetoric is often framed in the juxtaposition of a self and an other. For example, we are used to divide the world into “East” and “West,” the “North” and the “global South,” “good” and “evil,” dualism and non-dualism, positivism and nihilism. This rhetoric ignores the multiplicity of cultures and succumbs to identity politics. As post-orientalist theorists such as J. J. Clarke point out, this rhetoric creates counterfactual “quasi-entities” and reifies “cultural enclavism”: This rhetoric “constitutes the ‘other,’ that which stands opposite to us as strange and alien, and it is this very otherness, which confirms our own self-image and defines our own self-identity” (Clarke 1994, 14-15). In addition, the boundaries created by this rhetoric obstruct our view onto our common humanity. It is my belief that this rhetoric is based on an exclusive sense of identity. I believe that a sense of identity based on Buddhist philosophy and NISHIDA Kitarō’s (1870-1945) “self-identity of the absolute contradictories” (J.: zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu 絶対矛盾的自己同一) (NKZ 9: 124) can provide an alternative model of intercultural encounters and multiculturalism. In this paper, I will provide such a new vision of a multicultural world and an analysis of why intercultural, interreligious, and inter-ideological encounters often fail.

            The term “self-identity of the absolute contradictories” (J.: zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu 絶対矛盾的自己同一) (NKZ 9: 124) is an abbreviation of a longer phrase used by Nishida in his later career, starting with his 1936 Philosophical Essays Vol. 2 (Tetsugaku ronbunsho dainikan 哲学論文書第二巻) (NKZ 8: 267-590), “self-identity of the absolute contradictories of the many and the one” (J.: ta to ichi to no zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu 多と一との絶対矛盾的自己同一). Ironically but not completely accidentally, Nishida began citing and evoking Buddhist texts in the same volume especially in his essay “Acting Intuition” (“Kōteki chokkan” 行為的直観) (NKZ 8: 541-571). This term, as convoluted as it might be, implies two fundamental critiques of the exclusive and essentialist conception of identity in particular and, as he argues in his “On Self-Awareness” (“Jikaku ni tsuite” 自覚について) (NKZ 10: 477-564), essentialism in general: Nishida proposes that 1) the self is neither monolithic, self-caused, nor permanent and 2) the foundational juxtaposition in metaphysics is not that between self and other but between the universal one and the multiplicity of particulars/individuals (Kopf 2014, 2019). Both insights he inherits, of course, from Buddhist philosophy.

            The deconstruction of the self has been central to Buddhist philosophy from its early inception. In his Buddhist Psychology, Geshe Tashi Tsering brilliantly maps how self-centered consciousness creates the world of experience and, by implication, our worldview. The key to the construction of our world(s) of experience and to Buddhist psychology in toto is the self-centeredness or attachment to the self identified by the Yogācāra philosopher Vasubandhu (~500) alternatingly as “thought consciousness” (S.: manavijñāna) or as “defiled mentation consciousness” (S.: kliṣṭa-mano-vijñāna). This ego-consciousness constructs the world of experience as its object. Tsering outlines how this self-centered consciousness constructs the world of our experience by means of the “three poisons” (C. sandu 三毒), also known as the “three unwholesome roots” (S.: akuśala-mūla-traya), “ignorance” (S.: moha), “attachment” (S.: rāga), and “aversion” (S.: dveṣa). Ignorant of its own “emptiness” (S.: śūnyatā), the self differentiates the world that is experienced as separate from the self into “good” and “evil,” “like” and “dislike” (Tsering 2006, 48-49).

The Buddha did not only advocate the concept of “no-self” (S.: anātman) as a direct negation of the Upaniṣadic conception of an uncaused, eternal “self” (S.: ātman) but equally refused to reject the notion of the self. Asked about his silence in response to the question of whether or not we have a “self,” he famously answered that “if I had said that there is a self, he would have formed the view of the self. If I had said that there is no self, he would fall into ignorance and madness and would be even more confused” (T ). Much later, the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra (C.: Dazhidulun 大智度論) interprets Buddha’s silence as a rejection of all forms of dualism claiming that “the claim ‘the five skandhas are impermanent, empty, and without a self’ means that in the perfected wisdom, the five skandhas are neither permanent nor impermanent, neither empty nor non-empty, neither with a self nor devoid of a self” (T 1509.25.17). Finally, the famous “Ten Ox Pictures” (C. shiniutu 十牛図) also named “Ox Herding Pictures” (C.: muniutu 牧牛図) of Kuoan Shiyuan 廓庵師遠 (12th century) deconstruct the self-centered worldview of everyday ego-consciousness (picture 1) and replaces it with the vision of “buddha nature” (C.: foxing 佛性) or the “buddha-womb” (S. tathāgatgarbha, C.: rulaizang 如來蔵)[3] and intersubjectivity (picture 10), that is the encounter of self and other, master and disciple, buddhas, and ancestors. (Kopf 2021).

            Philosophically, early Mahāyāna philosophy replaced the notion of “self” with that of tathāgatgarbha. The goal of this conceptual move is threefold. First, it replaces the self as the center of our worldview with Buddha. To understand reality, we need to learn to view the world the way the Buddha does. Our self constitutes an obstacle to “seeing things as they are.” As Vasubandhu suggested in his theory of the “three self-natures” (S. tri-svabhāva), the world, which we experience as “object” (S. parikalpita), is constructed “vis-à-vis” the experiencing subject (S. paratantra) and, therefore, its “ultimate nature” (S. pariniṣpanna) is devoid of self-nature. Second, to move beyond the self-centeredness, we have to give up or transform our thetic modality of interaction, which Buddhist texts refer to as “attachment,” desire-to-possess, and “aversion,” desire-to-avoid/reject. Only then, can we embrace Buddha’s perspective. Third, the universally shared oneness cannot be reified as an essence but it is, philosophically speaking, “empty” of self-nature. Following this line of thought, Yin Shun (1906-2005) has claimed that, as Scott Hurley has pointed out in his insightful work, the tathāgatgarbha theory is pivotal for establishing a “humanistic Buddhism” (C. renjian fojiao 人間佛教), that is, a Buddhism beyond all boundaries. Chengguan 澄觀 (738-839) stratified the metaphysical implications of such an “empty tathāgatgarbha” in his “fourfold dharma world” (C. shifajie 四法界), especially the “mutual non-obstruction of the universal and the particular” (C. lishiwuai 理事無礙) and the “mutual non-obstruction among particulars” (C.: shishiwuai 事事無礙).  Finally, Dōgen 道元 (1200-1253) described this relationship of non-obstruction between universal and particular as well as among particulars as “expression” (J.: dōtoku). Identifying the relationship of “[a]ll buddhas and ancestors” with the individual practitioner as “expression” (DZZ 1: 302), Dōgen suggests that “[i]n me, there is expression and non-expression. In him, there is expression and non-expression. At the bottom of the way, there is self and other; at the bottom of the non-way, there is self and other” (DZZ 1: 304). This quote is fascinating in many ways. Here, I would like to focus on Dōgen’s claim that, regardless of and beyond all identity politics, all human beings express the oneness of tathāgatgarbha as well as innumerable other individual experiences or expressions fully but not completely in our actions (Kopf 2014). This seemingly innocuous claim has far reaching implications on how we should treat each other. Not only do we all share and participate in “buddha-nature” we are also equally fallible and need the community, saṃgha, of all human beings to reach our goal expressing “all buddhas and ancestors.”

            This is one Mahāyāna Buddhist interpretation of the deconstruction of the self. I am sure that the majority of the audience/readers are familiar with these basic Buddhist concepts. But how do they help us overcome the numerous boundaries created by identity politics? The various thinkers within the traditions of “humanistic Buddhism” (C.: renjain fojiao, V.: nhan gian phat giao[4]) such as Yin Shun and Thich Nhat Hanh have provided us with many practical guidelines on how to practice wholesome deeds. I cannot add to their insight and wisdom. What I would like to do is to provide an analysis of what prevents us from encountering people across the boundaries and as individual and full but incomplete expressions of tathāgatgarbha just as we are. Inspired by Kuoan Shiyuan’s “Ten Ox Pictures” I have developed  the “Ten Wolf-Encounter Pictures” (十遇狼図), which are accompanied by ten descriptive poems.[5] It is the story of a monkey that grows up in a monkey clan and sees the world through monkey eyes until her/his world is threatened by an ominous encounter with a wolf. I see this fable as an allegory for our human shortcomings but also as an inspiration of how to overcome them.

Picture 1:

猴子嬉树                   monkeys playing in the trees

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猴在树顶                    high up in the trees

相互嬉戲                    the monkeys’ play is unencumbered

全無干擾                    there is no present danger

這是猿界                    it is the monkey world

We grow up in our families as well as in communities, religious and otherwise. In these communities we learn a specific way of looking at the world, which we adopt and internalize. The language, in the literal and the metaphorical sense, that we internalize shapes the way we think and experience the world. This way, we create our “life-world” (G.: Lebenswelt). The more homogenous our community is the more homogenous our Lebenswelt becomes. In any case, our Lebenswelt is monolithic, we take it for granted, we take it to be THE world. MUTAI Risaku 務台理作 (1890-1974) refers to this phenomenon as the “small world” (J.: shōsekai 小世界) (MRC 4:59). This adoption and internalization of the communal worldview and language constitutes the “socialization of the self” (被社會化).

Picture 2:

練習独立                    practicing independence


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从树到树                    From tree to tree

小猴跳跃                    the little monkey jumps

脱离父母                    leaving the parents

練習独立                    practicing independence

No matter how tight a community is, its members will claim some kind of individuality whether it is within one’s place within the community or whether it is vis-à-vis the community. This desire to define oneself constitutes the “search for uniqueness” (尋找自我). But this search is not a one way-street. Feminist as well as Confucian philosophers and thinkers such as Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) or WATSUJI Tetsurō (1889-1960) define even the notion of independent self as relational. We define ourselves in-relationship to others and to a group. When we distinguish ourselves from the community we are socialized in, we paradoxically use their language and adopt their Lebenswelt. E.g., atheists define themselves vis-à-vis theists using a monotheistic framework to define themselves. However, when we try to establish uniqueness, we put our self in the center of this Lebenswelt.

Picture 3:

從樹看狼                    seeing the wolf from the safety of the trees


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身处树上                    the top of the trees

感到安全                    feels peaceful and safe

虽闻狼嚎                    even though wolves howl in the distance

猴是树王                    monkey is the king of the trees

Socialized in one Lebenswelt, we assimilate, to use the language of Jean Piaget (1896-1980), the objects of our experience into this our world. This form of consciousness is called “constructing-the-other-for-oneself” (對自成他). Steeped in our ignorance we mistake our world to be the one true world, we categorize and assess the objects of our experience in relationship to ourselves: the phenomena we like, we are attached to, the phenomena we dislike, we develop an aversion to. Buddhist philosophy is especially helpful to understand this experience. Following Tsering’s map of human emotions, our treatment of the objects of aversion is characterized by “jealousy,” “cruelty,” and “resentment” (Tsering 2006, 49).

Picture 4:

猴遇見狼                    monkey encounters a wolf

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为探新界                    to explore new worlds

猴子离树                    monkey leaves the trees

忽然之间                    when, all of a sudden,

猴遇見狼                    a wolf shows up

Our self-centered world is shattered when we realize that the other does not necessarily follow the rules of our world. This awareness is triggered by “the encounter with an independent other”  (自偶遇他). It faces us with alternative “life worlds” (G.: Lebenswelten), with new ways of looking at the world. Consequently, our world and its center our self, is shattered. This brings about an existential crisis: Are the beliefs, ontological, epistemic, and moral, that I followed my whole life wrong? How do I deal with the existence of other beliefs. Interreligious but also intercultural encounters can prompt such an existential crisis and uncertainty.

Picture 5:

狼狩獵猴                    wolf chases the monkey

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凶残狠狼                    the ferocious wolf

追杀小猴                    chases the monkey

猴试逃脱                    who escapes into the trees

谁又称王                    who is the king now?

When we encounter an independent other, we are faced with three options: 1) withdraw into our own world and pretend the outside does not exist, 2) adopt the worldview of the other, or 3) accept the ambiguity that both might be right and both might be false. Besides uncertainty, such an encounter of the other also creates fear. Not only is our word view challenged, all of a sudden, we are overwhelmed by otherness. This is called “knowing-the-other-forgetting-the-self” (知他忘自). We freeze and, like under Jean Paul Sartre’s (1905-1980) gaze, we lose our agency and become the object of the other.

Picture 6:

舉案齊眉                    mutual respect

休戰達成                    a truce is reached

各有領域                    each has their territory

狼统地面                    wolf roams the land

猴统树林                    monkey rules the trees

In such an encounter, we can also experience mutual respect. What looks like a “truce between self and other” (自他停戰) also implies that we appreciate the accomplishments of the other. A lot of theories of interreligious dialogue are based on this principle. The participants are willing to learn about each other yet stand firm in their beliefs. Similarly, Stephen Gould characterizes the relationship between science and religions as “non-overlapping magisteria” implying science deals with the workings of nature, religion with the meaning of life and moral theory (Gould 1997). Such an approach divides our Lebenswelt into two unconnected and irreconcilable realms and thus implies or even endorses dualism.

Picture 7:

營救狼崽                    rescuing the wolf cub

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然有一天                    then, one day,

河变洪流                    the river becomes a torrent

猴来營救                    monkey comes to the rescue

共同强大                    together they are stronger

The deadlock between self and other can be overcome by the “presence of a third” (Kopf 2018). The third, in this case a child, as Mengzi proposed with his allegory of the child in the well (Mengzi 2a, 6)­­, makes us “realize an underlying commonality” (找同存異)  and awakens our compassion. We realize that we are not only different but also similar, as they are similarities and differences between us the member of our community.

Picture 8:

一起旅行                    travelling together

共同合作                    they now work together
互相学習                    and learn from each other
拜访狼家                    visiting the home of the wolf
猴明狼世                    monkey understands the wolf’s world

As important as the insight into the underlying commonality is, it must be cultivated. E.g., the Chan and Seon masters Guifeng Zongmi 圭峰宗密 (780-841) and Jinul 普照知訥 (1158-1210) emphasized the importance of “sudden enlightenment followed by gradual cultivation” (Gregory 1987, 280). A self-cultivation practice that transforms the thetic modality of attachment/aversion and dissolves the boundaries between self and other is the practice of pilgrimage conceived of as “putting oneself in the shoes of the other” (换位思考). Such a practice transforms our attachment and aversion and creates an athetic modality by means of “attunement” (Nagatomo 1992) to the other and the third. The Buddhist scriptures call this athetic modality “mutual feeling response” (C.: ganying daojiao 感應道交) (T 1911.46.004). The importance of this attunement to others is one reason why Buddhist texts emphasize the saṃgha. In a political context, Trinh Minh Ha calls this practice “walking with the disappeared” (2018).

Picture 9:

看水見狼                    looking in the water – seeing the wolf

返回家後                    upon returning home

猴飲甘泉                    monkey drinks from the spring

猴望水时                    in the water, however,

狼脸映出                    wolf’s face is reflected

This practice transforms the self. The result is neither a “self” nor a “no-self,” but a self-in-relationship. Nishida explains: “I and Thou are wholly other. There is no universal that contains both I and Thou. The I becomes and I by recognizing the Thou. The Thou become a Thou by recognizing the I. In the depth of the I is the Thou; in the depth of the Thou is the I. The I unites with the Thou in the depth of the I. The Thou unites with the I in the depth of the Thou. Because they become completely other, they unite internally” (NKZ 6: 381). Similarly, Dōgen’s re-reads the famous words attributed to Bodhidharma, “you attained my marrow” (T 2035.49.291), as “you attain me, I attain you” (DZZ 1: 333).The boundaries between self and other are dissolved: what we call “self” constitutes but one expression of the self-other-relationship, what we call “other” also constitutes one such expression. This insight is called “knowing-the-other-understanding-the-self” (知他明自).

Picture 10:

衆生共存                      the co-existence of all beings

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在湖底部                    at the bottom of the lake

無數面現                    numerous beings appear

有帝釋網                    it is Indra’s Net

衆生共存                    the co-existence of all beings

Of course, in the same way as individual is not isolated without context, the relationship between self and other does not exist in a vacuum. Chengguan and Dōgen have convincingly argued that self and other are located in Indra’s net. Furthermore, the boundaries between self and other as well as the walls between communities and species have been broken down and overcome. Self and others meet, human beings and non-human animals mingle. At this point in our journey we realize that all beings, sentient and insentient, “co-exist together and complement each other” (共存互補). The awareness of this larger community, a community that embraces “all beings”[6] including “grass and trees” and “insentient beings,” all of whom  have/are buddha-nature” (T 1853.45.040; T 2223.61.0011) and “become buddhas” (T 1937.46.890; T 2299.70.300), marks the non-thetic modality by means of which we express tathāgatgarbha.

In some sense, these pictures outline a path from self-centeredness to an existential modality of selflessness imagined by the Huayan Buddhist image of Indra’s net. If we recognize that we are all full but incomplete expressions of tathāgatgarbha we will be able to live in a cosmopolitan world (Appiah 2007) and in harmony with particular eco-systems as well as the wider cosmos in toto.  We will be able to cherish the saṃgha of “all beings”­­––sentient beings including human beings and non-human animals, plants, and insentient beings alike––cultivate wholesome deeds, and express tathāgatgarbha. In my incomplete understanding, this is the teaching of the Buddha.

Works Cited


DZZ    Dōgen zenji zenshū 『道元禅師全集』[Complete Works of Zen Master Dōgen]. 2 vols. Ed. Dōshū Ōkubo 城大久保道舟. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1969-1970).

MRC   Mutai risaku chosakushū『務台理作著作集』 [Collected Works of Mutai Risaku]. 9 vols. (Tokyo: Kobushi Shobō, 2000–2002).

NKZ    Nishida kitarō zenshū 西田幾多郎全集新版 [Complete Works of Kitarō Nishida]. 20 vols. (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1988).

T          Taishō daizōkyō 『大正大藏經』 [Buddhist Canon – The Taishō Version], ed. by Junjirō Takakusu and Kaigyoku Watanabe (Tokyo: Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō Kankōkai. 1961).

Other works

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. 2007. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York W. W. Norton & Company.

Clarke, J. J. 1993. Jung and the East: a Dialogue with the Orient. New York: Routledge.

Gould, Stephen Jay. 1997. “Non-Overlapping Magisteria.” Natural History Vol. 106, 16-26.

Gregory, Peter N. 1987. Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlightenment in Chinese Thought. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. 1967. Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. New York: Hill and Wang.

Kopf, Gereon. 2014. “Philosophy as Expression: Towards a New Model of Global Philosophy,” Nishida tetsugakkai nenpō (The Annual Review of the Nishida Philosophy Association), Vol. 11, 181-155.

_____. 2018. “Self, selflessness, and the endless search for identity: a meta-psychology of human folly,” Self or No-Self, ed. Ingolf U. Dalfehrt (Tübingen: in Mohr Siebeck, 2018), 239-262.

_____. 2019. “Emptiness, Multiverses, and the Conception of a Multi-Entry Philosophy,” APA Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies Vol. 19, No. 1, 34-36.

_____. 2021. “‘The Self that is not a self’––Ueda and Kuoan’s Ten Ox Pictures,” in Tetsugaku Companion to Ueda Shizuteru. Doerdrecht: Springer International Publishing.

_____. 2022. “The Theory and Practice of the Multi-Entry Approach.” In Philosophy of Religion Around the World: A Critical Approach, edited by Nathan Loewen and Agnieszka Rostalska. London: Bloomsbury Academics.

Nagatomo, Shigenori. 1992. Attunement Through the Body. Albany: SUNY Press.

Tsering, Geshe Tashi. 2006. Buddhist Psychology. Somerville: Wisdom Publications.

Trinh, T. Minh-Ha. 2016. Lovecidal: Walking with the Disappeared. New York: Fordham University Press.

Ziporyn, Brook. 1996. Emptiness and Omnipresence: An Essential Introduction to Tiantai Buddhism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

[1] Paper presented in and published in the proceedings of the 19th International Symposium on the Theory and Practice of the Teachings of Dharma Master Yin Shun in Hsinchu City on 11/06/2021.

[2] I would like to thank the providers of the online resources The SAT Daizōkyō Text Database (http://21dzk.l.utokyo.ac.jp/), the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (http://www.acmuller.net) for their invaluable service.

[3] See Charles Muller’s Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (http://buddhism-dict.net/cgi-bin/xpr-ddb.pl?q=佛性).

[4] Thich Nhat Hanh translated this term into English as “engaged Buddhism” (Hanh 1967, 42).

[5] The idea, story, and poems are mine. The poems were illustrated by Amber Takano. I thank Qianran Yang, Irene Lok, and Ching-yuen Cheung for checking my Chinese. I introduced the pictures and poems in a recent essay titled “The Theory and Practice of the Multi-Entry Approach” (Kopf 2022).

[6] Dōgen re-reads the famous phrase from the Mahāparinirvāṇa sūtra, “all have/are” (C.: xiyou 悉有) (T 374.12.407) as “all beings” (J.: shitsū 悉有) (DZZ 1: 14).

Announcing Cross-Cultural Conceptions of the Self: South Asia, Africa, and East Asia

How might investigating conceptualizations of “self” relative to other religious traditions in Africa, South and East Asia enable cross-cultural philosophical analysis? One way is to make scholarship in this area more visible and accessible. “Cross-Cultural Conceptions of the Self” uses 2022 to plan and host an asynchronous online symposium whose outcomes would be made public on the Global-Critical Philosophy of Religion. With generous support from the University of Birmingham (UK), a group of eleven participants are critically examining how to study “self.” The proposal breaks with the orientalist, epistemic problematics of the “East-West” dichotomy through scholarly conversations on “persistence.” Outcomes will be posted on this website in the form of: a) a directory of researchers from around the world, b) critical terms for the critical study of “self” c) an annotated scholarly conversation, d) a key terms video series, and e) a podcast of culminating reflections.

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, online tools are essential to support new scholarship in philosophy of religion. “Cross-Cultural Conceptions of the Self” shows how this might work in practice. The project website and its online platforms will promote research by early career scholars from underrepresented regions in African traditional religions, Jainism, Shinto and Confucianism. The project’s anticipated impact is to a) increase the profile of younger scholars working in these areas, b) establish conceptual entry-points to their work, c) make their research more publicly-accessible, and d) demonstrate how cross-cultural philosophy of religion may be practiced.

Conducted in English, the project does share the problematic legacy of the field while also working to proactively address issues of regional visibility and philosophy’s orthodoxies concerning the self and immortality. The design of the project introduces the innovative use of online tools to promote scholarly and public conversations on the philosophy of religion. Where budgetary and visa restrictions often prevented ease of travel for these scholars, the global pandemic now presents an additional barrier to entry. “Cross-Cultural Conceptions of the Self” aims to highlight already underway conversations for English-speaking publics and philosophers of religion among them.

This project was made possible through the support of a grant from John Templeton Foundation, awarded via the Global Philosophy of Religion Project (GPRP). The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of John Templeton Foundation or the GPRP.


NATHAN LOEWEN, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Alabama.

AGNIESZKA ROSTALSKA, Research Associate, Department of Languages and Cultures, South Asia Network Ghent (SANGH), Ghent University.

Participating scholars:

East Asian traditions:

YŪKO ISHIHARA, Associate Professor, College of Global Liberal Arts, Ritsumeikan

University. LOUIS KOMJATHY, Ph.D., Independent Scholar-Educator and Translator.

MAKI SATŌ, Project Associate Professor, East Asian Academy (EAA), University of Tokyo.

African traditions:

AYODEJI OGUNNAIKE, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Bowdoin College.

OLUDAMINI OGUNNAIKE,Assistant Professor of African Religions, University of Virginia.

HERBERT MOYO, Associate Professor, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of Kwazulu-Natal.

South Asian traditions:

MARIE-HELENE GORISSE, Guest Professor at Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University.

ANA BAJZELJ, Associate Professor and Shrimad Rajchandra Endowed Chair in Jain Studies, University of California (Riverside).

ANIL MUNDRA, PhD Candidate in Philosophy of Religions program at the University of Chicago Divinity School (expected graduation: 2021).

Maki SATO (佐藤, 麻貴)

Japan has been a place where religious thoughts from the East and West met and flourished in a peculiar style under the notion of Wa (和). Although religious belief, in times, may hinder open and continuous dialogue, there should be ways to overcome differences and seek the universality of the religions that still work as fundamentals to humanity. My interest lies in uncovering the flexibility and inclusiveness that every religion connotes. From Japanese thinkers and philosophers’ text analysis, and through dialogues with the scholars, my challenge is to seek the next level of humanity beyond religious beliefs.

Personal website

Teaching Philosophy of Religion Inclusively to Diverse Students: November Zoom Meeting

The last meeting of a project funded by the Wabash Center , gathered 18 participants from across three continents online for a discussion of strategies and approaches for teaching philosophy of religion inclusively. Gereon Kopf hosted the entire, two-year grant project online using cloud-based file-sharing and videoconferencing.

During the meeting, reports were given on the pilot teaching of 10 classrooms across three terms (Spring , Summer and Fall 2021). As a culminating reflection on the project, Gereon Kopf presented on the psychology of a multilogue for inclusively teaching philosophy of religion. Dr. Kopf’s presentation was the launching point for small groups to formulate final observations on pedagogy.

Teaching Philosophy of Religion Inclusively to Diverse Students: August 2020 Zoom Meeting

Funded by the Wabash Center ,  18 participants from across three continents gathered online for across two days in order to discuss strategies and approaches for teaching philosophy of religion inclusively. Gereon Kopf hosted the entire, two-year grant project online using cloud-based file-sharing and videoconferencing.

The inaugural August session convened the participants to consult on the pilot projects to be launched in their Fall 2020 courses. Two years of pilot projects and discussion created data by which to answer the following questions:

1) How to make students from diverse backgrounds feel represented and at home in an increasingly diverse classroom environment?

2) How can we enable students in these diverse classroom settings to understand the beliefs and ways of thinking of their neighbors beyond the pervasive images and stereotypes characteristic of orientalism?

3) How might we enable faculty to teach global and critical approaches to the philosophy of religion in courses that provide a safe and brave learning environment?

4) How do we implement diversity, equity, and inclusion in our teaching of philosophy of religion?

Teaching Philosophy of Religion Inclusively to Diverse Students: January 2021 Zoom Meeting

Funded by the Wabash Center ,  18 participants from across three continents gathered online for across two days in order to discuss strategies and approaches for teaching philosophy of religion inclusively.

1) How to make students from diverse backgrounds feel represented and at home in an increasingly diverse classroom environment?

2) How can we enable students in these diverse classroom settings to understand the beliefs and ways of thinking of their neighbors beyond the pervasive images and stereotypes characteristic of orientalism?

3) How might we enable faculty to teach global and critical approaches to the philosophy of religion in courses that provide a safe and brave learning environment?

4) How do we implement diversity, equity, and inclusion in our teaching of philosophy of religion?

The sessions were based on two sets of interviews. In one, Tim Knepper discussed the outcomes of selected participants’ teaching experiences from Fall 2020 (Nathan Eric Dickman, Ayodeji Ogunnaike, and Parimal G. Patil). The other interviews discussed specific aspects of teaching inclusively with experts from the field. Gereon Kopf interviewed Louis Komjathy and Agnieszka Rostalska. Nathan Loewen interviewed Kevin Schilbrack and Ayodeji Ogunnaike.