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September 20, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 3

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Lecture tackles faith, philosophy

Despite the diversity of the U.S., its citizens are still sometimes unknowing of the impact and culture of nonwestern society, especially religion. This topic was discussed in great detail at "The Limits of the Open Mind" lecture on Sept. 16.
The lecture featured two speakers: Assistant Professor of Religion Matthew Duperon and his guest, William Edelglass.
Duperon began the evening with discussion of Confucianism and how easy yet difficult it was to consider Confucianism a religion.
"On the pro side," Duperon said, "it is a philosophical touchstone. For the cons, it includes no gods, no priests, no temples of worship...even its own followers don't consider it a religion."
He also went into detail of the stated objectives that make up a religion: religious leaders and faithful communities. Religious groups are identified by organization, meaning the church and practitioners such as priests and bishops, as well as communities as a whole that practice the faith.
Duperon said that the beliefs of Confucianism make it hard to pinpoint any specific leaders. "Either they're a forest-dwelling monk who refuses to talk about it, or they are hand-picked by the Chinese government," he said. The reason that leaders being hand-picked is a problem is because the fact that they are picked doesn't necessarily mean they are passionate about that position.
The lecture then turned over to Edelglass, who spoke mainly about Buddhism. He said that Buddhism involves a great deal of philosophy, as it is the center of many Buddhist prospects.
"Philosophy is necessary to achieve enlightenment," Edelglass said. "Think about what you're knowing. How do we articulate this knowledge?"
Both Edelglass and Duperson agreed that there are three very widely-known arguments about nonwestern religion; not just Buddhism itself. Nonwestern religion tends to lack arguments (ironically, this is an argument) whereas there's always some discrepancy in Christian belief. Nonwestern thought is mystical compared to western, and much philosophy simply comes off as redundant in the west.
"There's no such thing as a self-aware cognitive state," Edelglass said. "It is possible to be aware without an object, and it must be assumed that awareness is self-presented."
According to Edelglass, arguments within Buddhism, or nonwestern religion in general, are not convicted to just philosophy. He also acknowledges that it is worth reminding oneself that the taste of nonwestern knowledge is a good one.

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