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"Beyond the Truth of No Ultimate Truth: Buddhist Dialogue with Western Philosophy and Theology"

Presented by Dr. Joseph S. O'Leary, Irish Roman Catholic theologian whose work places classic questions of Christian self-understanding in dialogue with literature and philosophy.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 @ 5PM
Humanities Gateway 1010

"Beyond the Truth of No Ultimate Truth:
Buddhist Dialogue with Western Philosophy and Theology"

by
Dr. Joseph S. O’Leary


Buddhist thinkers have long assessed religious discourse as merely the means to an end, disposable once the end has been achieved. As the end is liberation from all attachment, so one must not be attached even to the views that have led to liberation, necessary as they were in their moment. This line of reasoning resonates strongly with certain conventionalist traditions in Western anthropology of religion (Clifford Geertz and others) as well as in Western philosophy (Ludwig Wittgenstein and others), perhaps especially Western philosophy of science (Paul Feyerabend and others). But when scientific or religious discourses are recognized to be webs of convention, they paradoxically serve all the more effectively to convey scientific or religious truth. Truth can only be conveyed conventionally, yet it does not thereby evaporate. This resistance of truth can be connected with the Buddhist notion of ultimate truth, correcting the slogan that “The ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate truth.”

Dr. Joseph S. O’Leary, an Irish Roman Catholic theologian, has lived in Japan for the past thirty years. His work places classic questions of Christian self-understanding in dialogue with modernist literature, 20th century European philosophy, and the philosophical tradition of Indian Mahayana Buddhism.