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"Cognitive Illusion and Immediate Experience: Perspectives from Buddhist Philosophy?" A talk by Jay L. Garfield

Friday, April 30, 2021 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event

Please join us for an invited talk by Prof. Jay Garfield, generously co-sponsored by the Departments of Asian Studies, History and Philosophy; the South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Religious Studies Programs; and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The event is open to all interested, and special accommodations can be made for access upon request.

In this talk, Prof. Garfield will explore Buddhist accounts of the illusion that our access to our own experience is immediate and largely veridical; that we have direct first-person access to our own minds; and that the duality between subject and object that structures our understanding of our experience is primordial. This is the illusion that we are subjects standing over and against a world who know the external world only through the mediation of our sensory and cognitive faculties, and in virtue of our immediate access to the output of those faculties. We will first consider Madhyamaka arguments for the mediated nature of even first-person knowledge. We then turn to Yogācāra critiques of dualistic understandings of experience and accounts of non-duality. This will set the stage for a consideration of Śāntarakṣita’s synthesis of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra. We will finish our survey of Buddhist responses to cognitive illusion with the a visit to the Zen tradition, which offers a way to understand the world free of the illusions of subjectivity while at the same time recognizing their pervasiveness and inevitability. Prof Garfield's aim is to show that the Buddhist tradition gets this issue roughly right, and that we can learn a great deal about subjectivity through careful attention to the multiple ways in which Buddhist philosophers have considered this issue.

Due to COVID-era regulations, all attendees are required to register for this event here:

Upon registration you should receive an automated email with the Zoom link. If for any reason you do not receive this email, please contact Bruno at

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Philosophy, Asian Studies, History, East Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, South Asia Program


relstcal, asianstudiescal

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Bruno Marshall Shirley

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