David Benatar, “The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions”
The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
S. P. Udayakumar, “Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India”
Birgit Krawietz, Georges Tamer, “Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law”
Cristina Rocha, Michelle Barker, “Buddhism in Australia: Traditions in Change”
🔆David Benatar, “The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions”
Are human lives ultimately meaningless? Is our inevitable death bad? Would immortality be better? Should we hasten our deaths by taking our own lives in acts of suicide? Many people ask these big questions and many are plagued by them. Surprisingly few analytic philosophers have spoken to these important questions. When they have engaged the big existential questions they have tended, like more popular writers, to offer comforting, optimistic answers. The Human Predicament offers a less sanguine assessment. David Benatar invites readers to take a clear-eyed view of our situation, defending a substantial, but not unmitigated, pessimism about human life.
Benatar argues that while our lives can have some meaning, cosmically speaking we are ultimately the insignificant beings that we often fear we are. A candid appraisal reveals that the quality of life, although less bad for some people than for others, leaves much to be desired in even the best cases. But death, David Benatar argues, is hardly the solution. Our mortality exacerbates rather than mitigates our cosmic meaninglessness. It can release us from suffering but even when it does it imposes another cost – annihilation. This unfortunate state of affairs has nuanced implications for how we should think about immortality, about suicide, and about the aspects of life in which we can and do find deeper meaning. Engaging profound existential questions with analytic rigor and clarity, The Human Predicament is clear eyed, unsentimental, and deeply provocative to some of our most cherished beliefs.
🔆The Madman’s Middle Way: Reflections on Reality of the Tibetan Monk Gendun Chopel by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
Gendun Chopel is considered the most important Tibetan intellectual of the twentieth century. His life spanned the two defining moments in modern Tibetan history: the entry into Lhasa by British troops in 1904 and by Chinese troops in 1951.
Recognized as an incarnate lama while he was a child, Gendun Chopel excelled in the traditional monastic curriculum and went on to become expert in fields as diverse as philosophy, history, linguistics, geography, and tantric Buddhism. Near the end of his life, before he was persecuted and imprisoned by the government of the young Dalai Lama, he would dictate the Adornment for Nagarjuna’s Thought, a work on Madhyamaka, or “Middle Way,” philosophy. It sparked controversy immediately upon its publication and continues to do so today.
🔆S. P. Udayakumar, “Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India”
The interface of identity construction practices and the role of knowledge of the past in that continual process manifests itself in contemporary Hindu-Muslim relations and political governance. Presenting’ the Past studies the religious, cultural, sociological, and ideological dimensions of the Hindutva historiographical project going back and forth into the realms of history, myth, socialization, and governance. Taking Ram’ and the division of the Indian society into Rambhakts (Ram devotees) and non-Rambhakts as the core, Udayakumar proceeds by reading the closely related set of texts: the Ramayana, Ramarajya (State of Ram) imageries in political discourses, the Babri Masjid/Ramjanmabhumi controversy in Ayhodhya and the Ramraksha governance of the BJP-led government in New Delhi.
With analysis of events dating to the 1920s and the establishment of Muslim separatism and Hindu fundamentalism, extending to the 1990s when the Sangh Parivar’s narrative of national history’ reached its pinnacle with the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the attainment of state power, and terminating in 2004 when the BJP lost power and prominence at the center, this illuminating discourse is readily accessible to students and scholars of contemporary Indian politics and society.
🔆Birgit Krawietz, Georges Tamer, “Islamic Theology, Philosophy and Law”
A unique collection of studies, the present volume sheds new light on central themes of Ibn Taymiyya’s (661/1263-728/1328) and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s (691/1292-751/1350) thought and the relevance of their ideas to diverse Muslim societies. Investigating their positions in Islamic theology, philosophy and law, the contributions discuss a wide range of subjects, e.g. law and order; the divine compulsion of human beings; the eternity of eschatological punishment; the treatment of Sufi terminology; and the proper Islamic attitude towards Christianity. Notably, a section of the book is dedicated to analyzing Ibn Taymiyya’s struggle for and against reason as well as his image as a philosopher in contemporary Islamic thought. Several articles present the influential legacy of both thinkers in shaping an Islamic discourse facing the challenges of modernity. This volume will be especially useful for students and scholars of Islamic studies, philosophy, sociology, theology, and history of ideas.
🔆Cristina Rocha, Michelle Barker, “Buddhism in Australia: Traditions in Change”
The number of Buddhists in Australia has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2006, Buddhists accounted for 2.1 per cent of Australia’s population, almost doubling the 1996 figures, and making it the fastest growing religion in the country. This book analyses the arrival and localisation of Buddhism in Australia in the context of the globalisation of Buddhism.
Australia’s close geographical proximity to Asia has encouraged an intense flow of people, ideas, practices and commodities from its neighbouring countries, while at the same time allowing the development of the religion to be somewhat different to its growth in other Western countries. The book seeks to explore the Buddhist experience in Australia, looking at the similarities and particularities of this experience in relation to other Western countries.
The inception of Buddhism in Australia is investigated, and a voice is provided to people on the ground who have been fundamental in making this process possible. For the first time, academic analysis and practitioners’ experience are juxtaposed to show the adaptations and challenges of Buddhism in Australia from above and below. This book is a unique and valuable contribution to the study of Buddhism in the West, globalization of religion, and studies in Asian Religion.