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UT Humanities Center Ninth Annual Distinguished Lecture Series – John Dunne

Reflexivity and Conscious Experience in Buddhist Thought 

In what sense do we have “self-knowledge?” At times, it may seem that we know ourselves as something like a character within a story. In such cases, we seem to see ourselves objectively, from the outside. Buddhist epistemologists, however, maintain that there is another form of “self-knowing” that is inherent to the very structure of experience itself. This “reflexivity” is innate and relates closely to our ability to be aware of the larger context and emotional framework that informs experience. This talk explores the notion of reflexivity in the works of Buddhist epistemologists such as Dharmakīrti and examines its relevance to understanding conscious experience.

John Dunne holds the Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Humanities at the Center for Healthy Minds and is also chair of the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work focuses on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, especially in dialogue with cognitive science and psychology. He is the author of numerous articles and the co-author of Ecology, Ethics and Interdependence: The Dalai Lama In Conversation with Leading Thinkers on Climate Change (2018) and In Vimalakīrti’s House: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert A. F. Thurman on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday (2015) and editor of Studies in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (2004). He has taught for Buddhist communities, including the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, is a Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, and served as academic advisor for the Ranjung Yeshe Institute.

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Monday, February 15 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm

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Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


General Public, Current Students, Faculty & Staff


Classics, English, History, Humanities Center, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures (MFLL), Philosophy, Religious Studies


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Joan Murray

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