The Cartesian Self and Buddhist Alternatives


Descartes provides a classic example of a individual, substantialist conception of the self, and Buddhists deny precisely such a view.  Consequently, they present intriguing alternatives for students. Theravada Buddhist argue that there is no self, but that it is conventionally useful to talk as if there are selves.  Mahayana Buddhists frequently argue that there is no completely individual self, but there is a transpersonal self that we are all manifestations of.

Precolumbian Maya Philosophy


The philosophical thought of the Maya people of Central America in the period before Spanish contact in the 16th century is extremely rich.  With advances in the last 50 years in decipherment of the Classic Maya glyphs, it has become possible to reconstruct early Maya history, literature, and philosophy.  In addition to the glyphic texts of the codices and numerous stelae, carvings, and painted texts throughout the Maya region, Postcontact texts such as the Popol Vuh are important sources for Precolumbian Maya philosophy.  Because of the relative dearth of sp

Mary Shepard's Criticism of Berkeley

Primary Texts:

Ed. Atherton, Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett 1994. ISBN: 0872202593 (p. 147-159)

Suggested Courses:

History of Modern Philosophy


Shepherd argues against Berkeley that our ideas of sensible things are “algebraic signs” giving evidence to their causes (matter).

Discussion Questions (with answers):

1. Shepherd claims that Berkeley’s definition of sensible things (like an apple) is missing a component (150). What is that component?

Teaching Brahman


This activity helps students think more deeply about the important Upanishadic claim "Atman is Brahman."

Background Information


"Atman is Brahman" is likely the most central and most difficult claim in the Upanishads. This activity helps students think more deeply about it.

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