“Agents of Unending Change: A Buddhist Approach to Identity” ( Jonathan C. Gold, Princeton ) Event Logo

“Agents of Unending Change: A Buddhist Approach to Identity” (Jonathan C. Gold, Princeton)

by Society for Buddhist Studies

Open Lecture/Webinar

Fri, Nov 13, 2020

4 PM – 5 PM EST (GMT-5)

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Online Event




Please join us for a virtual talk by Jonathan C. Gold, Associate Professor of Religion at Princeton University.

Buddhist thought provides a meta-identity theory. Doctrines such as dependent origination, emptiness, and karma can be used to theorize the ethics of adopting and ascribing socio-cultural identities. Professor Gold will argue in defense of a cultural reading of the doctrine of karma, and a karmic reading of culture. The cumulative, recursive, identity-forming nature of karmic causality under this view helps us discern otherwise occluded ethical implications of our actions. While we ordinarily think of ourselves as individual “agents,” a karmic perspective helps to enliven the idea of an “agent” as someone who “acts on behalf of” someone or something. It shows how, in all of our thoughts and actions, we are working on behalf of cultural forces that we often fail to see or understand. This provides a moral motivation for critical historical/cultural studies, which entails the exploration of the total assemblage of our karmic affordances and potentials, our “storehouse” (ālaya) of identities.

This event is funded by the GPSA and generously co-sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of Religious Studies, the South Asia Program and the Southeast Asia Program. All are welcome to attend, and a Zoom link will be available upon registering.

Please contact Bruno at bms297@cornell.edu for any special arrangements you may require in order to attend this event.

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