Peter Hershock, "Choice or Virtuosity: Buddhist Reflection on the Meaning of Freedom"

March 31, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014 - 3:30pm
110 Orton Hall

"Choice or Virtuosity: Buddhist Reflection on the Meaning of Freedom"

Freedom is among our most cherished contemporary values. And, if freedom is fundamentally a matter of individual freedoms-of-choice, the present moment is arguably the freest in human history. Yet alongside expanding freedoms of choice we are also experiencing globally widening gaps of income, wealth, risk and opportunity. One possibility is that this coincidence of expanding freedoms-of-choice and deepening inequality is an historical accident or a developmental necessity—views common among those in the so-called global North and West. Another possibility, however, is that this coincidence is evidence of increasingly acute needs to rethink the means-to and the meanings-of freedom and its relationship to global justice and equity. This talk will make use of Buddhist conceptual resources to explore this possibility and to make a case for seeing freedom, not primarily as a function of exercising choice, but rather as a one of cultivating and demonstrating relational virtuosity.

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PETER D. HERSHOCK is Director of the Asian Studies Development Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai′i, where he designs and conducts faculty development programs aimed at globalizing undergraduate humanities and social science education. A noted expert on Buddhism, he has written about the philosophical and historical dimensions of Buddhist practice in Liberating Intimacy: Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Chan Buddhism and Chan Buddhism. He has also made use of Buddhist thought to address contemporary issues in Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age; Buddhism in the Public Sphere: Reorienting Global Interdependence and Valuing Diversity: Buddhist Reflection on Realizing a More Equitable Global Future. His most recent book is Public Zen, Personal Zen: A Buddhist Introduction.
 
Peter Hershok is being hosted by the Center for the Study of Religion at OSU. 
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