logo
logo

Lecture

 

Buddhism, Whiteness and the Indian Institution of Caste. A Talk by Frank Hoffman

 

© Arvind Shakya

 

The Madhura Sutta is in analytic philosophy format, written with five arguments that have step-by-step premises and a clear conclusion against caste. In much of the English-speaking world, the idea of philosophy is understood as both (a) the clarification of concepts and (b) the critical analysis of arguments. In this sutta we can see analysis of the brahmins’ concept that they are the best people, and a point-by-point Buddhist refutation of it. In this paper, Prof Hoffman juxtaposes the ancient sutta with a recent publication edited by George Yancy and Emily McRae, Buddhism and Whiteness: Critical Reflections (Lexington Books, 2019). With evidence from Pali Buddhist sutta and modern scholarship, he develops an argument to the point that guarding the gateways of mind and senses is a valuable practice that may be applied to guard against racial bias. Doing so may ensure right view that minimizes obsession, hate and confusion in everyday life.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Prof Dr Frank J. Hoffman is Professor at International Buddhist Studies College of Mahachulalongkorn-rajavidyalaya University and Visiting Scholar Associate in South Asia Center at University of Pennsylvania.  Prof Hoffman received a PhD in Philosophy of Religion at King’s College London, an MA in Philosophy at University of Hawai’i, and a BA in Philosophy at University of Missouri – St. Louis. He has 125 published items including Rationality and Mind in Early Buddhism, Introduction to Early Buddhism, Breaking Barriers (with Godabarisha Mishra), and Pali Buddhism (with Mahinda Deegalle). Prof Hoffman is Associate Editor of the journal Asian Philosophy, was Chair of Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium (GPPC) and is now on the GPPC Board of Governors. He was an NEH summer institute/seminar participant at Harvard, Columbia, UH, and UCLA. He held Rotary Grants for University Teachers in India and China. In the USA, he was full Professor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

Date: Thursday 19 March 2020
Time: 7.00 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2019-2020 Lecture Series.