The course focused on the thought of the Indian Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti. Professor Dunne examined, in his very engaging and humorous style, the nature of perception, and in particular the way in which awareness operates in both dual and non-dual modes. He discussed the philosophical developments of a number of different Buddhist schools as well. In so doing, he challenged our common assumptions regarding the way we know things, how we can ever reliably attain knowledge of even an ordinary kind, let alone knowledge about ultimate reality, how mind can validly know and experience outer objects and even itself, and what the ultimate nature of awareness might be like.
Professor John D. Dunne (PhD 1999, Harvard University) holds the Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Humanities, an endowed position created through the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He also holds a co-appointment in the new Department of Asian Languages & Cultures.
Professor Dunne’s work focuses on Buddhist philosophy and contemplative practice, especially as it dialogues with Cognitive Science and Psychology. His publications appear in venues ranging across both the Humanities and the Sciences, and they include works on Buddhist philosophy, contemplative practice, and their interpretation within scientific contexts.