Feature Stories Campus Events All Stories

Jay L. Garfield to Deliver Robert W. Root ’42 Endowment Lecture at W&L The esteemed Buddhist philosopher will host a talk in Stackhouse Theater on March 7.

Jay-Garfield-546x533 Jay L. Garfield to Deliver Robert W. Root ’42 Endowment Lecture at W&LJay L. Garfield

Jay L. Garfield, director of the Buddhist Studies program and Tibetan Studies in India program at Smith College and visiting professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, will deliver the Robert W. Root Endowment Lecture at Washington and Lee University on Thursday, March 7 at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater in Elrod Commons.

Garfield’s lecture, titled “Falling Hairs and Crumbling Foundations: What Tibetan Madhyamaka Can Contribute to Contemporary Epistemology,” is free and open to the public.

In his talk, Garfield will explore the possibility of knowledge in cases of pervasive illusions and errors. He will explore ways of making progress if we begin in ignorance and have only defective epistemic instruments at our disposal. These same questions were at the heart of the Into-Tibetan debates in epistemology and Garfield will explore how Into-Tibetan ideas can be useful for us to construct the edifice of knowledge.

Recognized by academicinfluence.com as one of the 50 most influential philosophers in the world over the last decade, Garfield has published over 30 books and more than 200 articles, chapters and reviews. He has served as a fellow for the Australian Academy of the Humanities since 2016, and was a 2023 recipient of Smith College’s Sherrerd Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“We are honored to host Jay Garfield at our university,” said Li Kang, assistant professor of philosophy at W&L. “Garfield navigates the complex terrains of Eastern and Western philosophy with remarkable curiosity, creativity and the courage to question established norms. I anticipate his lecture will inspire our audience to see the world of ideas through a new lens, sparking a curiosity that questions our standard narratives and urging us to explore how a more integrative approach to philosophy can enrich our understanding of the world and ourselves.”

In addition to teaching at Smith and Harvard, Garfield also serves as a professor of philosophy at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and as an adjunct professor of Western philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies (India). He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

Garfield’s lecture is sponsored by W&L’s philosophy department and the Root Lecture Fund. The Root Lecture Fund was established by Robert W. Root ’42 in 1991 to support guest speakers selected on a rotating basis by the departments of cognitive and behavioral science, philosophy and religion.