Student’s query on PhD programs

A student contacted me with the following query:

I recently finished an MA in philosophy at the University of New mexico, USA. […] I’m writing you because it has been difficult to find a place where I can pursue the project I’m most interested in. I would like to develop scientific and philosophical methods for evaluating the experiential claims made in the meditative traditions of India, and apply whatever data emerges to philosophy of mind/consciousness studies. Do you have any suggestions about where such a project might be done?

When I asked for further details, he added:

I studied Vedānta, Mīmāṃsā, and the Indian debates about consciousness and self, with John Taber, and I studied Nāgārjuna with Richard Hayes. My MA research was on representationalist theories of consciousness and how they do not seem to be able to account for purportedly contentless experiences such asamprajñāta samādhi. I have already started on several facets of the project I suggested in my first message. For instance, I have a paper briefly sketching the project coming out in the Fall APA Newsletter on Asian and Asian American Philosophy, a co-authored paper in the revise and resubmit phase with the Journal of Consciousness Studies, using phenomenological reports of specific meditative experiences to illuminate a poorly understood aspect of Kurt Gödel’s proof of his Incompleteness Theorem(s), a co-authored paper in development on third-person scientific approaches to meditation research for The Oxford Handbook on Meditation, and a co-edited book on objectless experience under contract with the publisher Imprint Academic.

Financial support would be a must, although moving to some areas would be easier than others.

Do readers have useful suggestions? As I see it, the student would need both financial and research support (it would not make much sense to work on his own on such a challenging project).

Embedding (materialist) philosophy into a narrative (a guest post by Syed Arman)

This post starts a series of guest posts by younger colleagues. Syed Arman is a student of Muzaffar Ali and the following text was composed in connection with a class on Ethics. Please let me know what you think about this post and about the series by leaving a comment below.

A visit to the Cursed Village (The Lokayatas)

Summary: Sarah, a German girl, was on a visit to India for a study of its diverse culture and age old tradition. Here she meets Daksh, a young chap from a small town, who helps her in exploring the various spheres of the Indian heritage. It becomes an entirely different experience for her, many rare customs and traditions which she had only read about; she stands now a witness to all these. Sarah had an idea about what her visit in India would be like but there was something which came out of the box, and she is utterly astonished and dazzled to learn about that. It changes the way she used to look at the teachings of this land. Her visit to a place referred to as “Cursed Village” by the locals—the village of the Indian materialists, the Lokayatas—makes her realise that Indian philosophy is not limited to the limitless transcendental atman, but there are some who reduce transcendental Atman to the limited living-body and have a reason for that. The dialogues show how the cursed village turns out to be a blessing for Sarah and Daksh.

Written by:
Syed Arman
B.A. 2 nd yr. Philosophy Hons.
Hindu College, Delhi University, India

The full text is available below or here: