Jay L. Garfield

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Why Is Jay L. Garfield Influential?

Jay L. Garfield is the Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities at Smith College, as well as the director of the Logic Program, and the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program. Additionally, Garfield is on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Melbourne University, and the Central University of Tibetan Studies in India. Garfield completed his undergraduate studies at Oberlin College in 1975, and his PhD at the University of Pittsburgh in 1986. He has previously taught at Hampshire College, and the University of Tasmania.

Garfield specializes in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, and applies its concepts toward questions and issues including ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. In relation to this, Garfield is a known critic of the modern state of philosophy. Notably, Garfield argues that philosophy today is (and as it has been for centuries) is Eurocentric, and still largely treats Western philosophy, especially ancient Greek philosophy, as the “core” of the field, while readily ignoring or dismissing the significant philosophical traditions of non-western cultures. Toward this, Garfield famously (and controversially) claimed in a May, 2016 essay in The New York Times that if philosophy departments continue to uphold this Eurocentrism, then they should call themselves what they are: Departments of Western Philosophy.

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According to Wikipedia, Jay Lazar Garfield is an American professor of philosophy who specializes in Tibetan Buddhism. He also specializes on the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, ethics, and hermeneutics. He is currently Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities at Smith College, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Buddhist Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies.

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