Public Talk: Ancient Lineages, Modern Re-awakenings: Marx, Buddha and the Pursuit of Happiness

General Information

Time: Monday, 14 Februray 2022, 2 pm CEST
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Devan Pillay

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Thematic Focus

This talk takes as its starting point the inter-connections between ecology, economy and society, which allows for a deeper exploration of issues that fall under the rubric of 'holistic development'.

This deep exploration goes back to the ancient thinking of the Axial Age over 2000 years ago, where religious and secular philosophers grappled with the problem of human suffering, in a context of brutal class formation and the emergence of coinage and debt. Against the dominating principles of Ego, selfishness and violence, they advocated for a compassionate approach, whereby the Ego is contained and the Golden Rule - Do to Others as you would have Them do to You -- was emphasised. For many of these thinkers the Other encompassed not just fellow humans, but also other sentient beings and Nature.

Ancient thinking is linked to modern re-awakenings, as society today grapples with rising social inequality, alienation and what some have termed 'ecocide'. It includes the Ecological Marxist, ecosocialist, happiness and wellbeing perspectives -- as well as the social ecology, eco-feminist and democratic civilization approach of Abdullah Ocalan (the intellectual leader of the liberated area of Rojava in northern Syria).

This talk will question conventional notions of ‘development’, without necessarily throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.