A symposium focused on a new translation of Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses and Exposition
In North America today, philosophers are aware of and often respectful of non-canonical philosophical traditions, but still, Buddhist philosophical texts are taught almost exclusively in Religion departments. Perhaps the problem is partly one of translation.
The Vasubandhu Translation Group (VTG) has sought to create texts that can be dropped into a non-specialist’s philosophy course: This includes their recently-completed draft translation of the 5th century Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses and Exposition (Viṃśikāvṛtti). So, we’ve provided the draft to ten Philosophy professors and asked them each to provide their thoughts in response to the following question: “Can you imagine a place for a text like this in a philosophy curriculum?”
Has the VTG succeeded in producing a translation that might fit into a philosophy course? If not, why not? What works and what doesn’t? What’s left to do? What kinds of contextualization, justification, translation choices, notes/apparatus, or disciplinary changes would be necessary to grant this text—or other Buddhist philosophical texts—a week in a course? Answers to these questions have ramifications beyond the text in question and beyond Buddhist philosophy. The six members of the VTG will participate in conversation with the presenters.
A keynote by one of the translators, Parimal Patil (Harvard University) will follow the day’s conversations. His talk is entitled “Philosophy, Philosophers, and Buddhist Scholastic Texts (Śāstra).” Another member of the VTG, Trina Janiec Jones, will be discussant after the talk.
9-10:30am Panel 1 Jonathan Gold, moderator
11am-12:45pm Panel 2 Hagop Sarkissian, moderator
2:00-3:30pm Panel 3 Jonathan Gold, moderator
4:00-5:00pm Panel 4: Translators' panel (general discussion) Nataliya Yanchevskaya, moderator
Trina Janiec Jones
Parimal Patil, "Philosophy, Philosophers and Buddhist Scholastic Texts (Śāstra)" Trina Janiec Jones, respondent