I hope you watched at least a few minutes of Wendy Davis and her epic filibuster. I appreciate the rhetorical force of the exercise more than anything else. At the end of the day, the strength of the filibuster is not really in what is said but that a person feels so strongly about an issue, sees it as so important, that she will literally not stand down in defense. I think having that exercise is important in a democracy where consensus must emerge from public discussion and rational persuasion. We all know that rhetoric is not entirely rational, but the emotional component is an important flag for reason. The investment of the speaker demonstrates a conviction that counts in favor of revisiting one’s own position on an issue, makes you look closer at why someone would feel so strongly. These are important considerations in shaping a community because we need to recognize the concerns of our fellows as just as important to them as ours are to us. Wendy Davis demonstrated that conviction today, and well done.
Many of these blog entries have concerned my main research in political philosophy, intellectual property and technology. Now for something a little different, I thought I would write up some thoughts on another area of interest: Buddhism. For those who don't know, I've taught courses in Buddhism since I began teaching, having learned a great deal from my undergraduate advisor, Donald Hanks, and Ashok Aklujkar, a now-retired professor of Indian languages, literature and philosophy for whom I served as teaching assistant during my time at UBC. Thanks to their instruction, I developed a solid knowledge of the Indian Buddhist tradition, and I've used what they taught me to deepen and develop that knowledge to improve my teaching and my personal meditation practice. While I don't want to write a full tutorial on Buddhist thought, I would like to discuss a notion that prevails in some traditions, and that discussion will require one to know a few basic ideas. At its cor