Berkeley Public Forum on Religion
Transactional Reality and the Regimes of Truth
Sara McClintock, Associate Professor of Tibetan and Indian Buddhism, Emory University
Wednesday, March 11, 5-7pm
Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
The premise of this talk is that knowledge is not something that we can discover but rather only something that we can produce. As such, each new instance of knowledge emerges transactionally through the interaction of configurations of materiality, discourse, and ideology—realities that are themselves the product of complex transactions. Drawing on theories from the Indian Buddhist epistemological tradition, this talk argues à la Foucault for the need to attend to structures of power in relation to knowledge so that we may recognize the nature of the regimes of truth in which we participate. The point is not to escape the regimes of truth but to better understand them so as to make them and ourselves more pliable. As truth is recognized to be itself a product and a transactional reality, the problem of finding a foundation for rationality is replaced by the problem of recognizing our responsibility for shaping the transactional fields in which knowledge is produced. The talk will end with a consideration of the implications of this recognition for the modern scientific study of Buddhist meditation and other contemplative practices.
Sara McClintock is Associate Professor of Religion at Emory University, where she teaches courses in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and interpretation theory in the study of religion. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Bryn Mawr College (1983), her master’s degree in world religions from Harvard Divinity School (1989), and her doctorate in religion from Harvard University (2002). Her interests include narrative, philosophy, and contemplative practices, with particular focus on issues of rationality, rhetoric, reading, embodiment, emptiness, and ethics. She is author of Omniscience and the Rhetoric of Reason: Santaraksita and Kamalasila on Rationality, Argumentation, and Religious Authority (2010) and co-editor with Georges Dreyfus of The Svatantrika-Prasangika Distinction: What Difference Does a Difference Make? (2003). Recent writings include “Compassionate Trickster: The Buddha as a Literary Character in the Narratives of Early Indian Buddhism” (2011) and an article on the status of phenomenal content (akara) in cognition in Kamalasila’s Tattvasamgrahapanjika (2013). She is co-translator with John Dunne of Nagarjuna’s Ratnavali.
Co-presented with the Center for Buddhist Studies.