Joanne Birdwhistell

Dr. Joanne Birdwhistell

Professor Emerita of Philosophy and Asian Civilization

Thursday, May 28, 2020,


delivered via Zoom Webinar*

Joanne Birdwhistell will provide an overview of Buddhism in regard to its fundamental religious and philosophical beliefs, its historical development, and its profound contributions to cultures and societies in Asia and elsewhere. Buddhism has been able to have a global reach because its core teachings do not depend upon culturally specific social practices but, instead, focus on the nature of human existence itself. It can be seen as a form of religious pragmatism. Dr. Birdwhistell will discuss major terms and concepts, such as the Four Noble Truths, karma, nirvana, and enlightenment, as well as important characteristics of Buddhist scriptures, or sutras. Her lecture will address the historical origins of Buddhism in India and its eventual spread to parts of Central Asia, all of East Asia, and now to the entire world. The third area of her talk will briefly take up some of Buddhism’s numerous cultural contributions to art, literature, and philosophy.

Joanne Birdwhistell is Professor Emerita of Philosophy and Asian Civilization from Stockton University in Pomona, NJ.  She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated valedictorian of her class.  After studying in Taiwan for a year, she earned her MA and PhD from Stanford University in Asian Languages.

While her specialty is Chinese philosophy, she has also taught other Asian philosophies and histories, especially those of Japan and India.  She has published three books: Transition to Neo-Confucianism: Shao Yung on Knowledge and Symbols of Reality), Li Yong (1627-1705) and Epistemological Dimensions of Confucian Philosophy, and Mencius and Masculinities: Dynamics of Power, Morality and Maternal Thinking, and numerous articles on Chinese philosophy. After retiring, she moved to Santa Fe, NM, where she taught continuing education courses for many years at the Renesan Institute for Lifelong Learning. Currently she is an active resident of Academy Village.

Written by Maria Dobozy, Academy Village Volunteer

*Directions to connect to the Webinar may be obtained from

May 28: “Buddhism and its Global Reach”