Lara Marie Mitias currently serves as an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Antioch College where she teaches Asian philosophies, along with various courses in Western Philosophy. She completed her doctorate at the University of Hawaii specializing in Asian and Comparative philosophy. She has taught over 35 different courses in Western and non-Western philosophy, including Logic, Metaphysics, Social and Political Philosophy, Philosophy for Children (P4C) and courses on Death, along with many independent study courses, including On Happiness, and Indian Philosophy of Language. She has two published articles, “Desiring the Past,” and “P4C: Process, Perspective, and Pluralism for Children.”
In this class we will study the writings of the some of the most interesting and influential philosophers of the 19th and 20th century, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. These philosophers bring our attention back to fundamental aspects of our own existence and experience and so have been classified together as ‘existentialist’. Existentialist philosophers don’t offer us a philosophical movement, or any set of philosophical claims, or even methods. These philosophers aimed to lead us to our own point of view by giving us access to their singular points of view. They bring our attention to essential aspects of being an existing individual, and as both subject and object. Turning our focus back to the experience of being ‘the existing individual’, and recognizing the reality or ‘truth’ of our own subjectivity, has been a significant movement in the history of philosophy. This revival of the real (experiencing) subject has been pivotal for philosophical and social and political developments in the 20-21st century.
Indian and Buddhist Philosophy
This course is an introduction to Indian philosophical traditions including Buddhism.
We begin with the Vedas and Upanisads, at the beginning of written history and with some of the earliest writing we have. In these ancient Sanskrit texts we find the seeds of a complex and analytical philosophical tradition, giving rise to a detailed development through theoretical debate with opposing schools lasting over a millennia.
From these early profound expressions of Indian philosophy, we turn to the seminal text of Indian culture and thought, the Bhagavad Gita, or Song of God. We will explore the ethics of the Gita with the study of Yoga philosophy, including parts of the Yoga Sutras, and will discuss the pervasion of the philosophy of yoga in the Indian philosophical and religious traditions, as well as its appropriation of this tradition and these ideas in the West. This text has been said to give the distillation of Indian philosophy offering its essence. In this text we also find the presentation of the views of two central strains of Indian philosophical thought: Advaita-Vedanta and Samkhya-Yoga. We will read from these schools most significant and most expressive texts, as well as secondary sources clarifying these philosophies.
After establishing this background in Classical Indian philosophies we will turn to Buddhist Philosophical developments. The Buddha lived relatively early in the development of Indian philosophies and the schools developed in argument with one another. In this enduring conversation, Buddhism is often involved and its traditions often hold views antithetical to central views held in common by other schools, and we will explore these important differences. We will also look at what is shared in these Indian traditions and its significance and in relation to more familiar Western philosophical ideas. There are also many divergences among and between these traditions on many issues and ideas. We will read excerpts from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions, including the words of Buddha and important Buddhist texts. We will end with a short introduction to the development Chan Buddhism in China and then Zen in Japan.
Philosophy for Children (P4C)
P4C stands for ‘Philosophy for Children,’ and is an innovative international pedagogical movement meant to foster inquiry and critical thinking skills in a shared community.
When we do philosophy with children (P4C), we don’t teach philosophy. Instead, we facilitate group discussion among students. P4C is most often at the elementary level, but can be done with any grade or group and the methods of P4C and their practice are useful far beyond the classroom.
With the Philosophers Toolkit for understanding one another in hand, and the rules and practices of doing P4C in shared community, together we discuss issues concerning the students and explore ideas that they are interested in. Through the practices of inquiry and critical thinking skills, students consider their own thinking and that of others on interesting and important questions. These may be questions that we often don’t take time to explore. “Why does someone become homeless and why do we treat them badly?” a fearless group of students in Hawaii asked after one of them had thrown stones at a man living on a beach the day before. Children have innumerable ideas and questions; things they think and wonder about and want to talk about, and practicing P4C in the classroom gives us the opportunity.
The idea of P4C, and the P4C program was created by Matthew Lipman at Montclair State University but the ideals of P4C, and the importance of developing the thinking skills and practice of community inquiry can be traced to John Dewey and the requirements for genuinely democratic societies. And P4C has been called ‘philosophy for everyone,’ and its use and benefits extend far beyond the classroom. The methods of P4C enable us to engage and discuss critical issues together in a critical and productive way without being critical of others or being criticized by others. These methods of engagement and inquiry and this model of pedagogy are essential to productive dialogue and understanding.
The experiences we have doing P4C in the classroom are exciting and unique. It is very fun, often enlightening, and always interesting!
All Special Topics Courses in Philosophy (these are student-interest driven):
Recent Special Topics:
- Philosophy of Time
- Yoga Philosophy: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
Recent Independent Studies:
“De and Yin: Can Daoist philosophy offer us a new feminism?” Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy (SACP) Conference, Beijing China 6/2017
“Going without-going: Going without-going: Conclusions on present time from a Nyāya-Buddhist debate,” American Philosophical Association Pacific meeting, March 2017
“Phenomenologies of Place” Philosopher’s Roundtable, Antioch College, October 2016
“The Place of the Body in Nishida Kitaro’s Phenomenology of Place,” Philosopher’s Roundtable, Antioch College, January 2017
“Living Places,” 11th international Philosophers East-West Conference on ‘Place,’ East-West Center, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, May 23-June 12016
“The Conversion of Opposites: Speculative Metaphysis and the Appreciation of Beauty in Whitehead’s Philosophy and Daoist Thought,” Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP) 43rd Annual Convention, University of Oregon and Oregon State University, March 3-6 2016
“The Transitivity of External Good-ness and It’s Significance,” response paper to M. Cashen “Aristotle on External Goods: Applying the Politics to the Nichomachean Ethics,” Indiana Philosophical Association (IPA) Conference Response Paper, November 12-14 2015
“The Logic of Dao” submitted to Frontiers in Chinese Philosophy (FPC), Brill Publishing, Submitted 6/2016, in third and final review 3/2017.
“The Place of the Body in the Phenomenology of Place: Edward Casey and Nishida Kitaro.” In Place. Edited by Peter D. Hershock and Roger T. Ames. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, forthcoming.