April 22
Panel 1: Applying Anekāntavāda Presiding:
9:30 am - 9:50 am
Applying Anekāntavāda: The Potential of Jain Philosophy for Grounding Dialogue Across Worldviews
20 mins
The philosophical methodology expressed in the Jain teachings of anekāntavāda, nayavāda, and syādvāda is a particularly rich resource for potential applications both to interfaith dialogue and to the dialogue between religion and science, both of which are pressing needs of our current global era. This paper will explore the idea that this Jain approach to truth could be adopted even by non-Jains in the effort to bridge the gaps which currently exist between diverse religions and between religion and science (as well as between religious and secular thought more generally). The aim of such an effort would not be to produce agreement in all areas, but to foster mutual respect on the basis of a shared commitment to the idea that reality is vast and mysterious and thus conducive to being explained and understood in a wide variety of ways. Rather than seeing worldviews which diverge from one’s own as simply false, the Jain approach invites us to seek out the kernel of truth which can be discerned in many views of our shared reality.Read MoreRead Less
9:50 am - 10:10 am
Anekāntvāda, an Anthropological Perspective of Jain Laity
20 mins
In this paper, I explore anekāntvāda from an anthropological perspective. Anekāntvāda has received much attention from renowned philosophers and Jain scholars; despite this, anekāntvāda has mainly been an area of philosophical exploration. For instance, Peter Flugel views anekāntvāda is “nowadays seen as a trademark of Jaina philosophy.” Similarly, B.K. Matilal considers anekāntvāda to be the “central Jain philosophy.” By contrast, Jaynendra Soni notes that anekāntvāda is “a small, albeit basic, part of Jain thought.” Research on how Jain practitioners view anekāntvāda is yet missing in the growing field of Jain studies. It is crucial to understand anekāntvāda beyond philosophy because of its exclusiveness and centrality in the tradition. This paper aims to fill the gap by examining anekāntvāda from the laity’s perspective. The main questions I will explore are: What is the correlation of anekāntvāda with applied Jain ethics? How does anekāntvāda influence vis-ā-vis indifference to the laity’s religious, spiritual, personal, and professional life? This exploration seeks to provide insights into how familiar the Jain lay community is with anekāntvāda, supposedly the “central Jain philosophy.”Read MoreRead Less
10:10 am - 10:30 am
20 mins
Panel 2: Jain Approaches to Climate Change and Environment Presiding:
10:40 am - 11:00 am
A Jain Quaker Approach to Climate Change and Long-Term Sustainability
20 mins
Climate change work typically focuses on three things: reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels, mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, and adapting to the effects of global climate disruption. Sustainability is often cheapened into slightly “greener” forms of business as usual. Applied Jain Studies begins from a much more systemic perspective. Climate change is the result of violence (himsa) in mindset and actions. It’s caused by a single species transforming the global environment through its selfish desires and pleasures, which is resulting in the collapse of scores of ecosystems and the permanent extinction of uncountable species. By contrast, if we are truthful, sustainability must mean nothing less than global ahimsa. Only a deep change of attitude ― the sort we see in the more advanced souls across history ― will bring about genuine long-term sustainability, or what we call an ecological civilization. Written from a Jain-Quaker perspective, this paper details how deep the ecological transformation must go, and what it will take to reach it. Although our critics say that the dream of nonviolence is hopelessly idealistic, in fact there is no way that humans will achieve an authentically ecological civilization on this planet without such an inner transformation as well.Read MoreRead Less
11:00 am - 11:20 am
Climate and Environment - A Conversation Rooted in Justice
20 mins
The conversation around climate change and the environment is often homogenized to give a sense that the impact on environment results in the same harm to all of us. It often discounts the disproportionate impact on different communities, which actually makes this a social justice issue. This session will focus on why it is an imperative to act, and take into consideration the voices of the global majority, and why Jain principles call us to act.Read MoreRead Less
11:20 am - 11:40 am
Jain Responses to Climate Change
20 mins
Climate change is arguably the biggest collective challenge human society has ever encountered. Among many of the innovative solutions that have and continue to be proposed, the Jain tradition encourages an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, which, if incorporated into our daily lives worldwide, could have a significant impact in reducing the worst of the climate disaster that is yet to come. In this paper, I will present the Jain way of life in conversation with some of climate change’s most pressing issues. I will also present some of the historical and practical obstacles and limitations of such an approach, encouraging us to think about the ways that unacknowledged privilege, class, and other dimensions of social life can serve as impediments to realizing this Jain way of life both individually and collectively.Read MoreRead Less
11:40 am - 12:10 pm
30 mins
Panel 3: Jain Professional Ethics Presiding:
12:20 pm - 12:40 pm
Aparigraha: Jain Theory and Practice of Finance
20 mins
The powerful yet platonic discipline of finance is ‘resisting’ cultural and ethical dialogue, making it ever more technocratic and incapable of questioning its own fundamental assumptions and paradigms. Little is known about the global Jain community, one of the world’s oldest living cultures, and its intricate and distinctive living ethic and philosophy of finance which has given them sustained long-term success and leadership in business. This essay applies auto-ethnography and the concept of ‘person-in-community’ to examine the core Jain principle of aparigraha or non-possession, introducing a unique method of understanding the nature and practice of finance. The philosophy is explained, and connected to the lived practices of Jain businesses and communities, to show how a culture of sustained success is inculcated. A pragmatic & contemporary ethical way of maintaining respect and accountability to society and the environment is elucidated, one which need not compromise on economic viability or sustainability. Understanding, self-discipline, practice and reflexivity are shown as keys to restraining possessiveness and greed. It is an organic approach, where trust is developed and replenished, such that finance flows to good uses and a peaceful planet and society results. In the process, concepts and practices of sustainable leadership in finance are elaborated. A mind-set of pluralism and inclusivity helps managers adapt to a global inter-connected world. New insights toward reforming the morality of finance theory, culture and education are offered.Read MoreRead Less
12:40 pm - 1:00 pm
Discussions & Debates on Degrowth, Wantlessness, Free Markets, and Self-Actualization- From Lenses of Jainism
20 mins
In the metaphysical principles of virtue, Kant describes happiness as “continuous well-being, enjoyment of life, complete satisfaction with one’s condition” ; Considering Kant’s definition of happiness in growth based dynamic business philosophy, it is not possible that all of us can be happy at the same time because what one wants might mean preventing others from getting what they want. However, most of our business transactions today are fundamentally premised on a growth-based market economy it promotes business corporations that can satisfy multiple wants of their consumers and assumes that this makes consumers happy. The most popular notion on this states that satisfaction of multiple wants for a consumer can fetch him or her perpetual happiness and satisfaction. Contradicting this belief Jain principles of Ahimsa, Aparigraha, and Anekant express a different perspective it argues that the highest level of ethical standard in business and self-bliss can be achieved if an individual voluntarily arrests material growth and substantially start focusing on degrowth along with spirituality In the context of 21st-century economics present research paper gives ample opportunities to discuss and debate the merits and demerits of “Austerity” versus “Keynesian expansion”. Apart from the three principles i.e., Ahimsa, Aparigraha, and Anekant Jainism also place a premium on dualistic concepts, which are distinct for ascetics (monks) and laypeople. Monks are very concerned with the spiritual elevation of their souls, and hence forego all worldly pleasures and familial connections in order to take the five major vows (Mahavratas). For people who choose to stay in family life and find it difficult to abstain completely from the five fundamental sins, Jain ethics prescribes the following twelve vows to be kept by the householder. The first five of these twelve vows are the primary vows of restricted character (Anuvratas). They are considerably simpler than large vows (Mahavratas) since they restrict actions to a partial basis. The intended research approach would be exploratory it would use a fictional case, inspired by a real-life incident to reconnoiter answers to the proposed questions. In this research paper, I will try to answer four fundamental questions: 1. Can voluntary degrowth and wantlessness of an individual promote overall welfare for the potential consumer? 2. Does the free market give people real freedom? 3. Can self-actualization only be achieved by detachment from extrinsic transactions and rewards? 4. Is it necessary to know when to exit from your professional activities or Business activities? The present paper is structured into five sections, in section 2 existing literature on Jainism is reviewed. In section 3, the research methodology and the case used here are discussed. In section 4 analysis and impact of this study along with proposed questions are discussed in detail in section 5, The final conclusions and further areas of research are deliberated. The interpretations drawn in this paper, will essentially try to find the converging areas where Jain philosophy can contribute to modern subjects like Psychology, Sociology, Economics and Consumer Behavior.Read MoreRead Less
1:00 pm - 1:20 pm
Applying Jain Ideas: Interdisciplinary Business Ethics and Critical Thinking Education
20 mins
In a typical critical thinking and business ethics education, students receive prescriptions to think and act in particular ways on the basis of descriptions of how some reliable authorities think and act. In this generalized picture, students are tacitly expected to ignore the fallacies at the basis of this reasoning – perhaps most prominently a naturalistic fallacy and an appeal to authority. For example, even if students learn that corporations do value stakeholders, or that corporations do tend to make more money when they value stakeholders, that does not itself establish whether or why students should believe that corporations should value stakeholders. In this way, practical strategies in both critical thinking and business ethics education are often unaccompanied by direct consideration of foundational issues concerning normative or ontological justification. Since the responsible application of ideas in each field presupposes such justification, there is a clear need for educational resources which would remedy this shortcoming by explicitly considering those issues. In this essay, I explore a number of specific ways in which Jain ideas may be helpful in opening up dialogue surrounding normative and ontological questions which arise in business ethics and critical thinking education.Read MoreRead Less
1:20 pm - 1:50 pm
30 mins
Panel 4: Jain Approaches to Animals and Animal Advocacy Presiding:
2:00 pm - 2:20 pm
Jain Virtue Ethics & Animal Rights
20 mins
For millennia, it has been widely recognized that the Jain tradition has been distinctive in its central focus on nonviolence (ahiṃsā) towards all beings (jīva-s). In more recent times, the Animal Rights and Vegan Movement and has increasingly taken notice of this feature of the Jain tradition. Conversely, many Jains in the Western world have taken notice of a similar centrality of an ethos of nonviolence in the Animal Rights Movement and have been increasingly adopting a vegan lifestyle, which is perceived as consistent with Jain philosophy. However, many intellectuals in the field of animal advocacy have tended to employ utilitarianism (e.g. Peter Singer) or deontology (e.g. Tom Regan) to justify their positions, both of which seem discordant with traditional Jain ethical frameworks. This presentation will explore how the virtue ethics provides an ethical framework that is most consistent with Jain philosophy, and how animal advocacy and veganism follow naturally from Jain virtue ethics.Read MoreRead Less
2:20 pm - 2:40 pm
Rejecting Species: Jainism and Sentient Rights
20 mins
Decades ago in Practical Ethics, Peter Singer issued the principle of the “equal consideration of interests,” whereby “we give equal weight in our moral deliberations to the like interests of all those affected by our actions" because "an interest is an interest, whoever’s interest it may be.” Singer’s point is that we cannot deny appropriate moral consideration to a being’s interest simply because the being has been classified as, for example, “pig” and not “human.” Provided the relationship of sentience to interests—and interests to moral considerability—Alasdair Cochrane argues for “sentient rights” rather than "human rights" or “animal rights.” Singer’s and Cochrane’s emphases on sentience and interests rather than species classification—especially “being human”—are shared by a Jain text composed over two thousand years ago. The Tattvārtha Sūtra teaches that the practice of ethical decision-making initiates not from categories such as “species,” but rather from the differential vulnerabilities and capacities of sentient beings. This talk explores the problem of "species," the implausibility of speciesism, and how a perspective akin to “sentient rights” has existed in Jain traditions for millennia.Read MoreRead Less
2:40 pm - 3:00 pm
An Analysis of the Application of Ahimsa and Anekānta to an Understanding of Animal Rights
20 mins
In this paper I explore ways of understanding the concept of “Applied Jainism” with respect to the contemporary moral issue of animal rights. I examine how the Jain concept of Ahimsa as well as the Jain concept of Life can be applied to issues involving animal rights within a larger context where a diversity of perspectives concerning the moral status of animals is held. I also utilize the Jain concept of Anekānta in the acknowledgment of the many perspectives which can be held toward the moral status of animals. I argue that the term “Applied Jainism” can be appropriately and meaningfully used whenever an individual’s phenomenological experience or rational consideration as been affected by Jain ideas in a relevant way and is included in their analysis of a contemporary issue. I then consider how this understanding of the term “Applied Jainism” relates to both pragmatic and coherent theories of knowledge.Read MoreRead Less
3:00 pm - 3:20 pm
A Jain Perspective on Faux Meat
20 mins
While the production and popularity of plant-based ("faux") meat that closely resembles animal flesh is promising in terms of reducing support for industrial animal agriculture, philosophers such as Susan M. Turner and Rebekah Sinclair have argued that it poses another ethical issue through the symbolic endorsement of animals as "edible." In this paper, I discuss the relationship between these views and Jain teachings. Beyond denouncing the physical actions of killing and eating animals, I examine Jain perspectives warning against the symbolic representation of animals in food, as well as contemporary Jain perspectives on faux meat. I argue that, while not providing grounds for the total cessation of production or consumption of faux meat, Jainism's triadic ontology of violence (i.e., Jainism’s emphasis on avoiding violence through thought, word, and action, rather than merely focusing on physical action alone) provides further support for taking faux meat's ethical concerns seriously.Read MoreRead Less
3:20 pm - 3:50 pm
30 mins
Panel 5: Jain Roundtable: Applying Jain Principlies in Everyday Life Presiding:
4:00 pm - 4:10 pm
Narendra Bhandari
10 mins
4:10 pm - 4:20 pm
Manoj Jain
10 mins
4:20 pm - 4:30 pm
Sushama Parekh
10 mins
4:30 pm - 4:40 pm
Nitin Shah
10 mins
4:40 pm - 5:00 pm
Roundtable and Q&A
20 mins