On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department hosted a talk by Dr. Peter Hershock titled “Climate and Compassion: Buddhist Contribution to an Ethics of Intergenerational Justice.” As the manager of the Asian Studies Development Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dr. Hershock develops and coordinates workshops and field-study programs geared towards the integration of Eastern thought into education and global concerns.
More specifically aligned to Asian Studies within philosophy, Dr. Hershock’s presentation discussed Buddhist angles and approaches to the global climate issue faced by this generation and the many to come. His talk highlighted the importance of acting out of total compassion for earth and humanity, as well as the importance of acting presently in the interests of the future. One of his most thought provoking ideas involved the philosophical connection between our generation and that which has yet to exist, and the ways in which the two shape one another by their treatment and value of the environment.
The presentation, held in Daugherty-Palmer Commons, boasted a room full of students and faculty alike from various majors and disciplines. While the presentation was one that was primarily centered on ethics and intergenerational justice, many environmental studies, sociology, and even political science scholars took interest as well. As Dr. Hershock spoke, his presentation points yielded nods of agreement from many in the room. He even addressed the economic aspects of intergenerational justice and ethics involving the expansion of wage disparity.
Tuesday’s presentation provided grounds for inter-disciplinarian dialogue regarding philosophical approaches to modern conditions. While many may shy away from philosophy presentations, it is important to consider the application of philosophical thought to practical concerns such as climate change. In applying Buddhist philosophy of compassion to intergenerational ethics, the presentation of Dr. Peter Hershock did just that.