About Amber Carpenter

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BA (Yale), PhD (Kings College London)
Associate Professor in Humanities (Philosophy),
Yale-NUS College, Singapore

Email: amber.carpenter@yale-nus.edu.sg

See also: buddhistplatonistdialogues.com

Amber Carpenter works in ancient Greek and classical Indian philosophy, with a topical focus on the metaphysics, epistemology and moral psychology underpinning Plato’s ethics and Indian Buddhist ethics. She returns continually to the question of the place of reason in the well-lived life, according to various accounts of reason, of the good, and of the reality within which life takes shape. When this is at stake, the metaphysics matters; the epistemology and psychology necessarily draw in matter to who we ought be, and how we ought to live.

While publishing on each of these ancient traditions separately, her work increasingly brings Greek and Indian Buddhist philosophy together around topics at these same intersections. In additional to particular works—for instance ‘Ethics of Substance’ and ‘Ethics of Atomism’ which explicitly bring Greek and Indian arguments into conversation with each other—her fellowship with The Beacon Project explored ‘Ethical Ambitions and their Formation of Character’ in Plato and in Buddhist thought. She is currently leading a grant-funded international research group on Buddhist-Platonism, Buddhist-Platonist Dialogues.

In the Integrity Project and elsewhere, Dr. Carpenter also is interested in examining the contemporary relevance of ancient views, as well as interdisciplinary work.

She has taught or held visiting research appointments at the University of York, St Andrews, Cornell, Oxford, the University of Melbourne and Yale University.

Dr. Carpenter was Rector of Elm College, Yale-NUS, from 2018-2020, and Head of Philosophy from 2015 to 2017. She has co-founded the Ancient Worlds Research Group at Yale-NUS, and the Yorkshire Ancient Philosophy Network while in Yorkshire, as well as collaborating with Rachael Wiseman on the Integrity Project.


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ABC Radio, Australia, Nov. 2019: Plato, Buddhism and Storytelling

History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Jan. 2018: Animals in Indian Philosophy

Einstein Forum Anniversary Conference, June 2018: ‘The Beauty of Plato’s Truth’

‘Curing Through Questioning’ Conference, Oxford, May 2019: “Confessions of a Buddhist Platonist”  (China Minutes interview on Platonism and Buddhism)

selected publications test 2

  • link icon design sherice Indian Buddhist Philosophy. Routledge (Acumen2014
  • Portraits of Integrity, C. Alston, A. Carpenter, Rachael Wiseman. eds. Bloomsbury 2020
  • Crossing the Stream, Leaving the Cave: Buddhist-Platonist Philosophical Inquiries, Amber Carpenter and Pierre-Julien Harter, eds. OUP, expected 2024
  • ‘The Importance of Being Autologezomenos: Platonic Accounts and Accountability’, in Power and Knowledge: Autonomy and Self-Knowledge in Plato and Beyond, Remes and Petterson, eds. Cambridge University Press (expected 2023-24).
  • ‘The Ethics of Atomism, or The Skepticism that Wasn’t’, British Journal of the History of Philosophy (forthcoming 2023)
  • Ideals and Ethical Formation: Confessions of a Buddhist-Platonist’, Reasons and Empty Persons: Mind, Metaphysics, and Morality, edited by Christian Coseru, Springer. 2023 (pre-proof version)
  • ‘Nāgārjuna: Dependent Arising Without Any Thing Arising’, in The Routledge Handbook of Indian Buddhist Philosophy, edited by William Edelglass, Sara McClintock, and Pierre-Julien Harter, Routledge. 2022 (pre-publication version)
  • ‘Separation Anxieties: Parmenides 133a-135c’ in Plato’s Parmenides, L. Brisson, A. Macé, O. Renault, eds. Brill 2022 (proofs)
  • ‘… ‘and none of us deserving the cruelty or the grace’ – Buddhism and the Problem of Evil’ in Philosophy’s Big Questions: Comparing Buddhist and Western Approaches. Steven Emmanuel, ed. Columbia University Press 2021 (proofs)
  • ‘Function and the Function of the Taxonomy of Skills in Plato’s Statesman 287b-290a’, Plato’s Statesman (The Plato Dialogue Project), Oxford University Press 2021  (proofs)
  • ‘Atoms and Orientation’, in Atomism in Philosophy, Ugo Zilioli, ed. Bloomsbury Academic 2020 (draft)
  • ‘Transformative Vision: Coming to See the Buddha’s Reality’, in Buddhist Literature as Philosophy, Buddhist Philosophy as Literature, Rafal Stepien, ed. SUNY Press 2020
  • ‘The Integrity of Plato’s Socrates’ in Portraits of Integrity, C. Alston, A. Carpenter and R. Wiseman, eds. Bloomsbury 2020
  • ‘Reason and Knowledge on the Path: A Protreptic Approach to the Bodhicaryāvatāra’ for Jonathan Gold, ed. Readings of the Bodhicaryāvatāra, Columbia University Press 2019
  • ‘Impersonal Attention as a Means of Self-Dissolution and Reformation’ Ratio 31/4 (Shalini Sinha, ed.) 2018: 1-13
  • ‘Illuminating Community: How to learn from India’s lack of a category for non-human animals’. Oxford Philosophical Concepts: Animals. P. Adamson and F. Edwards, eds. Oxford. 2018 (draft)
  • The Unhappiness of the Great King’, Rereading Ancient Philosophy: Old Chestnuts and Sacred Cows. (Essays in Honour of M. M. McCabe) Verity Harte and Raphael Woolf, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., 2017 (draft)
  • ‘The Sāṃmitīyas and the Case of the Missing Who: A Buddhist Whodunit?’, in The Return of Consciousness A New Science on Ancient Questions, Anders Haag, ed. Ax:son Johnson Foundation 2017 (page proofs)
  • ‘Ethics Without Justice: Eliminating the Roots of Resentment’ in A Mirror is for Reflection: Understanding Buddhist Ethics, Jake Davis, ed. New York: OUP 2017 (draft)
  • pdf icon ‘Perfect Knowledge and its Affects’ in Plato’s Philebus. Edited by Jakub Jirsa and Štěpán Špinka. Prague: OIKOYMENH 2016
  • pdf icon ‘Ranking Knowledge in Plato’s Philebus’, in Phronesis 60 (2015)  
  • pdf icon ‘Persons Keeping Their Karma Together’  in The Moon Points Back: Analytic Philosophy and Asian Thought. Garfield, Priest and Tanaka, eds. New York: Oxford University Press 2015
  • link icon design sherice ‘Aiming at Happiness, Aiming at Ultimate Truth – In Practice’, in The Cowherds, Moonpaths: Ethics and Emptiness. New York: OUP 2015
  • link icon design sherice ‘Ethics of Substance’, in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume LXXXVIII (2014)
  • pdf icon ‘Judging Strives to be Knowing’, Plato’s Republic: Proceedings of the IXth Symposium Platonicum. Edited by Luc Brisson and Noburu Notomi. Academia Verlag 2012-13  
  • link icon design sherice ‘Eating One’s Own: Exploring Conceptual Space for Moral Restraint in Ancient Greece’, Ethical Perspectives on Animals 1400-1650. Edited by Cecilia Muratori. SISMEL – Editzioni del Galluzzo 2013   
  • pdf icon ‘Faith Without God in Nāgārjuna’ in Thomism and Asian Cultures, Alfredo P. Co and Paolo A. Bolaños, eds. Manila 2012     
  • pdf icon ‘Pleasure as Genesis’. Ancient Philosophy 31 (2011): 73-94  
  • pdf icon ‘Embodying Intelligence (?): Plants in Plato’s Timaeus’. Phronesis 55 (2010): 281-303
  • pdf icon ‘Can You Seek the Answer to this Question?’ [with Jonardon Ganeri]. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2010): 571-594 (Meno’s Paradox in India)
  •  ‘Nevertheless: the Philosophical Significance of the Questions posed at Philebus 15b’. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 12 (2009): 103-129
  • pdf icon ‘Embodying Intelligence: Animals and Us in Plato’s Timaeus’, in Platonism and Forms of Intelligence, edited by Marie-Elise Zovko. Berlin: Academie Verlag 2008: 39-56
  • pdf icon ‘Putting the Philebus’ Indispensable Method to Use’. Ancient Philosophy 27 (2007): 303-322
  • link icon design sherice ‘Hedonistic Persons: The Good Man Argument in Plato’s Philebus’. British Journal of the History of Philosophy 14/1 (2006): 5-26
  • pdf icon ‘Questioning Kṛṣṇa’s Kantianism’. Conceptions of Virtue East and West. Chong Kim Chong & Yuli Liu, eds. Marshall Cavendish Academic. Singapore 2005: 80-99
  • ‘Phileban Gods’. Ancient Philosophy 23 (2003): 93-111

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(If you are interested in reading any of the texts below, please contact Dr. Carpenter via email.)

  • ‘Explanation or Insight? Competing Transformative Epistemic Ideals’, for Buddhist-Platonist Dialogues
  • ‘Candrakīrti’s Insight, Śāntideva’s Practical Wisdom’
  • ‘On the Use and Misuse of Moral Exemplars for Self-Improvement’
  • ‘Plato on Restricting Knowledge to Make Room for Belief’
  • ‘Pleasure as Temptress, Pleasure as Complex’ (under review)

selected talks test

  • Impersonal Idealism: A Buddhist-Platonist Alternative’, and ‘Paradigms of Ideal Knowledge: Perception or Explanation?’; LMU, Munich, December 2022
  • Explanation or Insight? Competing Buddhist and Platonic Ideals of Knowledge and its Effects’, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, November 2022
  • Knowledge and Liberation: What Kind of Knowing May Set You Free?’, University of Birmingham, Global Philosophy & Religion Project, October 2022
  • The Effects of Knowledge on the Soul: A Buddhist-Platonist Exchange’, University of Oxford, October 2022
  • The Importance of Being Autologezomenos: Accounts and Accountability in Plato’s Republic’, Stanford-Tartu Workshop in Ancient Philosophy; Tartu, 2-4 June 2022
  • ‘On the Use and Misuse of Moral Exemplars for Self-Improvement’, workshop on Crafting Character: The Skill to Shape Second Nature, John Jay College, New York City, May 2022
  • ‘Impersonal Idealism: A Buddhist-Platonist Alternative’, Leiden, April 2022
  • ‘Epistemic Ideals and Moral Transformation’, University of British Columbia, April 2022
  • ‘Knowing and Goodness: A Buddhist-Platonist Alternative’, Green College (UBC), March 2022
  • ‘Ethics of Atomism’, Center for the Ancient Mediterranean, Columbia University, February 2022
  • ‘Epistemic Ideals and Moral Transformation’, Ashoka University, February 2022
  • ‘Candrakīrti’s Insight, Śāntideva’s Practical Wisdom: Two Madhyamaka Approaches to Awakening’, Institute for Religion & Philosophy (Boston University), Nov. 2021
  • ‘Ethics of Atomism in Democritus and Vasubandhu’, University of Virginia, Nov. 2020
  • ‘Phenomenological Ethics and Moral Development’, Beyond Confines: Integrating Science, Consciousness, and Society, Mind & Life Association, Fürstenfeldbruck, 25-27 Oct 2019
  • ‘Accounts and Accountability: The Importance of Being Autologoi’, Power and Knowledge: Autonomy and Self-Knowledge in Plato and Beyond. Uppsala, May 2019
  • ‘Ethical Ambitions and their Formations of Character – Buddhists and Platonists’, Australasian Association of Buddhist Studies, Deakin University, Melbourne, 7-9 November 2018
  • ‘Anger in Buddhaghosa and Śāntideva’, Meeting of the AAR, Denver, November 2018
  • ‘Ethics of Atomism’, Boston University, 15 November 2018
  • ‘Globalising Liberal Arts Education: The Yale-NUS Model’, Bard-Berlin, September 2018
  • ‘The Integrity of Plato’s Socrates’, Bard-Berlin, September 2018
  • ‘ ‘and lead me not into temptation’: the Power and the Glory of the Good, Plato’s Pleasures: New Perspectives, King’s College London, August 2018
  • ‘Function and the Function of the Taxonomy of Skills in Plato’s Statesman 287b-290a’, Plato Dialogue Project, Oslo, August 2018
  • ‘The Transparent Minds of Moral Exemplars’, Beacon Project, Wake Forest, NC, June 2018
  • The Beauty of Plato’s Truth’, Einstein Forum Anniversary Conf., Truth & Beauty, Potsdam, June 2018
  • ‘‘Thou Art The Man’: Owning and Owning Up; Knowing Actions as Your Own’, NEH Summer Institute on Self-Knowledge, May 2018
  • ‘Plato: the Value of Self-Knowledge’, NEH Summer Institute on Self-Knowledge, May 2018
  • ‘The Ethics of Atomism and the Skepticism that Wasn’t’, Uppsala, December 2017
  • ‘Ethics of Atomism and Skepticism’, Skepticism and Buddhism, Hamburg, November 2017
  • ‘Attention as a Means of Self-Dissolution and Reformation’, Reading, April 2017
  • ‘Vasubandhu’s Atomism’, Durham, May 2017
  • ‘Desire, the Self, and the Good’, Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, St. Mary’s University, London, 11 May 2016
  • ‘Socrates’ Integrity’, Portraits of Integrity conference, IAS-University of Durham, 11 Dec. 2015
  • pdf icon ‘Philosophy as a Moral Discipline’, York Humanist Society, 10 December 2015.
  • ‘The Saṁmitīyas and the Case of the Missing Who: A Buddhist Whodunit?’, in The Return of Consciousness – A New Science on Ancient Questions; Avesta, Sweden, June 2015
  • audio icon design sherice ‘The Good Life’, London School of Economics, Forum for European Philosophy, 12 May 2015
  • ‘Restricting Knowledge to Make Room for Belief’, Stirling, 25 Sept. 2014
  • audio icon design sherice ‘Ethics of Substance’, lead symposiast at the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, Cambridge, July 2014
  • audio icon design sherice ‘Keeping One’s Bearings in World Gone Mad’, Saints & Madmen: Integrity at its Limits. Integrity Project Conference co-hosted with the Einstein Forum (Berlin/Potsdam), June 2014.
  • pdf icon ‘Creating the Place to Speak and Act for the Sake of the Fine’, Hannah Arendt: A One-Day Symposium, University of York 13 March 2013
  • ‘Ranking Knowledges and the Form of Knowledge’, Yale University, April 2012
  • ‘Aiming at Happiness and the Good’, Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, Oxford, November 2011
  • ‘Eliminating Anger, Facing Injustice in Stoic and Buddhist Ethics’, La Trobe University, Melbourne, August 2011
  • ‘Substantial Freedom or Freedom from Substance?’, International Philosophy Colloquium, Evian, July 2011
  • link icon design sherice ‘Relinquishing Control: The Ethics of Accepting Suffering’, Making Sense of Suffering. Prague, November 2010
  • ‘Animals With Human Souls, Animals In Human Souls’, Menschen, Tiere, Automaten: Die Debatte über die Tierseele. Munich (LMU), July 2010
  • ‘The Constructed Good’, part of the panel ‘The Good Delusion’. How the Light Gets InFestival of Philosophy. Hay-on-Wye, May 2010
  • ‘Menschenbilder in Platon und Buddhismus’. Menschenbilder Conferenz, Bamberg, October 2009
  • link icon design sherice ‘Ethics in Flux: Heracliteanism in Plato and the Indian Buddhist Philosophers’. Einstein Forum. Berlin (Potsdam). November 2008
  • ‘Reasoning About the Good: What Sort of Eudaimonist is Plato?’ Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition. Trinity College, Dublin. December 2007
  • ‘On the Moral Injunction “Know Thyself”’. International Congress on Person and Society. Braga, Portugal. November 2005
  • ‘Roles, Rules and the Irreducibly Particular in Stoic Moral Thought’. Ancient and Medieval Philosophy Conference. Fordham University, NYC. October 2004.