Looking through the eyes of others

Chiara Robbiano

How can a medieval Japanese philosopher help us understand both autistic and neurotypical others?

  • 13:00-13:45
Zaal: KF Hein Foyer
Language: English

We tend to put ourselves in the centre of the universe. That makes us deaf for the voices of others. The Japanese medieval philosopher Dōgen wrote about the self, which is not isolated, but a node in a network, interdependent with other beings. Robbiano distilled from his philosophy the concept of ‘decentring’, which we may use as a strategy to connect with people who experience the world in a way that differs from ours. For example, for those regarded as neurotypical, it might be a challenge to connect with people with autism: they might approach them as an ‘object’: someone they can categorize, educate, help. How can we use Dōgen’s insights to listen to others and look through their eyes?  

Dr Chiara Robbiano (UU) will explain decentring and show us a way how to try it. What would it mean for society if we would all practice to decentre?

Chiara Robbiano is Associate professor of philosophy at University College Utrecht (Utrecht University) and chair of the UCU diversity committee. With a background in Ancient Greek Philosophy, she is now publishing on cross-cultural philosophy. In January 2023, her book ‘Key Concepts in World Philosophies. A toolkit for philosophers’ was released. (This is an extract that includes her “Valuing Diversity” essay). She is also involved in projects promoting dialogue and reflection in the broader public, such as the TV series Food For Thought.