Back to listSep 21, 2012

Lou Marinoff Explores Themes From "The Inner Philosopher" at Ikeda Center Event

Dr. MarinoffDr. Marinoff

On September 21, the Ikeda Center of Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, celebrated the publication of a new dialogue, The Inner Philosopher: Conversations on Philosophy's Transformative Power, between Lou Marinoff, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the City College of New York, and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. Dr. Marinoff, who is also the founding president of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, gave a talk at the event in which he reflected on the book's creation and offered a vision of philosophy based on commitment to both the alleviation of suffering and the practicing of virtues.

ikeda center event

Introducing the book's core themes, Dr. Marinoff drew comparisons and made connections between the great Western philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, and the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism and their respective notions of virtue and freedom. Another topic central to the dialogue is the nature of healing and humanistic responses to suffering.

Dr. Marinoff emphasized that focusing on our positive capacities is vital in an age when we suffer from an excess of what he calls "lifestyle maladies." He shared Mr. Ikeda's observation from the dialogue that "though our society is awash with material goods, the human spirit is being progressively impoverished." This "paradox of wellbeing," said Dr. Marinoff, results in a range of problems, including eating, anxiety, attention deficit, and dissociative disorders. He spoke about the role of individual philosophers in providing a way of perceiving and acting upon one's own innate potential for virtue, serenity or awakening.

Dr. Marinoff concluded his presentation with a consideration of two creative, humanistic responses to suffering as demonstrated by Bach and Beethoven. Referring to the conclusion of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Dr. Marinoff commented, "There is something fundamentally human about us that unites us."

For a full report of Dr. Marinoff's lecture, please visit

[Adapted from a report from the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue; photos courtesy of Katherine Doerner]