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Dr Matthew Neale

Dr Matthew Neale





Antidogmatic argumentation

Vajrayāna (tantric Buddhism)


I initially read Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge. In the course of four years' subsequent doctoral research there in the evolution of social behaviour, I was struck by the capacity of models in behavioural ecology to undermine received beliefs about the agency of the self and organisms' individuality. This encouraged me to explore deconstructive systems more extensively.

I travelled widely and studied Sufism in Egypt and Buddhism according to the traditional Tibetan Buddhist philosophical syllabus at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute at the Ka-Nying Shedrub-Ling Monastery in Bauddhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal from 2001 to 2010.

I returned to the UK to research a book about Hellenic Pyrrhonism and its relation to Buddhism. This research also formed the basis for a DPhil dissertation at Oxford University.

Research Interests

The Greek sage Pyrrho of Elis, contemporary of Aristotle and subsequently figurehead for the Pyrrhonean or Skeptik ("Inspective") school, was one of a number of Alexander the Great's entourage during his expeditions through India who received instruction from Indian sages before returning to Greece.

There is currently a flourishing of interest in Buddhism-Pyrrhonism parallels. Among recent studies are several demonstrating that grounding in Madhyamaka (the Buddhist school founded by Nagarjuna), for example, reveals and illuminates the import and insights of hitherto poorly understood Pyrrhonean arguments.

I have been investigating what arguments in Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism and Against Dogmatists (i.e. Against Logicians, Against Ethicists and Against Physicists) are to be found in the Madhyamaka treatises and related Buddhist texts, with a view to deciding what conclusions can be drawn from the doctrinal, linguistic and historical evidence for interactions between the Pyrrhonean school and the Madhyamaka (and other Buddhist) schools.

I am currently also exploring the transmission of antidogmatic discourse and esoteric practices from general and Tantric Buddhism to Islamic Sufism during the Islamisation of the ancient Buddhist kingdoms of what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan and North India.

More generally I am interested in antidogmatic and deconstructive projects in Buddhism, Greek philosophy, Islam, behavioural ecology, behavioural economics, linguistics and psychology; Tantric Buddhism and Sufism; Islamic-Buddhist relations; and Silk Road religions.

Once my current book projects are complete I intend to undertake the traditional three-year Tibetan Buddhist mind-training retreat.



B16 (Life and thought of religious Hinduism and Buddhism)

Other Professional Activities

I am involved in projects to increase communication throughout the university and beyond among those researching, teaching and studying Buddhism and subjects with which Buddhism engages.

I am collaborating in various projects to translate Buddhist texts into Arabic and create online Buddhist technical vocabulary databases in Arabic.

Key Publications

Saber Uddiyan (pen name). Kalama Sutta: The Rediscovery of Conscience. 2010. Vajra Publications

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Vacancy: Fixed Term Research Associate in Theology and Science

Oct 12, 2016

The Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge wishes to appoint a Research Associate to this project on Theology and Science.

Festival of Ideas - The New Cambridge Mosque Panel Discussion

Oct 07, 2016

As part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Cambridge Inter-faith Programme is a hosting a panel discussion event on Saturday 22nd October.

Changes to fines

Oct 01, 2016

From 3 October 2016, fines for overdue books will change. Items which are overdue and requested by another reader will acrue £1 per item per day (before 20p). Items which are overdue, but not requested by someone else, will acrue fines at 10p per item per day (before 20p).

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