James Giles graduated from Point Grey Secondary School in Vancouver and studied at the University of British Columbia and the University of Edinburgh, where he gained a PhD in philosophy. He is external associate professor of psychology at Roskilde University and lecturer in the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. In addition to teaching at UBC and Edinburgh, he has also held appointments at other universities in the UK, Denmark, Australia, Guam, and Hawaii. James Giles is also a musician and singer-songwriter. His music can be listened to here.
The purpose of Giles' work is to create a philosophical psychology that explains the core features of the human condition. The unifying theme in his work is the fundamental role that human awareness plays in that condition. Giles' research ranges over metaphysics, ethics, the philosophy of perception, personal identity, the self, sexual desire, sexual attraction, romantic love, friendship, human relationships, evolutionary theory, and non-Western philosophy. He has argued for an experiential account of the material world and the non-existence of a persisting self, describing self-awareness as the awareness of a constructed self-image.
Giles is well-known as a scholar of Asian and comparative philosophy, working in the areas of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian thought, with particular interests in Buddhist and Daoist ethics and metaphysics. His interpretations of the Buddhist doctrine of no-self and Buddhist philosophy are widely cited. He also offers a new understanding of Daoism as an account of the metaphysics of awareness and its relation to ethics, arguing that the ancient Daoists have much to offer contemporary philosophy.
Author of several works, Giles is typically interdisciplinary and intercultural in his research, drawing on such areas as psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and biology, while exploring their expression in different cultures. Only through such an approach, argues Giles, can we hope to understand the human condition.
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