Professor Geoffrey Ashton

Geoffrey Ashton

Associate Professor

Department Chair
Full-Time Faculty
Kalmanovitz Hall 388


Professor Geoff Ashton joined the Department of Philosophy at USF from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he also held an appointment as Assistant Professor of Asian Philosophy. Prof. Ashton has studied Sanskrit, Thai, and Spanish, and conducted research at numerous institutions of higher learning abroad (twice as a Fulbright scholar), including Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi, India), Deccan College (Pune, India), the Jñāna-Pravaha Institute (Varanasi, India), Chiang Mai University (Chiang Mai, Thailand), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand), and La Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Madrid, Spain). He has also been invited to present his research in India, Thailand, China, Singapore, Austria, Iceland, Poland, and England. 

He has authored numerous articles, book chapters, and essays on Indian Philosophy, Buddhist Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Comparative Ethics, and Comparative Aesthetics. He currently has three main research agendas: Indian Philosophy of Religion, Buddhist Philosophy and Comparative Ethics, and Comparative Aesthetics. 

Geoff is currently revising a pair of books on Samkhya philosophy of nature. The first manuscript is titled "Whose Suffering? Whose Freedom? A Phenomenological Reconstruction of Sāṃkhya Naturalism," and should be completed by the end of this coming summer. Together, these research projects offer a philosophical interpretation of the Sāṃkhya Kārikā as a phenomenology of natural life. It critiques various modern scientific assumptions toward nature that underlie standard readings of the Sāṃkhya Kārikā. In place of this, Geoff’s research turns to the following three philosophies of “life” with a view to reconsidering how the Sāṃkhya Kārikā understands the natural world, human life, and the interrelation between the two: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s theory of organics, José Ortega y Gasset’s existential phenomenology of life, and Karl von Uexkull's biosemiotics. 

A second and on-going research agenda draws upon Geoff’s background in Buddhist philosophy, Thai Studies, and Thai language. Tentatively titled, “From No-Self to Social Agency: A Thai Buddhist Approach to Social Engagement,” this project examines the theoretical underpinnings and practical manifestations of a Thai Buddhist vision of social engagement. Among other funding agencies, this project has been supported by “The Project of Empowering Network for International Thai Studies” (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand). 

A third research agenda explores cultural and disciplinary variation in thinking through mimesis (Sanskrit: anukṛti). Sponsored by the Fulbright Scholar Program, this project draws upon debates within Indian aesthetics, art history, postcolonial theories of art, and Western mimetic theory, in order to argue that Indian philosophers of art frequently rejected mimesis as an artistic ideal due to its perceived implications for a dualistic metaphysics.

Research Areas

  • Indian Philosophy
  • Buddhist Philosophy
  • East-South Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Ethics
  • Aesthetics


  • PhD, Philosophy (Asian and Comparative Philosophy), University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
  • MA, Philosophy (Indian Philosophy), University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
  • MA, South Asian Languages and Civilizations (Sanskrit, Indian Aesthetics), University of Chicago

Prior Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (2012-2017)
  • Visiting Johnston Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Whitman College (2011-2012)

Awards & Distinctions

  • Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award, 2015-2017

Selected Publications

  • Ashton, G. (under review) Whose Suffering? Whose Freedom? A Phenomenological Reconstruction of the Philosophy of the Sāṃkhya Kārikā. New York: SUNY.

  • Ashton, G. (forthcoming). “Misreading Mimesis in the Abhinavabhāratī: The Theological Basis of Abhinavagupta’s Critique of Anukaraṇa-Vāda.” In Comparative Aesthetics in a Contemporary Frame, ed. Parul Dave-Mukherji.

  • Ashton, G. (forthcoming). “Divine Androgyny and the Play of Self-Recognition: Revisiting Some Issues in Gender Theory through an Un-orthodox Interpretation of Ardhanārīśvara.” In Gender and Indian Philosophy, ed. Veena Howard. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

  • Ashton, G. and Tanner, S. (2016). “From Puzzling Pleasures to Moral Practices: Aristotle and Abhinavagupta on the Aesthetics and Ethics of Tragedy.” Philosophy East and West, 66(1), 1-23.

  • Ashton, G. (2016). “Renewed Optimism in Persons through South-East Comparative Philosophy: Review of Douglas L. Berger’s, Encounters of Mind: Luminosity and Personhood in Indian and Chinese Thought.” Journal of World Philosophies 1, 1-2.

  • Ashton, G. (2015). “Losing my Mind and Loving Mosquitoes, Crickets, and other Jungle Inhabitants: Reflections on Field Research and its Frustrations at a Buddhist Meditation Retreat in Southern Thailand.” In At Home and In the Field: Ethnographic Encounters in Asia and the Pacific Islands, eds. Suzanne S. Finney, Mary Mostafanezhad, Guido Carlo Pigliasco, Forrest Wade Young, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 345-355.

  • Ashton, G. (2015). “Amor Fati and the Path of Devotion - Love Of Fate.” Europa and Middle East News, Institute for Science and Art, University of Vienna.

  • Ashton, G. (2014). “Imagining Oneself as the Avatāra: An Elaboration on Antonio de Nicolás’s Interpretation of the Bhagavad Gītā.” In Antonio de Nicolás: Poet of Eternal Return, ed. Christopher Key Chapple, Ahmedabad, India: Sriyogi Publications, 91-132.

  • Ashton, G. (2014). “Role-Ethics or Ethics of Role-Play? A Comparative Critical Analysis of the Ethics of Confucianism and the Bhagavad Gītā.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, 13, 1-21.

  • Ashton, G. (2014). “Christopher G. Framarin, Hinduism and Environmental Ethics: Law, Literature, and Philosophy.” Environmental Ethics, 36(3), 369-372.

  • Ashton, G. (2013). “The Role of Mindfulness Meditation and Aesthetic Virtue in the Transition from the Emptiness of Self to Social Engagement: Buddhadāsa’s Appropriation of D. T. Suzuki’s Theory of Buddhist Enlightenment.” Rian Thai, 6, 41-61.

  • Ashton, G. (2013). “The Soteriology of Role-Play in the Bhagavad Gītā.” Asian Philosophy: An International Journal of the Philosophical Traditions of the East, 23, 1-23.

  • Sarah A. Mattice, Geoffrey Ashton, and Joshua P. Kimber, eds. (2009). Cross-Currents 2007: Comparative Philosophy Today and Tomorrow, Newcastle, United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.