TODAY -

Philosophy in Public Life

Priyadarshi Dutta *



Philosophy in Public Life
India's struggle for freedom was animated by humanistic philosophy
Gandhi invested the political struggle with quintessentially Indian ethos


The UNESCO instituted the World Philosophy Day in 2005 to be observed on the third Thursday of November. This year the day falls on November 17. What was the need for dedicating a day to a discipline believed to be divorced from reality? "Philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility, to take a step back and engage in a reasoned dialogue, to build together the solutions to challenges that are beyond our control", says Irina Bokova, the UNESCO's Director General. She adds "The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development".

Philosophy, the UNESCO maintains, belongs to everyone, everywhere, who cares for it. Therefore the international body leads the World Philosophy Day but does not own it. Philosophy might be viewed in two different ways. At one plane, it is speculative rather than empirical. It believes in discovering the intangible order of things.

It peaks into spirituality. It is for individual edification, satisfaction and understanding of things. But at another plane it is about engagement with human civilization. It is about moulding the future of civilization by discovery of some sublime principles. "My purpose is to exhibit philosophy as an integral part of social and political life: not as the isolated speculations of remarkable individuals", says Bertrand Russell in his classic A History of Western Philosophy.

This year is the 140th year of American Declaration of Independence (1776). The Declaration disavowed the divine right of kings, which George III, the then monarch of Britain clung to. It brought common people into the foreground of history. It is an argument in favour of democracy and equal rights for all citizens. Bereft of this uplifting philosophy, America's war of independence might have reduced itself to crude military campaign against the British.

The document, drafted by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), abounds in original political philosophy. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,
laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form,
as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

Our own struggle for freedom was animated by humanistic philosophy. "This was no crude demand for the ending of foreign rule and the elevation of self chosen leaders absolute authority, such as we have seen in other emergent countries. This was a genuine dialectic argument about the nature of freedom, the character of nationhood, the obligations of individuals to society", observed the late Oxford historian Hugh Tinker.

The intellectual discourse that marked freedom movement guided India's course to become an inclusive democracy. India was the first nation to implement universal adult franchise in 1951-52. Some were even skeptical of its wisdom, in a nation with literacy rate of meager 16 percent. But it could not have been any other system, given our freedom movement was fought in the name of everyone, high and low, rich and poor, men and women. The universal adult franchise, like democracy itself, was thus the outcome of the philosophy of freedom struggle.

It is a pity that India's ingenious schools of philosophy got caught in time warp. The Sankhya, Yoga, Nyay-Vaisesika, Purva Mimansa, Uttar Mimansa and Vedanta are considered six orthodox systems that upheld the Vedas. Buddhism and Jainism were considered heterodox systems. Though all of them were rich in content, they did not inspire any political evolution unlike what we see in the West. Therefore we see no political evolution in medieval India, which might have modernized India without British intervention.

But in the 19th century, in colonial India, Vedanta and Buddhism emanated as gospels humanity and universalism. Swami Vivekananda spoke of the glories of Vedanta and Buddhism in the West. They were projected as remedial answers to needs of the epoch. Yoga, originally a school of philosophy, is now fascinating the world. Instituting the 'International Day of Yoga' (June 21) in 2015 should reinforce our attention to Indian holistic philosophy.

Gandhi changed the rules of the game in politics. When he arrived on the scene a century ago, the national leaders were actually following western assumption of state, nationhood and political destiny. The more enthusiastic nationalists wanted to establish that Indians had a history of military and political superiority like the Europeans.

Those who gave an alternative perspective based on Indian ideas like Rabindranath Tagore and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy were not men of masses. It was Gandhi who with his ideas of Satyagraha, Ashram, Charkha, Khadi, Daridra-Narayan Seva, Swachhata (Cleanliness), Ram Rajya, Hartal, Sarvodaya, Prarthana (Daily Prayer), Go-Raksha (Cow Protection) invested the political struggle with quintessentially Indian ethos. He created a different political idiom. While one might disagree with his policies, one could not deny the uniqueness of his approach.

The debate whether philosophy is for self-elevation or service of mankind might remain. It could actually be both. It is only when we elevate ourselves can we create a better socio-political discourse. Philosophy can build a public discourse based on reason and empathy rather than force and strength.


* Priyadarshi Dutta wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was posted on November 18, 2016.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Irenna, Zeinorn, Ithoibi :: eMing
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • World Environment Day: Thoubal, Chandel
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Shifting tide
  • Sharmila calls on JK CM Mehbooba
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • World Environment Day at Sendra
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Two Shaft Handloom Weaver at Bishnupur
  • Career Guidance Workshop at Ukhrul
  • Rejoinder: on Vigilance Commissioner
  • Appointment of Vigilance Commissioner
  • Towards the brighter side of Technology.
  • MU in the news for wrong reasons
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Fear and Worry
  • Rongmei Scholars Association formed
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Deteriorating politics in Manipur University
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Devolution of power to PRIs
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Northeast: Issues at Stake #2
  • Thietham - A story of grit of a girl
  • Daylight robbery: Will the govt wait..
  • Date with Dy CM : Was it prudent?
  • On FIR against NPF President
  • Yepthomi - winner in Nagaland Lok Sabha
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • Bacteria, pathogenic bacteria..
  • Drafting Bill for Protection of Manipuri
  • Cry of a Dying River - 31 :: Poem
  • Char saal Modiji sarkar :: WJ
  • Imran Khan signed by FC Goa
  • The mental equation
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Course in Political Science at NEHU
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Kishon & Taka Tamut scaled Mt. Everest
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Governor's Taekwondo Cup: Gallery
  • Khangkhui Cave, Ukhrul #2: Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Sandrembi Cheishra :: Book Review
  • Ngasepam Nalini : State Akademi Award
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Kh Sanjita & Saikhom Mirabai :: Gallery
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS