Philosophers such as John Dewey, Charles Peirce and William James are the founding fathers of Pragmatism in education. These influential thinkers rejected Idealistic education model and instead conceived of schools as institutions for practical goals. The curriculum is based on performing activities, history and geography, and scientific problem solving. Progressive politics is also taught to students. Students are encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to problem solving. The curriculum is not rigidly set. In contrast only the broad outline is provided within which a variety of course content could be accommodated. The teachers play the role of a mentor to students. There is no standardized evaluation of learning. Moreover, the process involves experimentation and learning through experience rather through concepts. Pragmatism also rejects Metaphysical Absolutes and Metaphysical Dualisms.
Pragmatism: Synthesis . . . Read More
The confrontation between Antigone and her uncle Creon (the ruler of Thebes) begins with the demise of her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices. Since Creon was on the side of Eteocles during the combat between the two brothers, he decrees to honor him in death. In sharp contrast he decrees that Polyneices be left rotting in the battle field sans a proper burial. This is the highest form of punishment in ancient Greek and its evocation is a measure of Creon’s hostility toward Polyneices. In Creon’s own view, what legitimizes his decree is his authority as the supreme ruler of Thebes. He performs very little moral deliberation before setting his order to execution.
But Polyneices’ beloved sister Antigone is a balanced, intellectual and humane person (as evidenced from allusions in the play). Her love for her brother impels her to bury him properly. Though this action would invoke the wrath of Creon and jeopardize her life, her humanity and love supersedes all . . . Read More
Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche are two important intellectuals whose thoughts are integral to the development of social thought in Europe and North America.
Immanuel Kant’s thoughts have enriched a wide variety of disciplines within humanities, including theology, political science and sociology. But Kant’s work does not fit easily into any particular disciplinary paradigm. Of late, Kant’s thoughts have regained eminence in the study of international politics. Contemporary proponents of Kant’s relevance to international politics espouse the view that democracy leads to peace. But this position contradicts the philosophic foundations of Kant’s works. Hence there is not straightforward account of how Kant’s works have influenced subsequent social thought. The infiltration of Kant’s ideas into later scholarship is at places overt and at others subtle. Neither is the influence uniform and unidirectional for contradictions abound. (Rossi, 2010, . . . Read More
From what I’ve understood of women’s oppression across ages, I would support a new feminist humanism in which would be based on ‘democratic reconstruction’. This way, we can avert ethnocentric mistakes about what it means to be human. In order to mitigate women’s oppression, one has to recognize how it is tied to other forms of oppression. For all women gender is at all times interlocked with other systems of oppression “depending on their race, class, sexuality, physical and mental abilities, religion, nationality, age, relation to children and so on.” (Grant, 1995, p. 56) It is futile to solve women’s subordination at the exclusion of various other forms of oppression. Hence a sound motto for social change would be ‘liberation of the self’ – a liberation that applies across various axis of oppression.
In my professional practice I would take a sceptical approach to dominant ideologies of culture in order to prevent oppression. Take say the ideology of . . . Read More
Almost every major discipline under the Humanities is strongly engaged in understanding the causes of human oppression and offering solutions for its alleviation. Major fields of scholarly inquiry, including psychology, sociology, politics, philosophy, literature and linguistics, have a strong focus on the issue of human oppression.
Imperialism is often condemned for its inherently oppressive effects on the subjects of the colonies. In the field of postcolonial theory, scholars such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Edward Said have expressed the far-reaching negative consequences of imperialism on human welfare. In her seminal essay titled ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ Spivak questions the idea of the colonial ‘subject’. She criticizes European intellectuals for their presumption in ‘knowing’ the ‘other’, and in the manner in which they construct narratives of the oppressed. Through this “act of epistemic knowing/violence, the essentialization of the other . . . Read More
In light of our discussion about Buddhism and medical ethics, and the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai lama, and the other examples of Socially Engaged Buddhism in the book, how do you feel about Socially Engaged Buddhism? Is it a philosophical contradiction? Why?
Far from being a novel offshoot of Buddhist practice, Socially Engaged Buddhism is the proper approach to take. In the previous centuries, monks and monasteries were cut-off from the mainstream social, cultural and political spheres. As a result, worldly affairs continued to be rife with corruption, greed, hatred and delusion. Buddhist religious leaders were solely focused on contemplation, meditation and spiritual progress. What inputs they offered to society came in the form of Dharma talks, individual advice, guidance, etc. But this proved ineffective in terms of changing the collective consciousness of humanity as a whole, beset as it is by vices and base natural tendencies. . . . Read More
The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are fundamental to Buddhist philosophy. The Four Noble Truths concern themselves with the issue of suffering. It was recognized by Gautam Buddha that suffering is integral to the experience of quotidian life. Human feelings and emotions such as anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, longing, etc are various manifestations of suffering. The acknowledgement of this fundamental fact of existence is the first of the four noble truths. The second noble truth identifies the sources and processes through with suffering arise. Mostly, it is human desires and attachments which are at founts for suffering. The third noble truth recognizes that suffering is not inevitable and that it could be successfully overcome. The fourth noble truth goes is an elaboration on the methods, techniques, attitudes and behaviors through which suffering could be made to cease. Indeed, the Eightfold Path can be seen as an extension of the fourth noble . . . Read More
There are many themes in Candide which resonate with a contemporary audience. One of the recurrent attacks in the book has been against religious institutions and the politico-cultural power wielded by them. Although Voltaire was a deist, he did not espouse the view of the Optimists who believed that we inhabit a perfect world in which all events happen for the good. Voltaire found this precept highly problematic, especially viewed in light of major catastrophes to have hit Europe in the decade preceding the conception of Candide. It is fair to claim that religious superstition is rife in many parts of the world even today. Indeed, and ironically, much of conflict between groups of humans has religion at its base. Currently, the ongoing War on Terror operation between the West and the Islamic fundamentalist groups can be studied as a continuation of the ancient Crusades. To this extent the military-militant confrontation can be interpreted as a veiled . . . Read More
- What is the thesis (the central idea or main point)?
Richard Dawkins’ main argument is that the forces of evolution give an illusion of deliberate design, whereas in truth, they were shaped by gradual and random mutations sifted by the filters of natural selection.
- What are the main arguments made in supporting the thesis?
Drawing on the analogy of the watchmaker by William Paley, Dawkins produces his polemic by systematically dismantling the theory by design as applicable to life forms on earth. Dawkins shows that random mutations at the level of the DNA, when filtered and selected under the process of natural selection, gives rise to sophisticated and specialized species. His main argument is that there is no need whatsoever for invoking divine intervention in explaining variety and magnificence of life on earth.
- What are the important implications of the author’s position?
The most . . . Read More
- What is the thesis (the central idea or main point?)
William Paley’s concept of Natural Theology argues for a synthesis between laws of nature and God. Natural Theology claims that the laws of the natural world are designed and made operant by the Divinity. It is this divine hand at work which accounts for the stability and order in the cosmos.
- What are the main arguments made in supporting the thesis?
Paley was not only a theologian but also a brilliant lawyer. His training as a lawyer is put to rigorous use in constructing his arguments. The grand thesis of Natural Theology is supported by numerous examples from geology, cosmology and the natural world. For example, in the case of a wrist watch, there is a clear purpose as well as precision behind its design. This is circumstantial evidence for a Creator, in this case of the watchmaker. There are numerous similar examples offered by Paley to support his . . . Read More