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Philosophy At Delhi University: A Tool of Personal and Professional Transformation

Philosophy - just like any other academic discipline - can make one’s career and social prospects highly desirable since it gives to the students an excellent opportunity to think deeply about all big and small affairs of their lives, families, societies, and future careers.

Dr Krishna Mani Pathak | News18 Specials

Updated:June 19, 2018, 1:40 PM IST
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Philosophy At Delhi University: A Tool of Personal and Professional Transformation
Logo of the University of Delhi.
The process of admission to undergraduate and graduate courses in the university of Delhi and its colleges has just begun, opening a new realm of academic excitement, creativity, and intellectual pursuit for the young prospective minds from all corners of the country. The biggest question, however, the students must have had faced while filling out their online registration forms and are now facing at the time of admission is whether they should study a completely new subject like philosophy or should continue with one of their class 10 or 12 subjects - sociology, physics, commerce, literature or music. The question is meaningful and contextually important since there is a public perception in India that philosophy is a discipline that neither helps the students get jobs nor does it make any positive impression in the society. So, what do the students do? Here are some enlightening thoughts and facts about why studying philosophy has its own rewards and advantages:

WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?

“Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder” is what Plato – the famous Greek philosopher – once said more than two thousand years ago to emphasize the origin of philosophy, which unlike other academic disciplines is not only an intellectual practice but also a process of learning to acquire all-pervading knowledge with maximum utilization of one’s mind. Philosophy encompasses the whole range of knowledge about the Life, the world, the Truth, the Essence, the Existence, the Reality, and a set of values. It’s a practice of how to organize our thoughts in a most coherent manner and present them to the world in a logically non-fallacious form. It’s a discipline that deals with a set of larger questions of metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, logic and religion among many other branches of philosophy.

What is the form of correct reasoning? What is life and what is it that makes (human) life meaningful? What is after life? Wherein does Human essence lie? What is morality and where does it come from? What makes us ethically responsible towards others and sometimes towards ourselves? Does God exist, and in what form? Is there another world beyond this? What is the role of human language? – are some of those bigger questions a philosophy student has to deliberate upon throughout his/her honours course at UG level and further at PG level if she continues her study in philosophy. Philosophy, thus, plunges the students into the realm of religion, rational thinking, spirituality, and ethical living, and is proven to be the most effective tool of personal and professional transformation.

WHAT ONE GAINS FROM PHILOSOPHY?

Studying philosophy in today’s time is much more than what it is conventionally believed to be simply a domain of conceptual deliberations. It is just like any other academic discipline that can make one’s career and social prospects highly desirable since it gives to the students an excellent opportunity to think deeply about all big and small affairs of their lives, families, societies, and future careers. Philosophy helps them get equipped with intellectual skills and significant methods of enquiry, critical analysis, argumentation, and examinations of cases and situations. It also helps the students develop a variety of academic skills required for persuasive writing, presentations, and oral and written communication for great success in both their personal and professional domains, improving their perspectives on various subject matters. Although, students’ intake in philosophy happens to be very low and sometimes discouraging in universities other than a few like Delhi university and Allahabad university, however philosophy on a more realistic note is no more a marginalized discipline in India since it has been proven to be a subject of high score in Indian Civil Services and State-Level examinations. With an honours degree in philosophy that gives a good foundation to students’ critical thinking and increases their analytical capacities, students are now doing well in every field of business, administration, law, politics, and social welfare.

So, it is a misperception that philosophy is not a job-oriented course; rather we can say that philosophy develops a holistic approach towards everything we perceive, imagine, and conceptually design. Students who take up a course in philosophy learn new ways of thinking and effective expression in their language of command. These creative features make philosophy unique and open many new avenues to philosophy students and researchers. A course in philosophy in this sense greatly contributes to the general good of the students and the society at large.

WHERE TO STUDY PHILOSOPHY?

Many Indian universities and colleges offer both UG, PG and Doctoral courses in philosophy and have learned faculty with a wide range of expertise, however, it is factually correct to say that Delhi University is a hub of philosophy scholars simply because Delhi university and its colleges admit the largest number of students to these philosophy courses each year. More than a dozen of Delhi university colleges, namely, Hindu College, St. Stephens College, Daulat Ram College, Miranda House, Ramanujan College, Zakir Husain College, Kamla Nehru College, Gargi College, Lady Sri Ram College, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College, Indra Prastha College, and JDM College offer an honours course in philosophy whereas many other colleges offer philosophy as a general elective to students of other courses. The parent department of philosophy located in Arts Faculty in North Campus of Delhi university offers regular courses in MA, MPhil, and PhD. These colleges along with the parent department have expert faculty in philosophy with focussed teaching and research experience of many years. This makes Delhi university a desired destination for many philosophy takers in the country. Even it is also a favourite academic institution for international students interested in doing a course in philosophy.

Although some IITs also offer few courses in philosophy to students of science, engineering and technology, however, neither do they offer any full-fledged philosophy honours course to UG students nor a full-fledged MA or MPhil course. Their doctoral courses in philosophy are mostly interdisciplinary with topics related to other departments of humanities and social sciences such as sociology, literature, and economics. This is the sole reason why philosophy at IITs has failed to gain academic popularity. On the other hand, students with high percentage of cut off marks come from different corners of India to join a philosophy course at Delhi University.

(The author teaches philosophy at Hindu College, DU)

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