It is indeed a matter of great pleasure that the ninth issue of the Journal of the Department of Philosophy, University of North Bengal, entitled: Philosophical Papers is ready for its publication. For various reasons there was some delay in its preparation. During the course of its preparation all members of the Editorial Board and all the faculty members of this Department helped immensely and thereby tied us with our indebtedness to them. Various authorities of the University also facilitated in a number of ways by providing logistics. We owe our gratitude to them. Without the active help and cooperation of the University Press, it would not have been possible to complete the work. We must thank them for all that they have done. We also thank the contributors for agreeing to contribute their research papers in our annual Departmental journal. The dialogue between the skeptics and the non-skeptics has been continuing since Pyrrho in western tradition. Skeptical tradition is also found in Chinese and Indian traditions. The challenges thrown by skepticism have shaped the discussion on epistemology in all these traditions. Theories have been developed to meet these challenges. It is needless to say that in modern and contemporary philosophy we still find deliberations on skepticism. Such is the power of it. Ram C. Majhi in his research article ‘Dretske’s Theory of Relevant Alternatives from a Skeptical Position’ shows the importance of skepticism in philosophy and refers to Dretske’s theory of relevant alternatives to examine if it can meet the skeptical challenge that knowledge of external world is not possible. Dretske believes that his theory does meet the challenge. However, Dr. Majhi is of the opinion that the theory of Dretske was developed ignoring the spirit of skepticism espoused by philosophers such as Sextus Empiricus, Chuang Tzu, Nagarjuna and Nietzsche. Logic has been the focal point of both Indian and Western philosophy, and no student of philosophy can overlook their obvious similarities as well as their differences. Attempts have been made to reformulate Indian logic into Aristotelian schema and first-order predicate calculus. Ruchira Majumdar presents a brief sketch of Navya-Nyāya logic, which is the most prominent among the Indian logical systems in general, and then she compares it to traditional the Western logic of Aristotle. Finally, she has made an effort to reconstruct the Navya-Nyāya logic into modern symbolic logic. The objection against philosophy is that philosophy has nothing to do with ensuring the progress and development of our life and society. When some criticize philosophy in this way, they, actually, fail to understand the meaning of life and society. They also commit a blunder in understanding the meaning of the terms ‘progress’ and ‘development’ which are not synonymous. In fact, development or upliftment of our life and society does not only mean the material development, like financial or technological upliftment, it also includes the spiritual progress. Nirmal Kumar Roy tries to show that the people who object have seen only the one half of the whole truth and the other half has been overlooked by him. He refers to the philosophical thinking of Socrates, Rabindranath, Gandhi, Vivekananda and Indian ethical perspective especially, the Vedanta tradition which promote that philosophy, in no way, is less important than science and technology in our practical life. Benu Lal Dhar in his scholarly article entitled ‘Some Contemporary Philosophical Theories of Human Rights: A Review’ mainly focuses on the human rights theories of T. H. Green, Margaret MacDonald, Carl Wellman and Joel Feinberg. He delineates at length various dimensions of human rights theory which significantly contributed in understanding human rights in contemporary times. He shows that Green and MacDonald developed their own theory in question by way of rejecting natural rights theory whereas rest two thinkers though not clearly repudiated natural right theory but they developed their theory independently of it. Dhar shows how Wellman conceived natural rights as ethical rights. He also pictured very beautifully the irreducible duality found in the concept of right that was recognized by Green and Feinberg. Kripke’s unsubstantiated claim that new riddle of induction is a form of rule-following skepticism, has prompted the question: Is new riddle of induction really a form of rule-following skepticism? In answering this question, Gopal Sahu argues that Goodman’s new riddle of induction poses a paradox of induction underlying the rule-following skepticism. The new riddle of induction on the face of it may not appear to be a version of rule-following skepticism. Sahu argued that Goodman had anticipated the rule-following skepticism and he formulated the paradox rule-following pertaining to induction. Kripke’s formulation of the rule-following skepticism raises the issue in the generalization of the future behaviour from the past observation, the problem of meaning and justification and the problem of other minds. Goodman in his formulation of the paradox makes use of the rule-following consideration in generalizing observed from unobserved. The inductive inference similar to the functions of rules acts as the normative-constraints over infinite number of projections of the predicates. The possibility of the same evidence statement giving rise to incompatible hypotheses is similar to that of the multiple interpretations of the rules, is the basis of both the new riddle of induction and rule-following skepticism. Thus, Gopal Sahu substantiates Kripke’s claim in answering the question in affirmative. Perception is the most elementary and fundamental source of knowledge. To the ordinary mind, it is so simple and reliable that it presents no problem at all. We generally believe that our judgment based on perception must be true. Even some logicians and philosophers uphold the common sense view that perception is the ultimate ground of all knowledge and there is no room for doubting perceptual judgment. Though there are several problems in perception or the evidence of perception. The perception of an object takes place in certain space and time. But when we consider the perception of time, several problems may arise and Samar Kumar Mandal in his scholarly article entitled ‘The Problem of Time-Consciousness: Kant and Husserl’ explores the problems relating to perception which is regarded as the most reliable source of knowledge. While discussing this issue he concentrates mainly on two stalwarts of European continent - Kant and Husserl. The issue is so vital that it cuts across a number of branches such as metaphysical, epistemological and also philosophy of mind. He shows, while discussing the Kantian framework, how knowing consciousness itself occurs in time. In order to show that the ultimate subject of consciousness is non-temporal, a distinction is introduced between ordinary knowing consciousness and the ultimate knowing consciousness. This distinction however begs the question of relation between these two sorts of consciousness. Though Kant faces this problem Husserl’s framework could avert this difficulty. Ngaleknao Ramthing starts on Utilitarianism with an intention to identify as to how this theory corroborates with various ethical and social issues. The teleological view of morality links the idea of right action with the idea of consequence and the idea of consequence with the idea of good. It considers good as a central concept and defines other correlated concepts such as right, obligation, ought and duty in terms of it. Utilitarianism of all varieties is a teleological theory of ethics. It connects the idea of right action with the idea of general happiness. Ethical egoism is also a teleological theory. It connects the idea of right action with the idea of self-interest. Teleological theories are, thus, value-based theories. Jhadeswar Ghosh in his essay entitled: Naturalistic Approach to Epistemology, makes an attempt to defend W. V. O. Quine’s naturalistic approach to epistemology. Quest for the foundations of knowledge, i. e., effort to find out certain self-evident truths, is a persistent endeavour of philosophers and mainly of traditional epistemologists. It is this endeavour which gives rise to host of questions. For example, it is asked how we can corroborate our theory of the world by deriving it from self-evident truths. This and similar problems goaded philosophers to think in a radically different way and such an attitude is known as naturalistic trend in philosophy. This trend consists in, the author shows, understanding language through a natural process. While doing this Quine criticizes old-time epistemology and favours its replacement by natural science. Thus, Quine is of the view that it imperative to revise our traditional notion of knowledge. A revision of this makes way for naturalism. Although the Quineain stand did not go unchallenged, Ghosh is of the opinion that the raised objection can be met without much trouble. Swagata Ghosh in her essay ‘The Relation between Puruṣa and Prakṛiti: a Critical Analysis’ discusses the essence of Puruṣa and Prakṛiti, the two pillars of Sānkhya system. In addition to that she revisits relationship that holds between them. While doing this she critically examines the Sāmkhya metaphysics. A number of similes are given by the Sāmkhya philosophers to show the relationship between these two fundamental realities. These similes have been misinterpreted by their critics. The author did a great job by re-evaluating them. Sadek Ali in his ‘No-Sense theory of Proper Name: A Philosophical Reflection’ distinguishes between sense-theory and no-sense theory of proper names. Fregean theory has been termed sense-theory and Mill, Russell, Searle and Kripke’s theory have been termed no-sense theory. Taking a close look at no-sense theory he finds out difference between Searle and Russell’s view as he writes Searle’s descriptions stand for aspects or properties of an object, whereas logical proper names stand for the real objects. This is done on the basis of a metaphysical cleavage between objects and aspects of objects. The author discusses the arguments given in favour of no-sense theory of proper names and possible objections against these arguments. In the later portion of his essay he shows how the no-sense theory proponent ensures the referential foothold of reality whereas their opponent remained noncommittal regarding this referential foothold. Buddhiswar Haldar starts his paper with the questions how and when does an individual think his existence justified in our society? And how to remove the feeling of absence of tolerance from human beings: how a human being’s existence be justified in the society by performing good deeds or activities. Generally, the concept of existence is called sat and has been interpreted in various ways in Indian tradition. Therefore, it depends on the nature of Reality realized by an individual and hence the subjective elements in understanding the same cannot be ruled out. Haldar tries to show that Reality is of different types as realized by different individuals. Reality realized by the Buddhists is different from that of the Jainas and Advaitins and hence, the concept of being is also changing. Thus he shows an internal link among all the interpretations in a hermeneutic manner. Among the diversities a unique point admitted by all can be highlighted in favour of the concept of being. Bhaswati De in her ‘Justifying Physician-assisted Suicide’ deals with the vexing issue of euthanasia and shows that how the debate right from the time of its genesis plagued the human mind and the intransigent nature of the problem. It is on account of this that the problem resurfaced recurrently and the stands taken by the participators of the debate became a matter of interest. In order to clarify the concept of voluntary active euthanasia she first peels of the concept by distinguishing from other similar concepts and then explaining main arguments propounded by debators for and against physician-assisted suicide. She also explains the arguments of assisted suicide advocates who argue that human beings with terminal illness should have the right to end their suffering and die with dignity. On the other hand, the opponents of euthanasia fear about future possible abuse and thus become slippery slope argument relevant. The author also examines the ethicality of the above stands. She rightly states that the resolution of the issue demands a closer scrutiny of concepts such as ‘autonomy’, ‘self-determination’, ‘freedom’, ‘control’, etc. Nabnita Bhowal in ‘A Priori Knowledge’ shows the origin of this knowledge. She then explains the Kantian notion of a priori knowledge with its distinguishing marks. An analytical study has been done of this notion. At the end she shows how the Kripkean view of this notion along with combination of judgements that Kant thought not possible has posed a challenge to the Kantian view. Pankaj Kanti Sarkar in his ‘Some Critical Observations on Anthropocentrism’ makes an attempt to show how anthropocentrism, once regarded as a very popular approach is beset with problems. While discussing this he gives reference of both Western and Indian theories. He appears to have preferred non-anthropocentrism on the plea that it gives due dignity to all species of the biotic community. It is because every actor in the environment has equal moral worth and without the contribution of one the delicate balance of the environment cannot be maintained. Moreover, they all be given due dignity for their own sake and not for any human gain. Sarkar shows how the oriental tradition has given respect to this line of thinking from time immemorial. Since 1980, some philosophers of language have taken a turn toward the philosophy of mind, and some have engaged in metaphysical exploration of the relation or lack there of between language and reality. Davidson once says “I conclude that there is no such thing as a language, not if a language is anything like what many philosophers and linguists have supposed. There is therefore, no such thing to be learned, mastered or born with.” Interestingly, Martin Heidegger in the West and Bhartṛhari in the East have attempted to revive the relevance of metaphysical reality by means of language. Reality, for Heidegger, is Being and language, for Heidegger, is poetic in nature. Reality, for Bhartṛhari, is Brahman and language for Bhartṛhari is Śabda. While developing the relationship between language and reality Baishali Majumdar in her paper tries to show that both Heidegger and Bhartṛhari have emphasized not only on the metaphysical reality but also have conceived that language and reality are same. Pinki Das takes a look at the ancient spiritual outlook to the environment found in Indian literature mainly in Vedas, Upaniṣadas and Purāṇas. She shows how these ancient sources are abounding with environmental concerns. These texts preach us to view the relationship between man and nature as one of adoption and co-existence rather than mastery and subjection over nature. Thus, we find a tradition of worshipping nature in various forms even today. In order to explain her stand she takes clue from the definition of environment given in the Environment Protection Act, 1986. She underscores the need of following Vedic vision to live in harmony with environment. Feminism and Post-Colonial theory, to a certain extent have followed a ‘path of convergent evolution’. Both feminism and Post-Colonialism follow a similar theory in their defense of the marginalized ‘Other’, within the dominating repressive structures. These bodies of thought have attempted to invert the prevailing hierarchies of gender, culture and race. At one point of time a collision occurred between the third-world women and the imperial feminists. The third-world woman or in other words, the Post-Colonial woman has become a victim of both imperial ideology, native and foreign patriarchies. Thus the Post-Colonial or the third-world woman underwent double colonization. Keeping in mind, Mahalakshmi Bh.in her paper attempts to show about Post-Colonial gender consciousness in Salman Rushdie. It discusses both postcolonial theories as well as feminist perspective.
JYOTISH CHANDRA BASAK