Philosophical thought is an unavoidable part of human existence. Almost everyone has been puzzled from time immemorial by such essentially philosophical questions as “What is the meaning of life?” “Do we have any existence before we were born?” and “Is there any life after death?” Many people have some kind of philosophy in the sense of a personal point of view on life. Even a person who claims that considering philosophical questions is a waste of time is expressing what is important, worthwhile, or valuable. Thus those who reject all philosophy is in itself a kind of philosophizing. We express our deep sense of gratitude and happiness to present the 12th issue of the UGC enlisted journal “Philosophical Papers: Journal of the Department of Philosophy” before the philosophical community. It is also a great opportunity for the seekers of philosophy to put their thoughts before readers. The Department of Philosophy, University of North Bengal is proud to express that it provides the philosophical fraternity with a space for contributing papers. However, we regret the delay in publishing the present volume. Besides regular academic activities, the Department is also engaged in performing SAP (DRS-III) programmes under the guidance of Prof. Kantilal Das, Coordinator of SAP in Philosophy and an Unit of Psychological Counseling under the leadership of Prof. Jyotish Ch. Basak and Smt. Swagata Ghosh. We thank all of our colleagues and esteemed members of the Editorial Board to publish this volume possible. We are grateful to all the contributors, Prof. (Dr.) Somnath Ghosh, Honorable Vice-Chancellor, Finance Officer, University Grants Commission and the University Press, without whose cooperation, this endeavour would not have seen the light of the day. Perception is a direct source of knowledge of reality while other sources of knowledge lead us to reality, indirectly. In Perception we are face to face with reality whereas the other means provide only an indirect knowledge to us. As per literal meaning ''Perception" is the Pratyakṣa. The word ‘akṣa’ in ‘Pratyakṣa’ means the sense organ and ‘Prati’ means all the sense organ, therefore the word Pratyakṣa means the function of each of the sense organs in respect of their appropriate objects. All the Philosophical Schools call it to be the basic and fundamental source of knowledge. Perception is called Pratyakṣa because it takes place through the relation to the senses (akṣam akṣamprati). Tapan Kumar Chakraborty in his contribution ‘Is sense-object contact essential for perceptual knowledge’ elaborates the controversy on perception in a lucid manner. It is admitted by the Indian epistemologists that an object to be proved (meya) is dependent on the means of knowing (māna) i.e., mǡnǡdhînǡ meyasiddhih. Most of the treatises in Indian Philosophy deal with pramāņa first only to prove prameya. Raghunath Ghosh in his contribution makes an effort to show that this theory is a kind of myth. Each and every system has formulated the epistemological theory in such a way so that metaphysical or ontological presuppositions admitted by a system are protected, which ultimately leads to the conclusion- meyǡdhînǡ mǡnasiddhih. It has been shown after reviewing epistemological theories formulated by different systems of Indian Philosophy. Religious epistemology is the study of how subjects’ religious beliefs can have, or fail to have, some form of positive epistemic status such as knowledge, justification, warrant, and rationality and whether they even need such status appropriate to their kind. The current debate in religious epistemology is focused most centrally upon the kind of basis upon which a religious believer can be rationally justified in holding certain beliefs about God like, whether God exists, what attributes God has, what God is doing, etc. and whether it is necessary to be so justified to believe as a religious believer ought. Engaging these issues are primarily three groups of people who call themselves ‘fideists’, ‘Reformed epistemologists’, and ‘evidentialists. Kantilal Das in his contribution Wittgenstein on Religious Epistemology tries to focuses these issues from Wittgenstein perspective. It is often a devastating and life changing experience for a woman to discover that for one reason or another they cannot have children of their own. In some cases, such as those involving repeated unsuccessful attempts at assisted reproductive technology or having a non-functional uterus, the remaining option for these women and their partners is surrogacy. However, a major concern with surrogacy is the potential harm that may be inflicted upon the surrogate mother and the child. Jyotish Ch. Basak in his ‘the Surrogacy Conundrum’ emphasizes this issue. Generally, it is believed that an artwork may not be real or mental or ideal, but the novel and unique ideas that it presents may have a special ontological stand. It can be considered as a system of exceptionally outstanding concepts which are intersubjective - it may exist in collective ideology. However, ontology cannot be separated from sociology and ideology. An artist’s personal ontology is rearranged just by the raw data of the natural world. The ontological status of artwork is said to be fixed by its identity, existence, and persistence conditions. Relevant ontological status may be shared with different things, and different artworks may have different status. Arundhati Mukherji in her contribution tries to explain that a work of art may exist both artistically and aesthetically. A finished work of art exists in the imaginative activity of the artist or producer, and on the observer’s appreciation as well. However, it can be further rational and practical to nurture the value of art, keeping aside the issues in the ontology of art. Contractarianism as an ethical theory derives from the social contract political theory of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes believed that the fundamental demand of the legal obligations that a state imposes upon its citizens stems from a tacit agreement that those citizens have with the state to the effect that the citizens will obey the laws of the state in exchange for the security, comfort, and prosperity that the state affords its citizens. Ngaleknao Ramthing in ‘Contractarianism: A brief survey’ attempts to examine the theoretical groundwork of contractarianism and explain how people strive to establish the basic factors that sanction the formation of human societies which give rise to the creation of governing authorities all through an initial set of covenants people agree to enter into so as to strengthen individual self-preservation and social living by being members of a greater society. Gilbert Harman, one of the chief contemporary voices supporting moral relativism defends this age-old thesis in a new way on internalist grounds. A general outline of his thesis reveals that morality so far it strives to be objective, absolute and universal rests on false presupposition. Rather moral requirements are shaped by established conventions or agreements reached by various people. Since different groups of people subscribe to different agreements, the moral worth of actions is relative to different moral frameworks, and no framework can be held to be objectively privileged. He explains our moral beliefs in terms of our psychology, without any appeal to independent realm of values. Harman argues for his thesis on the ground of what he calls ‘inner judgments’, which has two characteristic features, the first of which is that we can make such judgments about an agent only if it is supposed that he has reasons to be motivated by the relevant moral consideration. He takes three examples to substantiate his contention. He also distinguishes between the ‘moral ought’ from the ‘normative ought’ on the one hand, and, the ‘neutral’ conception of moral reasons from the ‘evaluative’ conceptions. Several critics object to Harman’s internalist position of moral relativism. Saswati De Mondal in ‘A critical assessment of Gilbert Harman’s Internalist thesis of moral relativism’ is doubtful whether this relativistic position, at least, in the present form, can bear the challenges raised against it. Munmun Chakraborty in ‘Attributive Consciousness and Intentionality: an Analysis from Rāmānuja’s Perspective’ makes an ardent attempt to reveal the notion of intentionality inherent in Rāmānuja’s understanding of consciousness. She claims that the notion of intentionality which is primarily attributed to Germen philosopher Edmund Husserl is not a sole contribution of him rather explicated quite extensively by Rāmānuja. Rāmānuja not only mark out consciousness with object-directedness but also his realistic conviction impels him to challenge the eternal, independent and non-cognizable nature of consciousness. It is this objective account of consciousness which substantiates Rāmānuja’s inclination towards intentionality thesis and thus deserves special attention. In the last quarter of nineteenth century and early part of twentieth century a Hindu religious cult prevailing among the hilly regions of central and Western Odisha propagate a new wave of humanism in the social and religious life, called Mahimā Dharma. It was a socio-religious movement. This Movement was initiated by the illustrious Mahimā Swami with the sole purpose to reviving the restoring truth, nonviolence, equality and justice in the society. Bhima Bhoi is known as the spokesman and exponent of the philosophy of Mahimā Dharma. Its philosophy centers round on absolute Alekha Param Brahma who is the creator of the whole Universe. The holy phrase ‘Mahimā Alekha’ which is accorded as the status of mantra in the system contains the essence of the system. In Mahimā philosophy Mahimā Gosain is accepted as the incarnation of śūnya or alekha. Jhadeswar Ghosh in his Śūnyatā: a Philosophical Reflection on Mahimā Dharma realizes how the theology of the God is substituted by the new theology of the God Alekha (śūnya) in Mahima philosophy. Discrimination, harassment or oppression in connection with any of these groups of people might be related to: ability, age, bodily appearance and decoration, class, creed, caste, culture, gender, health status, relationship status, mental health, offending background, place of origin, political beliefs, race, and responsibility for dependants, religion and sexual orientation. Procedures, policies and legislation appertaining to equality, value and diversity include morality, national law and international conventions. Kasturi Datta (Majumdar) in ‘Equality vs. Value: Some Observations’ tries to clarify these issues critically. The concept of Satyāgraha has been stated in the Upanişads, the Mahābhārata, the Bhagavadgītā etc. But Gandhi got this idea of Satyāgraha from the Vaişņavism Satyāgraha means clinging to truth. According to Gandhi, truth implies love which serves as a synonym for force. Gandhi calls the Indian movement of Satyāgraha, the force which is born of truth and love or non-violence. Satyāgraha is the power of human soul and it is the maintenance of the glory of the human conscience. This conscience ensures the non-violence battle for the victory of the truth. Satyāgraha is a scientific method. Bhupendra Candra Das in his paper tries to explain that the capability and utility of Satyāgraha are found not only in getting political freedom but against social injustice, exploitation, social evils and oppression. Satyāgraha is not a weapon of the weak but it is a weapon of the strong and it claims for a disciplined civilized society and culture for the human being all over the world. Social, economic, political and religious problems can be solved with the help of Satyāgraha which is most powerful and permanent weapon. In Plato’s Euthyphro, Socrates raises the question, “Is what is holy, holy because God approve it, or do they approve it because it is holy?” This question is the beginning of a debate among philosophers and theologians about the foundation of morality. Is an action right or wrong because God commands or prohibits it, or does God command or prohibit the action because it is already right or wrong? It is believed that all religions laid stress on dharma or righteousness. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kant, Swedenborg, Spinoza, the Vedas and Dharmaśāstras are all striking examples in the history of East and Western philosophy. So not only is morality an intrinsic feature of almost all religions, but also morality is incapable of standing alone. In his contribution, Laxmikanta Padhi makes an attempt to show that in one respect in which it is said that morality needs religion is that the goal of moral life is unreachable without religious practice. Some philosophers also maintain that morality needs religion in at least two other respects. In the end of his paper, he discusses that there are three ways in which morality depends on religion, although there are conceptual connections among the standard arguments. As an ascetic, Buddha was restless in search of the real source of all sufferings and of the path or means of cessation from these sufferings. He sought answers to his questions from many learned scholars and religious teachers of his time, but nothing satisfied him. The message of his enlightenment laid the foundation of both the Buddhist religion and philosophy. Subodh Chandra Paul in his contribution attempts to explain the philosophy of integration in Buddhism from this perspective. Like all great teachers of ancient times, Buddha taught by conversation and our knowledge of Buddha's teachings depends on the Tripitakas. All these articulate simultaneously a philosophy, a psychology, and an ethics, all integrated into the framework of a program for liberation. Quine’s concept of naturalised epistemology aims at to revise First Philosophy (classical epistemology). Quine observes some serious loopholes and limitations of classical philosophy. Hasen Ali Ahmed in his ‘Reflection on Quine’s Naturalised Epistemology’tries to show that how Quine’s view of naturalised epistemology has been developed on the basis of refined common sense (i.e.science). Much weightage has also been given on the coherence of stimulations and science, because the coherence of stimulations and science is the hallmark of Quine’s naturalism or naturalised epistemology. The other important aspect that has been proposed in this contribution is to pin down whether Quine’s naturalised epistemology has any affinity with realism or instrumentalism. Jayeeta Majumder in ‘Intentionality as a Central part of Consciousness: Husserl and Mohanty’ deals with Husserl and J.N Mohanty’s view on consciousness. In recent times, the German Philosopher E. Husserl engaged himself to analyze the structure of consciousness. Husserl’s interest mainly is to search the fundamental structure of consciousness which is always directed towards an object. Mohanty also claims that phenomenology bear the same view like Vedanta which assigns a place of prominence to consciousness. He mentioned that there is a kind of interaction between consciousness and world. Peter Singer opines: “I am a utilitarian. I am also a vegetarian. I am a vegetarian because I am a utilitarian. I believe that applying the principle of utility to our present situation - especially the methods now used to rear animals for food and the variety of food available to us - leads to the conclusion that we ought to be vegetarian”. It is well known that many of the philosophers from antiquity were vegetarian: Pythagoras, Empedocles, Theophrastus, Seneca, Ovid, Plutarch, Plotinus, Porphyry, and others. And Plato, although apparently not a vegetarian, nonetheless greatly impressed by vegetarian thought. What is not so well by classicists is that there has been a rebirth in philosophical vegetarianism in the last decade that has generated an enormous debate of at least two hundred articles and books. As may be suspected, this debate has also rekindled interest in the current vegetarian thought, which is discussed in the contribution of Debanjali Mukhherjee. Eagam Khaling in his ‘Differences between Kant and Newton’s Three Laws of Motion’ explains that there are some similarities between Newton’s three laws of motion and Kant’s three laws of mechanics. The objective of his paper is to show some important differences between the two and also to argue Kant’s three laws of mechanics form an important part of Kant’s philosophy of natural science. Ambedkar points out that there is a gulf of difference between Varṇa and caste so far as their definitions are concerned. But so far as the practice of them in our society is concerned caste becomes identical with varṇa. In that sense not only the caste but also the varṇa is the root-cause which gives birth to all problems of our society. Therefore, Ambedkar observes that both caste and varṇa should be annihilated. But Gandhiji fully disagrees with Ambedkar on this issue a humble attempt has been made in the contribution of Dr. Nirmal Kumar Roy. He deals with the arguments produced by both of the great men to stand their respective positions. Ultimately through careful and critical analysis, the view of Ambedkar has been substantiated.
NIRMAL KUMAR ROY