Philosophical Papers. Vol 15 (March 2019) : [11] Collection home page


The question ‘What is Knowledge?’ has been pondered from ancient Greece and still continues to be formulated in many areas in philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, etc. There is no agreed definition of what is knowledge. Although people intuitively know what is knowledge, and recognize its presence, the opinions on this topic vary according the different areas and are not consensual. One way to understand the question is to observe the use of the term knowledge in our daily life. From time immemorial knowledge occupies a central place over belief or opinion. This issue remains the same in Indian epistemology too where cognition demands association with precision to be recognised as valid knowledge. Within the purview of knowledge, there arises the issue of emotion and reason. In fact, in all spheres of our cognitive exercises and interpretive practices-be it the issues of ethics, epistemic enquiries or even in our dreams the duel between reason and emotions form a very important aspect. The rationalist traditions in philosophy have throughout proclaimed and asserted their supremacy over other forms of cognition and decision making. In a sense, emotion takes us on a voyage of desires while reason delimits those to the realm of ought. Current debates in epistemology don’t just concern rival theories, like foundationalists vs. coherentists, or internalists vs. externalists. They often concern with the methodologies, which present divergent ways of solving epistemological problems. On the one hand, there have been numerous recent defences of the methods of traditional epistemology: philosophical intuitions and the use of thought experiments. On the other hand, there are many philosophers who view arm-chair theorizing with skepticism, and embrace empirical results from philosophy itself like, experimental philosophy or cognitive science. These two rival methodological camps are often pitted against each other, but they exist in harmony. For example, a theory from traditional epistemology that has won much interest is virtue epistemology. The results from virtue epistemology are consistent with and actually complement the leading cognitive paradigm from cognitive science and the dual-process theory. The present volume is the outcome of some of the deliberations presented in the national seminar on Epistemology, organized by the Department of Philosophy, North Bengal University sponsored by UGC. The contributors of the present issue engage in their own scholarly way to unravel the above from diverse perspectives in epistemology and psychology. We plenteously express our deep sense of happiness to publish this special edition as Philosophical Papers: Journal of the Department of Philosophy Volume-15, before the philosophical community. We thank the esteemed members of the editorial board, all colleagues for valuable suggestion, support to take extra mile for the accomplishment of the publication of this special issue. We are also grateful to our Honorable Vice-Chancellor for the encouragement and support, the Finance Officer (Officiating), the University Grants Commission and the University Press, without which the publication of the journal would not have been possible. Epistemology, metaphysics and theology have been in serious trouble in Western philosophy for at least the past two hundred years. This crisis has thrown up what Lyotard calls “the post-modern condition”. However, the recent “turn to religion” has opened up a range of surprising alternative vistas to Lyotard’s diagnosis. Amongst other developments, Radical Orthodox theologians have challenged the very notion of “the secular” and are seeking to re-establish orthodox Christian theology as the only viable grounds for a meaningful Western philosophy and culture. Tushar Kanti Sarkar in Knowledge: Limits and Transcendence tries to show that there is a ‘limit’ as to what we can know and how far can the range of human knowledge be extended and that we need to also probe into the possible ways of ‘going beyond’/‘transcending’ such a limit. Language is a much misunderstood common term used by us. But most of us do not agree about the correct meaning of this term. Different people have different ideas about it, which has give rise to a variety of concepts. Different concepts of language give rise to different problems and to different theories of language. These problems about the nature of language have not only bothered the modern scholars, but the ancients too. Raghunath Ghosh in ‘Na vāg gacchati: A Discourse on the Limit of Language’ talks about the status of Nirvikalpaka awareness and limit of language to express it. Generally ‘knowledge’ means ‘knowledge of something’ in the epistemic sense. But in the Advaita Vedānta system of philosophy there is ‘pure knowledge’ having no content which is called ‘contentless cognition’ avişayaka-jňāna. Thus, according to Ghosh, there is a limit of cognition incapable of being revealed in language. Perhaps this type of cognition which is called aśābda has got some role of its own, which has been hinted in the Upanisadic mantra - na vāg gacchati. Pushpa Mishra in ‘Emotion, Reason and Dreams’ explains three apparently opposed topics together. Her attempt mainly tries to present an overall view of the predominance and relation of these three topics and tries to show how in spite of their apparent opposition the three are inter-related. She begins by tracing the predominance of reason in western philosophical tradition staring from Plato and shows that the predominance continued in epistemology, moral philosophy and even influenced psychological theories and research. This hegemony of reason, the paper claims, has been broken by the influence of Freud, by neuro-physiological findings of Damasio and by the influence of feminism. Freud’s discovery of the unconscious lessened the importance of conscious cognition in decision making and other areas of psychic functioning. Damasio’s discovery brought about incontrovertible proof that rational decision making is physiologically impossible without emotion and the feminist philosophers effectively challenged the reason centred approach to morality and epistemology. Roma Chakraborty in ‘Understanding Dreams from an Evolutionary Perspective: A Critical Study’ deals with how people have always been interested in the how and why of dreams and theories of dream function have ranged accordingly. In her paper she considers, though briefly, the debate on the function, namely, what purpose if any does dreaming serve, what is it designed for - from the evolutionary perspective. She concludes with this remark that the study of dream calls for a multi-level explanation which would proceed with a holistic approach accommodating the different interdisciplinary approaches to the development of a theory of dreaming. Nirmalya Narayan Chakraborty basically focuses on what might be called ‘epistemology of emotion’. He begins with a brief presentation of how emotion could be understood. And this leads to a discourse on the role of emotion in human epistemic life. Does emotion form an integral part of man’s cognitive repertoire? Can emotive experience be understood in terms of the normal epistemic model like that of perception? If emotive experience could be explained in terms of perceptual knowledge then emotion could very well be treated as another form of knowledge, which in its turn would have serious repercussion on the ‘inner-outer’ distinction, a distinction that philosophy of mind makes a great deal out of. Moreover, the realismanti-realism debate in theory of knowledge looms large over the background once emotion is accounted for in terms of the generally accepted perceptual knowledge, a model that I call ‘externalist model’. Researchers who are working on the intersection of language, society, and history would benefit from an approach that more fully integrates the insights of both lines of inquiry. The linguistic view of intentionality embraces theories that attempt to single out the class of intentional states by appealing to factors that are supposedly criterial for intentional sentences. Ranjan Mukhopadhyay in ‘Knowledge, Intentionality and Language’ analyses the nature of knowledge. He shows through diagrams how a notion of knowledge can be applied to others. He analyses two important notions of knowledge-one extensional and the other intentional. He concludes by saying that if we are not cautious about the above two distinctions then confusions may occur in the field of knowledge. When we enquire into the relation between belief and knowledge, we are mainly concerned with the relation between belief that and knowledge that. In Russell’s later terminology we are comparing two ‘propositional attitudes’; and they may be attitudes to the same proposition. If we contrast belief with knowledge and think of it as an inferior substitute for knowledge, the contrast is primarily between ‘knowledge that’ and ‘belief that’. Again, if we define knowledge in terms of belief, we are defining ‘knowledge that’ in terms of ‘belief that’; and the contrast which remains is one between ‘knowledge that’ and mere ‘belief that’, or between the sort of ‘belief that’ which amounts to ‘knowledge that’ and the sort which does not. Manidipa Sanyal in her deliberations discusses how closeness of knowledge and belief is viewed in different forms, sometimes even as mutually exclusive. What is interesting in her paper is that the apparent innocence of knowledge-belief relation often unexpectedly leads us to view knowledge as "subject to critique", something which sounds weird in the ordinary usage of the notion of knowledge. It needs a little deeper analysis to reveal the truth of the content. In fact, these two claims are not absolutely different; rather they may be showed to be clubbed together. She has made an attempt to explore the possibility of knowledge-revision which is an apparently counterintuitive area in epistemology. Nyaya-Vaiśešika argument about the problem of empty terms is interesting to say the least and it has far reaching significance in ontology, metaphysics and semantics. ‘God is’ is interpreted by the Naiyāyikas as: there is God, for denying His existence is to affirm Him as God. We cannot negate any non-entity. If we negate God, we are bound to accept His ‘entitative existence’. Nataraju Adarasupally and Basanta Jyoti Bhuyan in The Problem of ‘Empty Terms’ in the Navya Nyaya philosophy aim to suggest a distinction between ‘illusory-possibles’ and ‘un-actualized possibles’ and go on to conclude that the Navya Nyāya being a realist school, has no place for singular or general empty terms. Gāṅgeśa endorses such a view. All sentences that contain ‘empty terms’ equally find no place in classical Nyāya. However, Buddhist and Mimāṁsā philosophies do have a place for ‘un actualised-possibles’. Thus, Nataraju and Basantajyoti enquire in to the issues concerning the problem of empty terms in the Navya Nyāya philosophy. However, in their contribution they do not indulge in comparing this notion, though there is some reference, with that of the works of some of the leading western thinkers of modern times who also contributed on this problem. In fact they discuss the problem within the frame work of the Nyāya school. Despite his monastic background, Nagarjuna’s philosophical texts were sometimes directed against logicians of non-Buddhist schools, but most often they offered critiques of the doctrines and assumptions of the non-Mahayana Buddhist schools, especially Sarvastivada. Nagarjuna’s overriding theme, however, is the bodhisattva’s path to buddhahood and the merit and wisdom that the bodhisattva must accumulate in order to achieve enlightenment. By wisdom, Nagarjuna meant the perfection of wisdom, declared in the sutras to be the knowledge of emptiness. Nagarjuna is credited with transforming the sutras’ poetic and sometimes paradoxical declarations on emptiness into a philosophical system. Shakuntala Bora deals with Nagarjuna’s Epistemology and tries to explain how Nagarjuna denies things having svabhava. Such a denial, however, has epistemological implication as pointed out by his opponents: all knowledge-claims are devoid of intrinsic nature. In Vyagrahavivartani Nagarjuna tries to prove that means of knowledge are empty. By doing so according to Bora, he actually tries to tell that it is wrong to look for a way of knowing emptiness. Emptiness is not a ‘thing’ to be known and as such there is no ‘way’ of knowing emptiness. The questions, ‘Why do we dream’? or ‘What is the function of dreaming’? are easy to ask but very difficult to answer. The most honest answer is that we do not yet know the function or functions of dreaming. It’s long been known that our brains actually do a lot of work while we sleep. The brain is especially active during a phase of sleep called REM, which has been linked to learning and memory. Jitendra Ramprakash in ‘Reason, Emotion, Dream and Creativity’ attempts to explain the duel between reason and emotion and that between dream and reality. By stringing together - reason, emotion and dream as a theme, we have before us a fascinating matrix, in which many a philosophical question can be considered. The question that he deliberates upon is the one of dreams and creativity, with a focus on the similarity between some tools of dream-formation and the creative process. He concludes that the question of creativity has to be answered and Philosophy must undertake a fresh approach in this regard. Just like Flanagan appealed for a holistic approach to philosophising dreams, we need to undertake a multi-disciplinary approach in the philosophy of creativity too. Epistemology deals with the nature and possibility of knowledge. A central problem in epistemology consists in the sceptical challenge which in a generalized manner flows doubt on our justifications for knowledge claims thus threatens the very possibility of knowledge. In order to defend the possibility of justification, and knowledge, against that challenge, Himansu Sekhar Samal in his endeavour has made an attempt focus on two main possibilities. The first possibility is foundationalism, where he emphasises upon some of the main claims of foundationalism and examines the concept of justified basic belief by considering ‘the regress argument’. He also examines the two different versions of foundationalism and critically discusses some answers to the question: ‘What makes justified basic beliefs justified? The second possibility is coherentism in which there is no ultimately privileged belief, but justification is still possible because it is provided by coherence within a set of beliefs. But the central issue in modern epistemology is to account for a more reliable theory in the epistemological process.


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Collection's Items (Sorted by Submit Date in Descending order): 1 to 11 of 11
Issue DateTitleAuthor(s)
2019-03An Understanding of Epistemic Justification through Foundationalism and CoherentismSamal, Himansu Sekhar
2019-03Dream And Creativity: A Hypothesis About The ProcessRamprakash, Jitendra
2019-03Nagarjuna’s Epistemology: On Epistemology and Its LimitsBorah, Shakuntala
2019-03The Problem of ‘Empty Terms’ In the Navya Nyaya PhilosophyAdarasupally, Nataraju; Bhuyan, Basanta Jyoti
2019-03Knowledge and Belief-The Epistemic BandSanyal, Manidipa
2019-03Knowledge, Intentionality and LanguageMukhopadhyay, Ranjan
2019-03Emotion, Knowledge and the Externalist ModelChakraborty, Nirmalya Narayan
2019-03Understanding Dreams from an Evolutionary Perspective: A Critical StudyChakraborty, Roma
2019-03Emotion, Reason and DreamsMishra, Pushpa
2019-03Na Vag Gacchati: A Discourse On the Limit Of LanguageGhosh, Raghunath
2019-03Knowledge: Limits And TranscendenceSarkar, Tushar Kanti
Collection's Items (Sorted by Submit Date in Descending order): 1 to 11 of 11