A discipline that seems to pervade the basis of human interface with the world was naturally one of the handful of courses offered to students in July 1956, at the newly established Lady Shri Ram College for Women. With a rich and diverse amalgam of ideas, the department has been able to shape itself into a hub of philosophical exchange, and create an exciting space for critical thinking and exploration. The undergraduate curriculum for Philosophy involves an interface with the seminal texts in the Indian and European traditions, with the object of initiating novices into the formative concepts informing the logical and chronological progression of thought in the subject. The course aims to familiarise students with the core areas of the subject, whereby one would be conversant with the import and implications of engaging in a study of ‘ontology’, ‘epistemology’ and ‘metaphysics’. There is scope for discriminating valid from invalid forms of reasoning and to apply such discernment to the arguments for determining cogent/inconsistent knowledge claims and the feasibility of standards informing value judgments in Ethics and Aesthetics. The course aims also, to interrogate the relation of reciprocity and discord between ‘philosophical’ ideas and the contexts: social, political, religious, cultural, literary, in which they are embedded. For all this and more, a graduate degree in the subject offers but a prelude to further exploration in the subject.
Departmental Association Activities
The department has striven, since its inception, to introduce space for creative expression, unfettered by the scope of the prescribed curriculum. The department always endeavours to incorporate expertise beyond the classroom through multiple forums within the Association activities, conceived and executed jointly by the faculty and students, in the form of frequent seminars facilitating such interactions with eminent scholars from India and abroad.
This year, Aletheia, the annual department meet was organized on 28th March 2018 on the theme ‘The Philosophy of Emotions’. The Opening Ceremony featured a shadow play showcasing the short story ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’, by Ursula Le Guin, adapted and directed for the stage by students of the department. The performance served as an attempt to raise an important moral question in keeping with the theme of the meet. We sought to make the audience question and ponder over how much weight our emotions and experiences hold, with regard to the actions we justify them with. The premise of the original story behind the performance was based on a moral quandary by the philosopher, William James, who wondered how hideous happiness would be if it were based on the suffering of an innocent child. And so, while the seemingly blissful, utopian city of Omelas exists, so does the suffering of an innocent child. We raised the question of the greater good- who decides what it is? And where do we draw the line? In the end, the audience was encouraged to ponder over what they would do, as citizens of Omelas; stay ignorant, leave altogether, or do something to stop the suffering of the child?
This was followed by a guest lecture by Dr. Bijoy Boruah, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. His Areas of Specialization include Philosophy of Mind, Philosophical Aesthetics, History of Modern Western Philosophy, Ethics and Value Theory, Metaphysics of the Self. He delivered a talk on Emotions and Cognition.
This year, the competitive student led events during Aletheia included the Socratic Seminar (extempore debate competition), Falsafa (A mono acting competition), Antilipsi ( A photography event followed by an exhibition), Step Up (debating event designed as a board game) and Slam Poetry.
Apart from the meet, the department association organized a number of events throughout the year. Some of these included:
Student Panel Discussion on Capital Punishment, Abortion, Capitalism
Research Methodology Workshop by Dr Ajay Verma
The Annual Department Production: “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”
Talk on “Contemporary Epistemology” by Dr Nilanjan Bhowmick
Talk on “Environmental Ethics and Ecology” by Dr Pragati Sahani
Talk on “Human Rights and Human Dignity”by Dr Shashi Motilal
The department journal titled Noeisis, edited by students, is published annually and it engages with a range of philosophical themes such as Buddhism, Cartesian Philosophy, and Philosophy of Language etc.