THE WHY AND HOW OF PHILOSOPHY
Anuradha Bhonsale Dewan is a passionate learner and teacher of philosophy. She concluded our series of Philosophy Summer School talks with her second session on “The Why and How of Philosophy”.
After a brief recap of the previous session which was about the branches of Philosophy and Indian Perspective on Philosophy, she begins the session by talking about a different country- Greece.
Socrates is synonymous with philosophy. Quoting his dictum, “A life unexamined is not worth living,” she goes on to tell the story of his execution for simply encouraging the youth to think and reason. Elaborating on it, she put forth the idea that our ability to think and reason gets dull and rusty if we don’t use it correctly and then we have to live with the consequences of that. The consequences could be based on how we spend our money, time and energy-for instance.
Touching on topics like utilitarianism, ends or intentions justifying the means, she goes on to talk about Ethical Theories and introduces us to Emmanuel Kant’s concept of Categorical Imperative. According to this concept, when in dilemma of choosing the right or the easy way/action, we must ask ourselves if we will be fine with others choosing the easy way too. This way, we need to inspect the why and how of our actions.
She also stresses the importance of choosing rationally rather than emotionally with an example very close to us- choosing a career or a field of study. It is choices like these that imperatively require us to think rationally rather than emotionally or in line with herd mentality.
Moving on to Applied Ethics, which is one of the three sub branches of the branch of Ethics, she talks about Environmental Ethics, anthropocentrism (which has led to several ecological crises), BioEthics (which deals with issues related to the medical field- distribution of healthcare, rights of patients and doctors and topics like Euthanasia, abortion, suicide, gentic engineering etc.), Professional or Business Ethics (labour laws, employers’ social responsibility, employee’s capacity etc.)
Going back to dealing with the dilemma of choosing between two options, she introduces the terms Shreyas and Preyas from the Indian Nitishastra. Shreyas is that which is beneficial while Preyas is that which is desirable. For example, going for a workout early in the morning or sleeping in!
Concluding the talk, she suggested a few books and resources which are related to the topics discussed and are also relatable for us students studying Economics:
Economic philosophy by Simon Blackburn.
Ted talk by Peter Singer, who propagates effective altruism.
Practical Ethics by Peter Singer.
The insightful talk ended with Mrs. Anuradha advising us, nay, urging us to study the relation between philosophy and economics as it is a very interesting topic and will definitely help us understand and apply economics better