Saturday, March 24, 2012


A song that reminds us to be constantly grateful for all we have received...hat tip Genevieve D'souza...

Friday, March 9, 2012

HANNAH ARENDT (1906–1975)

Hannah Arendt was one of the seminal political thinkers of the twentieth century. The power and originality of her thinking was evident in works such as The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, On Revolution and The Life of the Mind. In these works and in numerous essays she grappled with the most crucial political events of her time, trying to grasp their meaning and historical import, and showing how they affected our categories of moral and political judgment. What was required, in her view, was a new framework that could enable us to come to terms with the twin horrors of the twentieth century, Nazism and Stalinism. She provided such framework in her book on totalitarianism, and went on to develop a new set of philosophical categories that could illuminate the human condition and provide a fresh perspective on the nature of political life.

Arendt's theory of action and her revival of the ancient notion of praxis represent one of the most original contributions to twentieth century political thought. By distinguishing action (praxis) from fabrication (poiesis), by linking it to freedom and plurality, and by showing its connection to speech and remembrance, Arendt is able to articulate a conception of politics in which questions of meaning and identity can be addressed in a fresh and original manner. Moreover, by viewing action as a mode of human togetherness, Arendt is able to develop a conception of participatory democracy which stands in direct contrast to the bureaucratized and elitist forms of politics so characteristic of the modern epoch.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

J. D. KRISHNAMURTHI (1895 - 1986)

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986) was adopted in his youth by Dr Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. In 1929, however, Krishnamurti renounced the role that he was expected to play, dissolved the Order with its huge following, and returned all the money and property that had been donated for this work. From then, for nearly sixty years until his death on 17 February 1986, he travelled throughout the world talking to large audiences and to individuals about the need for a radical change in mankind.

The core of Krishnamurti’s teaching is contained in the statement he made in 1929 when he said, “Truth is a pathless land”. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives, of the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption, of the individual's search for security and happiness, and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, and sorrow. He explained with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind, and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and spiritual quality. His teaching, besides being relevant to the modern age, is timeless and universal.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Paulo Freire (September 19, 1921 – May 2, 1997) was a Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy. Coming from an economically deprived background himself, he envisaged the role of education in creating a more just society. Paulo Freire contributed a philosophy of education that was strongly influenced by modern Marxist and anti-colonialist thinkers. In fact, in many ways his Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) – a classic that is mandatory reading for any advanced degree in Education – brings to the fore this key idea.

In the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire attacks the "banking" concept of education, in which the student was viewed as an empty account to be filled by the teacher; which he counters with his theory of a 'problem-posing education'. In this approach to education the teacher-student teaches the student-teachers. This indeed recognizes a truth; it is never the case in fact that the teacher always knows and the student never does.

Educational method needs to be re-viewed to prevent it from becoming one more weapon in the hands of the powerful to subjugate the oppressed. Freire advocates that education should allow the oppressed to regain their humanity and overcome their condition. However, he acknowledges that in order for this to take effect, the oppressed have to play a role in their own liberation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Just yesterday we had the MPh students defend their dissertations. Interesting stuff – rather heavy – but worth the while of all those present. Here are a few introductions to some of the topics discussed…

Post-modernism is the key word used today almost ad nauseam to describe anything that does not seem to fit into our regular ways of thinking. And standing at the helm of the postmodern cohort among others is Jacques Derrida (1930-2004).

On the first day of the school year in 1942, Derrida was expelled from his lycée by French administrators implementing anti-Semitic quotas set by the Vichy government. So we can say that he experienced in his own life the marginalization and discrimination he went on to strongly criticize. Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) is arguably the most well known philosopher of contemporary times. He is also one of the most prolific. Distancing himself from the various philosophical movements and traditions that preceded him on the French intellectual scene (phenomenology, existentialism, and structuralism), in the mid 1960s he developed a strategy called deconstruction. Deconstruction is not purely negative, but it is primarily concerned with something tantamount to a ‘critique’ of the Western philosophical tradition, although this is generally staged via an analysis of specific texts. To simplify matters, deconstruction seeks to expose, and then to subvert, the various binary oppositions that undergird our dominant ways of thinking. But even more than the re-conception of différance, deconstruction works towards preventing the worst violence. It attempts to render justice. Indeed, deconstruction is relentless in this pursuit since justice is impossible to achieve. Deconstruction has had an enormous influence in many disparate fields, including psychology, literary theory, cultural studies, linguistics, feminism, sociology and anthropology. Derrida's fame nearly reached the status of a media star, with hundreds of people filling auditoriums to hear him speak, with films and television programs devoted to him, with countless books and articles devoted to his thinking.