Why cannot we explore our rich intellectual tradition

An open sharing of some thoughts with Principal Secretary, Higher Education
Representational Photo
Representational PhotoFile/ GK

Sir,

This is to entreat you to consider the following points:

That no institution can serve its purpose unless it has ethics—the first philosophy. An institution of higher education, in particular, must have an engagement with the depth or foundational theoretical basis of every discipline it embraces, and that is done by philosophy of the respective subjects. Philosophy is concerned with questions of essence, as what things are at their core.

Holistic education promoting value bases of life and aspiration towards higher goals is impossible without conscious assimilation of philosophical undercurrent. Education needs a breath of philosophy, and philosophy and ethics are the two sides of the same coin.

Philosophy understood as critical thinking, sharpening awareness or examination of life, is an essential element of ethically sensitive personality development. For great teachers, from Socrates to Gandhi to Aurobindo to Whitehead to Martin Luther King, intelligence plus character has remained the true goal of education.

That ethics should inform every goal and every aspiration. It is needed in every sphere of life. For example, business ethics, medical ethics, environmental ethics, political ethics, bio-ethics, international ethics, research ethics so on and so forth. Webster’s World Dictionary defines ethics as relating to what is good or bad and having to do with moral duty and obligation.

Ethics as a sub branch of philosophy, indicates an obligation to consider not only our personal well being but also that of others and of human society as a whole. In true sense, ethics is concerned with actions and practices that are directed to improve the welfare of the people.

The tree is known by its fruits and man is known by his morals, etiquettes and applying this test to our present educational scenario, we can assert that our educational institutions failed to deliver, to make new generations happier, wiser and productive.

To achieve the supreme truth, wisdom and joy one needs not merely rationalistic and linguistic skills but humility or attention towards the other. Illumined heart and sharp mind both are needed. It is a lifelong learning and discipline to develop virtues and sensitivity towards the ethical domain. The whole dimension of tarbiyyet (that complemented taleem traditionally) has been obscured, however,  New Education Policy has also drawn attention towards this point.

That both Western and Eastern philosophers have required central attention to ethics. The very aim of Indian philosophy is transformation of self into an ethically responsive agent that qualifies for supreme end, eudamonia or Moksha.

Indian philosophical traditions have all practical ethical concomitants and illuminate odyssey of life by showing us our ways out of our egos and all its dualistic binary linguistic representationlist confusions, doubts and uncertainties.

Ethics has been central to the art of living well and finding meaning in life. In present scenario where depression, conflicts, personality disorders, pathologies in relationships, alienation from work, harassment of women, domestic violence are all rampant, Ethics concerns every citizen, every  student and employee in private and public sector.

That the holistic meaning of ethics has been prevalent right from Vedic-upanishadic times, to Western philosophy from Greek, Medival, to Contemporary, to Mutazilities and Ashrities in Islamic tradition. Besides, Jammu and Kashmir has its heritage of traditional philosophy and Islamic Mystico-metaphysical tradition.

Why are our educated people ignorant of the thoughts of great luminaries as Abinavgupta, a great sage, Shankaracharya, Ramananuja, Nund Rishi, Lalla, Prakash Ram and major Sufi poets? Why cannot we explore our rich intellectual tradition to help post modernity in order to come out of current crises in thought and values? Why cannot we promote philosophical culture as an antidote to rising communalist and fundamentalist sectarianism? Do we have a possible solution that treats both science and culture equally? Do we have institutional institutions where diverse sciences dialogues would possible? Can a formal education be helpful without teaching ethics? Despite thousands and thousands of educational institutions running, people are not well aware about ecological imbalance/environmental destruction and its restoration/loss of bio-diversity/destruction of eco-system/climate change/ cause and consequences of deforestation.

That we have less than 8% colleges and 0.8% 10+2 institutions teaching philosophy and our professional institutions do not have significant place for ethics and philosophy–the ground of all sciences (philosophy). Alongside, while studying, philosophy makes one familiar with Yoga/Meditation/Art and Aesthestics, the newely designed syllabus by Delhi University’s learning outcome-based curriculum framework is dynamic and divers, and touches upon traditional philosophy methods and contemporary elements including applied philosophy, in terms of skill enhancement courses like,critical thinking/art and film appreciation/ philosophy of law and language/philosophy of technology, etc.

That, therefore, true knowledge necessarily translates itself into good action. Ignorance or Avidya in Hindu tradition is the only crime and education in the real sense should dispel this darkness and bring Vidya (Knowledge). Ancient Hindus defined philosophy as Darshana –a direct vision of reality rather than abstract ratiocination.

This is what is meant by Hikmah and motto that defines traditional learning institutions – from darkness to light in Indo-Islamic traditions. Education first teaches self knowledge which is the key to all other knowledge. Educational institutions are soul making institutions and not just information processing units.

To redress this grim scenario, the malice of illiteracy of the literates, we need to construct our educational set-up and reconstruct our educational policy and reframe our syllabi by introducing philosophy and ethics in all educational institutions.

Philosophy is the queen of all sciences and whatever is taught either under the head of sciences and philosophies and humanities, has philosophical basis and needs philosophy to be integrated with its sub-branches. Here we would suggest some of the main course of philosophy of ethics for holistic development and understanding of individuals, like:

Philosophy as critical Thinking and Love of Wisdom’

Ethics as First Philosophy/Major Ethical Philosophies

Ethics: Religious and Sociological Perspectives

Meta-Ethics, Applied Ethics, Normative Ethics, Deontological Ethics,

Teleological Ethics, Virtue Ethics, Comparative Ethics,

Applied Ethics, like: Environmental Ethics, Medical Ethics

Professional Ethics, Business Ethics, Public Ethics, Personal Ethics,

Cyber Ethics, Bioethics

Thanking in anticipation

Dr Ateequllah Dar, Concerned citizen of Jammu and Kashmir

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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