The present anthology is a collection of eleven articles on distinguished thinkers of contemporary Indian about values in general written by the members of the Value Group, Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, Jadavpur University. The eleven thinkers whose perspectives are elaborated in this volume are Krishna Chandra Bhattacharya, Sri Aurobindo, Binoy Kumar Sarkar, Manabendra Nath Roy,Balaram Hadi, Ramendrasundar Trivedi, Muhammad Iqbal, Debendranath Tagore, Keshub Chandra Sen, Sister Nivedita Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar.
In this volume all the authors, in their own ways, are interested to look the viewpoints of some of the renowned contemporary Indian thinkers to understand their perception of values and their suggested remedies for the elimination of social evils. Each author of this volume has endeavoured to interpret a thinker of his or her choice meticulously and essays are written in plain and simple English.M
These profiles should attract the attention of a wide range of audience: from general readers to those of sociology, history and philosophy.
Prof. Indrani Sanyal Ph.D. is teaching philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University for nearly thirty years and prior to that taught at Netaji Nagar College, Kolkata. She has been actively engaged in research in areas of ethics, especially Indian ethics, Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, and Western Analytic Philosophy. She has brought out various publications in the form of books, anthologies and research papers in journals. She had been the founder coordinator of the Centre for Sri Aurobindo Studies at the Department of Philosophy, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Some of her important publications include On Essentialist Claims, Through the Lens Dharma-ethics and anthologies edited jointly are Understanding Thoughts of Aurobindo; Sri Aurobindo and His Contemporary Thinkers; Dharmaniti O Sruti; Ethics and Culture: Some Indian Reflections: Education: Philosophy and Practice; The Refugees, Asuras, Marriage and Varied. Some other anthologies edited by Dr Sanyal are Sri Aurobindo: The Poet, Philosopher and Yogi: A Collection of Essays by Arabinda Basu.
As members of the Value Group, Centre of Advanced Study (CAS) in Philosophy, Jadavpur University, we are happy to bring out second volume of our group research publication entitled Ethics Culture: Some Contemporary Indian Reflections, vol. II as a sequel to the publication series-Ethics and Culture- launched during the last phase of CAS Programme, 2005-10 in Philosophy at Jadavpur University. In this volume, we are very much interested to look into the viewpoints of renowned contemporary Indian philosophers to understand their perception of values and their suggested panacea for social evils. Our understanding of the notion “philosopher” is very broad, which includes any original thinker, whether professing his view independently of any academy or a professional philosopher within an academy. We have begun our endeavour with much positive and inclusive outlook to carry on research on the ideas of philosophers which are of quite relevance to the present-day cultural and ethical context of India particularly and world as a whole. In very recent Period throughout the world, and India is no exception, cries for regenerating value norms are heard at every nook and corner and concerns for ethics and morality of individuals and societies are felt at every level-whether it is social, political, economic or religious. The Value Group has engaged itself to explore ideas of contemporary India thinkers, irrespective of religion, language, caste and economic status of the persons concerned. In the present volume, each author has dealt with his or her chosen thinker. It has been clearly shown by the presentation of the author their endeavour to read each thinker meticulously and interpret his ideas anew. We are not trying to detect loopholes in their ideas but trying to explore their positive contributions towards making a better society. In this connection, it is not difficult to discover a common bond among all the authors of this volume: they are all finally united in their attempts to have discovered particular items as value through explorations into culture. Hence a theoretical endeavour to make sense of the notion of value clear or to indulge in some theoretical deliberations about values will not be absolutely out of place. It also makes us aware about possible rejoinders to such queries as to why we are looking for values add do values really promote social conditions? We have not begun with any pre-se definition of value, but somehow or other, we shall see subsequently through our deliberations that, some of the values which got identified by the respective authors are not opposite to one another; rather these values shall tend to supplement mutually and often converge with one another.
In the essay, “Can There Be Value Judgement?” by Maitreyee Datta, through her analysis of Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s account of value judgements, we get some taste of meta-philosophical approach to value. Philosophers have lots of differences of opinion regarding the type of values to be admitted or regarding the principle to be adopted in enumerating, or selecting values. Questions have also been raised as to whether value is eternal, beyond any sort of change or value is fragile, goes on moving with time and context; question have been raised as to whether values are to be situated in the valuers or values are to be objectively found.
Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya does not go straight to the domain of value and determine what are the instances of value. In face of questions whether values are subjective or objective, it will remain difficult to answer how can one have access to values as such? If domains of values are not determinable, how can a valuer find values? Hence Krishnachandra must have avoided that sort of perilous and circuitous path of investigation. His question has been echoed through the title of Datta’s article, “Can There Be a Value Judgement?” This is none the less, a judicious approach, though framed apparently, in a round-about way, indirectly. Datta also does not enter into any direct questions about values but has formulated her question rather obliquely to whether there can be value judgements. In this article, the whole discussion proceeds in three layers simultaneously, one Datta’s layer, the other Krishnachandra Bhattacharyya’s layer, and beneath all, is Kant’s layer. Kant’s admission of reflective judgement, also known as judgement of taste which is expressive of pleasure and displeasure through judgements, is taken as undisputed paradigm for judgement of values.
Datta very meticulously and carefully proceeds after Bhattacharyya analysing the structure of value judgements to establish the claim that value cannot be known but has to be felt. Bhattacharyya’s argument pattern as discussed by Datta is very much Kantian. Kant found no way for the rejection of aesthetic judgement, but found it difficult to account for its structure in the light of paradigms he chalked out in his earlier Critiques.
Bhattacharyya’s understanding of Kant did not allow him to leave Kantian perspective unexplained. Finally, Datta explains in the light of Bhattacharyya’s perception, how two distinct incommensurable modes of consciousness get united in aesthetic judgement. Arguments and analysis establish value as a felt content of a reflective judgement. Arguments supporting the treatment of value as a felt content of a judgement, however, do not close the door for its being objective. There are also arguments to support that in some respect the known contents and the felt contents of a judgement are on a par. The sense of objectivity has been explained in terms of universalizability in the case of judgements with cognitive content and in terms of being impersonal in the case of judgements with feeling content. Datta agrees with Bhattacharyya’s view that the complete subtleties of the felt content cannot be expressed in language. Does this comment imply that some feelings are not expressible in language, some instances of appreciation of values are subjective? Datta does not say anything in this regard. We may take values to be distinct from other non-values in their related to human feeling, but their relatedness to human feeling does not reduce these values to mere subjective private entities: values are also expressible through judgement, though not in their wholeness but still values are not absolutely beyond expression. This article is very important as introducing starting point this anthology.
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