Teezy Tiny Tales: Winning Entries

Following are the winning entries for the pre-event, Teezy Tiny Tales, hosted by the Philosophy Department as a preface to the much awaited Aletheia.

unnamed“What if it’s a daughter?” Asked the mother to a tensed father. 9 months later, Father was annoyed, the brother rejoiced.

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“What if you had a phone that could call your past?” “I would ask my mom, what happened to her on Feb 6th 2016 at 6:30 pm, in the last minute of her life.”, the student replied.

 

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What if there are as many worlds as many eyes are there? What if my black is your white?

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Vignettes: Winning Entries

As part of Aletheia, the Annual Academic Fest of the Department of Philosophy, Vignettes, an online photography competition was organised. The theme given to the participants was “Can Beliefs Be Questioned?”, which was open to interpretation. The selected entries were then displayed at the fest and judged by Mr Nimit Nigam, a Delhi-based travel photographer. The winning entry was submitted by Mansheetal Singh, III Year, Khalsa College.

 

The Divine Reincarnation

“If Lord Krishna were to reincarnate as exactly himself in today’s urban setting, how much would he be cared for? A gaze? Or max to max a selfie with him?
Nobody has got time in the rat race of the cities. His legends in Mahabharta would only appeal as stories to people of today.”

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. . .

The runner up entry was submitted by Eden Roc B. Ramos, I Year, Lady Shri Ram College.

Marbled Stillness

“Her delicate body is curled, her faint hand resting on the marble, abiding by the practice she covered herself to pay respect. One may sense that her vision is enclosed in some way or the other, focused on what has been known and handed over, where she’s trapped invisibly, blinded by the course of time having the sincere intent to attain the guarantee of grace and mercy from the unprecedented entity. Her thoughts might be at liberty, but her external entity is limping, her foot is fastened, besmirched by the sweep of unwanted colors. One may utter that she has the volition to question her current state, but does she, herself, desires to be freed? Would it be possible to move without detaching the shackles?”
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Word Interpretation: Winning Entry

As part of the Philosophy Day Celebration, a competition was held by the Department of Philosophy. There were two categories under which students could participate, Word-Interpretation and Picture-Anaylsis. For Word-Interpretation we gave the word ‘Duende’which refers to the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person. The winning entry for this category was submitted by Divas Kindra, Ist Year, Philosophy.

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Inertia

Flowers claw their way through my chest
Planting their feet in my ribcage and weaving a story as they surface with my breaths.
A word, four syllables, one glance- 
Stir the seeds planted eons ago
(A fertile ground for thought)
With laughter to nourish my roots.

The longest lines I have penned in a century
Drawn in haphazard awe and in unfortunate replications of your mind-
They do justice to nobody
If they aren’t written by you. 

You restore vision to unseeing eyes;
I see the trains as dragons with heaving chests
Spewing fickle fiends instead of fire, 
Unable to stomach the hypocrisy of their meal-
Impatient, tasteless morsels of mankind
That fight their way into the beast’s belly,
Hungry to be eaten.
Courtesy comes with a shelf life.

Swallowed by a jostling crowd
Your silver words resuscitate me.
Finally, I find my feet on shifting sands and hold my own against inertia.
Velocity and direction are unchanging variants 
In the eloquence of our equation.
Inertia isn’t always a sour symptom, you see
For when you write, it gives me the will 
To go on.

– Divas Kindra

Picture Analysis: Winning Entry

As part of the Philosophy Day Celebration, a competition was held by the Department of Philosophy. There were two categories under which students could participate, Word-Interpretation and Picture-Anaylsis. For Picture-Analysis we gave a famous painting by Andrew Wyeth, titled Christina’s World (1948). The winning entry for this category was submitted by Mariam Rauf, IIIrd Year, Sociology.

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Yearn the Barn

Yearning, what is she yearning for?

That home, what is it home to?

Those socks, are they musty, too?

Musty, just as her mind, unknown to its being –

A body full grown in youth, robust,

A skin, aglow but betraying,

Of sleepless nights.

 

The wind blew not in her hair,

But in crook of her elbow

Tasted the sweat in that hollow,

Savoured the sodium, disliked the self-doubt

Its flavour so nasty, the socks would win any day.

 

What looks like a trodden path to that home

May be nothing but a trap,

Hansel and Gretel getting her eaten

By the witch, as they’re getting eaten anyhow.

 

She was no hero, no saviour.

Free of sin not even a saint could be.

Where are we? Who are we?

Who is nice? Who is naught?

As if she were the first to ask these.

 

Agape she lay on the grass, yearning,

The grass, this time, yellower on the other side

This green grass of luxury, of knowledge,

Did not come without pains of doubt –

Pangs! One by one attacking everything she knew!

“Get out, get out, let me be what I always thought I would be!”

“Too late”, said Misery.

 

Her hair in a bun, a wig

To comfort bystanders that a lady did not truly have her locks shorn.

Her dress a pretense, above the wife-beaters she truly loved.

‘Wife-beaters’.  Oh, what a term.

 

Stability, security, solidity, sensibility –

The poured like rains of gold from that house.

A fence, a farm, a house, a barn,

What more could anyone want?

A separate quarter for the servants,

A chimney that would puff out dead turkeys sacrificed

In the name of sacrifice and friendship,

A large threshold to welcome large heads

With larger pearls adorning their chests

In their hands presents of shot tigers’ dead cells,

The ‘maids’ nodding their heads in assent, ringing bells –

What pretense! What glory!

 

There, lay another house.

This one had no chimney, no pompous doorway,

A flat plain wall did it have, with no fence of visitors

Horse-drawn vehicles had no parking here,

Come with an apple or take away one with a smile when you leave.

 

Did she deserve this house?

Is she so distraught she’s lost her mind?

Were they right? Were they?

To her more stable days she would rewind.

 

The spirit came to her while she lay awake

Staring into the abyss that stared back,

Gave her a kiss and looked mesmerized

“Why do you look –“she pondered?

 

It told her she was blind.

That she was lost, because she didn’t see –

It mattered not whether she was on the grass for nights galore,

It did not matter she knew not how she passed her days,

She was adamant, but the spirit was a goddamned fighter too –

“You exude grace”, it said.

There was no holding in of a breath,

There was no breath at all.

In that blink, the fan stopped revolving,

The words inked everything,

Wrote themselves on the wall,

The wall of a million fairy lights spun around recycled cycle wheels.

Everything would churn on its own.

 

She yearned for nothing.

She was Grace.

– Mariam Rauf

The Perception Maze

Recently we studied Perception. Why Perception? Why something as random as Perception? Well, epistemologically speaking, perception is pretty darn important particularly to the Indian schools of Philosophy. In this case, we were discussing Perception from the point of view of the Advaita Vedanta’s or to be politically correct, Dharmaraja Ardhawindra’s interpretation of the school’s ideology on Perception.

They believe in the existence of a three-fold consciousness, one limited by the mental mode or state which assumes the form of the object (vritti), one limited by the object and finally, one limited by the subject (you& me) itself. Consciousness here is discussed in perspective to the empirical or the transmigratory mind. Consciousness realised for its true self as eternal and infinite is as a result of the realisation of Brahman- the ultimate reality, thus  there is no reference to such a consciousness. Anyway, coming back to Perception, they believe it takes place when Consciousness limited by vritti coincides with consciousness limited by the object. While this may seem very intense, simply put, perception takes place when your mind becomes  conscious of an object. Funny enough, consciousness exists with respect to the object as well, so it is imperative that the two consciousnesses coincide with each other, if that wasn’t made clear earlier.
 

But what got me really interested was the fact that for a school that can be dated to the 17th century or even later, Adi Shankaracharya was receptive to the idea that perception isn’t something that is limited to the sense organs, it goes beyond that. What we apprehend around us isn’t limited to mere tangible objects such as an apple or a table; we also perceive people, situations, the world, emotions etc. The inclusion of this concept goes a long way in how we understand perception today. Regardless of whatever you perceive or how you perceive, the idea is immediate. Thus our knowledge of God is also immediate. This could be debated, can we really perceive God? And if so, is it immediate? I may not be the best judge of this but with a few incidents that I have encountered, it has gotten my head wired to the idea of a presence of God and the fact that the way I perceived it could be immediate. For example, entering a temple, the serenity that you’re immediately flushed with reminds you of the possible existence of God. Regardless of the hustle and bustle that happens outside the temple or the hundreds of people inside the temple, there’s no other place that I know of that has given me the composure that is yearned for elsewhere. The same idea is resonated when it comes to nature, when you become one with it and realise God’s inherence in it. This obvious perception regardless if it’s through one’s mind or sense organ is immediate. It doesn’t require the existence of another for its apprehension. 

 The Vedantin School has always fascinated me particularly for its far-fetched thinking. While I’m still in a conundrum as to how Perception could, out of the other six, be a means to realise Brahman. I admire its theories and I believe it still holds true even today. There are some theories that have evolved over time, but the Vedantin theories have in my opinion withstood the tests of time. As we progress further into Vedanta Paribhasha, I look forward to reading the Vedantin’s interpretation of the other means of valid knowledge! 

Namrata Kumar

The Reality of Reality

Perception. Seeing, hearing, touching, smelling. All sensations bundled up in one word-Perception. Our means to know the world. Let’s talk about the sensation which I think we use the most, seeing. It has become so essential to our everyday lives that we hardly ever think about it. We know everything usually by seeing it. I see the Eiffle tower and that’s how I know it, before touching it. Other sensations might happen before seeing, for example, I might smell a rose before I see it, but seeing something is usually the first perception we have of it. So let’s take it up as our case. Do we really see what we see? Does everything we see actually exists the same way we see it? Or is there a reality different from how it appears to us. These questions have baffled me since childhood, and now that I am studying these concepts in Philosophy, I feel relieved that I was not the only person who got confused about this.

Bertand Russell in his famous book, The Problems of Philosophy, gives his theory about perception. He takes a table. Now, we see the table and know about its shape, colour, size. But is the table the same in reality? Does it appear the same way to everyone? Not necessarily. Then isn’t what we see different from what really is the case? Let’s take the famous example of optical illusion, the Mirage. When we see water at a distance, we are sure of it really being there, but as soon as we reach there, it all disappears. We are once again deceived by our perception. And what about hallucination? Are we not convinced of our perception of something which is not there for real? Why does this happen? Is there actually a different reality than what we perceive?

Russell talked about this at length in his distinction between appearance and reality. How the table appears to me is different from how it appears to person X, because no two people in the world can have the same perspectives, and therefore, identical perception is not a possibility. So then there is a reality different from what we perceive as reality, and that in a nutshell expresses the everyday confusion of perception. Because, if our perception does not reveal to us the reality, which way do we know it? And when the knowledge of everything around us including the knowledge of the world is rooted in perception, isn’t everything we now to be real called under doubt?

So then we have the question, what is reality? Is there a world that lies beyond our everyday perception and is the real world? Is reality just my own collection of perceptions and ideas, or is there a world outside of me, beyond me? And if there is my world of perceptions and a world outside that, then how, if at all, can I get beyond these perceptions to know if they match up with reality? But is it possible for us to rise above our perception and see the world by establishing a relationship between the objects of the external world and ourselves, independent of our perception? And do the real world and its objects exist irrespective of my perception of them? The questions are endless and to answer them we need to understand the basic concept of metaphysical realism and epistemological realism.

According to an epistemological realist, even though we have perceptions, there must be an outside world that our perceptions represent, for otherwise we would not have those perceptions in the first place. Despite the fact that the mind can be very creative in making up all kinds of ideas in the imagination, there seem to be certain perceptions and ideas that could not have been generated by the perceiver. In other words, there must be some things “out there” that directly cause the representation of our perceptions “in here.” Whereas if you believe that there is a world of things “out there” that really do exist and would continue to exist whether or not you or anyone perceive them, then you are a metaphysical realist.

Eepistemological realism and Metaphysical realism both give us different approaches to understand and know that which is real. But ultimaltely, everything that we know to be real or is real, falls under Being. Hence, in the end, it’s all about the knowledge and understanding we have of Being-in-the-world, and how it presents itself to us in our everyday lives.

-Khushi Vijayvergiya

The accurate mystery of Determinism

“Suppose there was a book of your life. In the library of all possible books, there is a book which tells the truest tale it could be told of your life from the moment of your birth to the moment of your death. But there are also uncountably many books in that library of all the books which tell perfectly true story of your life upto this moment and then diverge in billions and billions of ways for each future. One of those books is the book of your life. Which one? Who knows? Impossible to tell until afterwards which one tells the truest story of your life.”

Daniel Dennett talks about Determinism in one of his interviews where he says the above lines. Determinism is the philosophical theory that for every event, including every human action, there exists a cause which cannot cause anything else but that effect. This theory is the central idea of Paulo Coelho’s celebrated book, ‘The Alchemist’. The book revolves around Santiago, a young boy who is on a quest to meet this alchemist who knows the secret of the sorcerer’s stone. On his journey through the desert and many cities he comes across many people and omens who tell him only one thing, maqbool, which means, it’s written. The book encapsulates the theory of determinism in this one beautiful word. The book is one of the best fiction reads about the theory of determinism and explains it on a spiritual tangent when Paulo Coelho writes that the entire universe conspires to make you achieve that which is written as yours. Maqbool, essentially defines the story.

I had read The Alchemist years ago, but I picked it up again after reading about the theory of causation in Indian philosophy, because I was surprised by it’s uncanny symmetry with the theory of determinism. The theory of causation says that every effect has in roots a cause. Now the effect can either be an entirely new entity, or it can be preconceived in the cause. This similarity between these two different schools of philosophy is striking. While determinism emphasizes upon a specific cause determining a particular action, Indian philosophy theorizes causation with the essential precedence of a cause before the effect.

For Dennett, human beings are biological devices that respond to the environment with rational, desirable courses of action. He believes that even if our brains are causally determined, it does not follow that we are not morally responsible for our behavior. Dennett argues that we base our decisions on context, gradually limiting our options as the situation becomes more specific.. If this is the case, then we have a huge question to solve. Human beings are considered to be rational agents who act out of their own free will. And Dennett says that our brains are causally determined. So do we really have a free will? If all our actions are determined, then how can we say that we did something out of free will? And if we do not act out of our free will, then how can we be held morally responsible for those actions?

The very nature of life on the planet is deterministic. From the process of breathing to natural phenomena like rain pouring down from the sky to the sprouts rising from the ground, everything is determined, everything has a cause. But what if the cause of an effect is in itself an effect of some other cause? And that cause the effect of some other cause? It is inevitable to then fall into an unending series of infinite regress till we reach the ultimate cause, if there is any. How do we know which is the ultimate cause? Is there an ultimate cause? If so then what is its nature? The questions never end, and we find ourselves on a seemingly unending quest to find the answers we find the answers. The theory of determinism is one of the most fascinating philosophical theories, because of its exactness and accuracy and the mystery associated to the cycle of causation. It is indeed a mystery which is accurate, because who knows, I might be writing this article as a result of some specific cause, which might be the result of some other cause and so on, let’s leave it here, or we would fall into an infinite regress again.

-Khushi Vijayvergiya