Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, February 19, 2010

World Day of Social Justice

The first World Day of Social Justice, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly last November, will be observed on Friday 20 February 2009.

Social justice is a concept that some use to describe the movement towards a socially just world. In this context, social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution, policies aimed toward achieving that which developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity and equality of outcome than may currently exist in some societies or are available to some classes in a given society.

"To understand "social justice," we must contrast it with the earlier view of justice against which it was conceived -- one that arose as a revolt against political absolutism. With a government (e.g., a monarchy) that is granted absolute power, it is impossible to speak of any injustice on its part. If it can do anything, it can't do anything "wrong." Justice as a political/legal term can begin only when limitations are placed upon the sovereign, i.e., when men define what is unjust for government to do. The historical realization traces from the Roman senate to Magna Carta to the U.S. Constitution to the 19th century. It was now a matter of "justice" that government not arrest citizens arbitrarily, sanction their bondage by others, persecute them for their religion or speech, seize their property, or prevent their travel. " -------Barry Loberfeld

The World Day of Social Justice will contribute to the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.

UNDP Annual Report 2009
Social Justice Organizations

Social Justice Handbook: Small Steps for a Better World (Bridgeleader Books)Social Justice: Theories, Issues, and Movements (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)Social Justice (Blackwell Readings in Philosophy)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Global Warming and Humanity

I have an intuition...I think that world war three is near...Somewhere in mid 20s when global warming will start showing it's effect in our daily lives..when most of the coastal lands will be under water..and when natural resources will become scarce..IT IS THEN that the human nerve will be tested to it's limit...IT IS THEN that human world will fall prey to the human needs...and IT IS THEN that our mother will be forced back into the stone age.

Will the human species survive the "third stroke of madness"? YES. But the survived mass will regret their survival.....

Resources on Global warming:
The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climate ScientistsClimate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global WarmingAn Inconvenient TruthGlobal Warming Mug

Friday, January 22, 2010

What happened at Copenhagen

So after all that planning, debating, and negotiating, what exactly happened at Copenhagen? Three big things, actually:
  • All but five countries “took note” of the final climate proposal. Countries that recognized the proposal have until the end of January to register their plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change impacts already occurring. Even then, the final document is not binding; signing it is more an act of goodwill. We look forward to the next climate conference in Mexico in December, when countries will reconvene to try locking the proposal down.

  • The United States, China, and India all pledged to cut their carbon output by 2020. The U.S. promised a 17% reduction in emissions, while China committed up to 45% and India set a 24% target in their carbon intensity. The difference? Carbon intensity measures the amount of energy used to produce one unit of economic growth, making it a comparable guideline for developing countries.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States will help mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to address developing countries’ climate change needs. Specifically, the funds will focus on adaptation (to cope with the impact of global warming) and mitigation (to reduce emissions specifically).

For more information:
  1. United Nations Foundation
  2. Copenhagen Climate Council
  3. COP 15
  4. The Copenhagen Paradox

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Copenhagen paradox

The Copenhagen summit will generate more carbon emissions than any previous climate conference, equivalent to the annual output by 2,300 Americans or 660,000 Ethiopians. Delegates, journalists, activists and observers from almost 200 countries have gathered at the December 7-18 summit and their travel and work will create 46,200 tonnes of CO2, most of it from their flights to Copenhagen. This would nearly fill 10,000 Olympic swimming pools. The calculation includes emissions caused by accommodation, local transport, electricity and heating of the conference centre, paper, security, transport of goods and services as well as energy used by computers, kitchens, photocopiers and printers at the conference centre. About 18,000 people are expected to pass through the conference centre everyday.

This article was published in ' The Telegraph' on 16 December 2009.
image courtesy:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Buddha Philosophy

Buddha was primarily an ethical preacher and not a metaphysical one. He always tried to enlighten persons on the question of sorrow, its origin, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation - the four noble truths. He repeatedly told his disciples: "Two things only, my disciples, do I teach - misery and the cessation of misery"

The four noble truths are -
(1) There is suffering.
(2) There is a cause of suffering.
(3) There is cessation of suffering.
(4) There is a way leading to this cessation of suffering.

Why do we suffer misery and pain? Why do we suffer old age and death? Because we are born. Why are we born? Because there is a will to be born. Why should there be this will to become? Because we cling to the objects of the world. Why do we have this clinging? Because we carve to enjoy the objects of this world. Why do we have this carving, this thirst for enjoyment? Because of sense experience. Why do we have this sense experience? Because of sense object-contact. Why do we have this contact? Because of the six sense organs ( the sixth sense being the mind). Why do we have the six sense organs? Because of the psycho-physical organism. Why do we have this organism? Because of the initial consciousness of the embryo. Why do we have this consciousness? Because of our predispositions or impressions of Karma? Why do we have these impressions? Because of ignorance. Hence ignorance is the root cause of suffering.

Thus we get the twelve links of the causal wheel of dependant origination ie we are dependant on the material objects and sense experiences for our existence. This the the vicious circle of causation according to Buddha.

The noble eight-fold path leading to cessation of suffering:
  1. Right faith
  2. Right resolve
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right living
  6. Right effort
  7. Right thought
  8. Right concentration
NIRVANA : Just as a lamp when it becomes extinguished goes neither hither or thither, neither to the earth nor to the sky, neither to this direction not to that, it has been utterly blown out on account of the oil being consumed; similarly a person obtains Nirvana when the desires and passions have been consumed; he goes neither this way nor that, but obtains utter peace. The very word Nirvana means 'blowing out'.

To know more about Buddha and Buddhism please visit:
Buddhist Philosophy: Essential ReadingsAn Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Am I Lost????

In search of knowledge
I lost wisdom;
In search of wisdom
I lost humanity;
In search of humanity
I lost touch with divinity.

I look above
And I see no heaven;
I look within
And i see no buddha.

Am I lost ???
Or am I just another mortal being ???

Importance of Poetry

President John F. Kennedy, in speaking at Amherst college on a day honouring poet Robert Frost, said : "The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as in dispensable, especially when the questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use the power or power uses us". And "When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. ....for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgement".
101 Great American Poems (Dover Thrift Editions)The Seashell Anthology of Great PoetrySelections from American poetry, with special reference to Poe, Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier

Monday, November 23, 2009

The relevance of Philosophy in the contemporary world

note: major parts of this article has been directly taken from Will Durant's book "The story of philosophy".
Philosophy and philosophers have been abused many a times and in many different ways in the past. Some have dubbed philosophy to be as useless as chess, as obscure as ignorance and as stagnant as content. "There is nothing so absurd", says Cierco, "but that it may be found in the books of the philosophers". Doubtless some philosophers have had all sorts of wisdom except common sense, but each philosopher has some lessons for us, if we approach him properly. "Do you know", asks Emerson, "the secret of the true Scholar? In every man there is something wherein i may learn from him and in that I'm his pupil".
Philosophy, like science, is a rational project. A philosopher aspires, and pretends, to reach his conclusion by logical argument commencing from assumption which would be readily accepted by any reasonable person. 'WONDER' is the genesis of both science and philosophy with science taking the more empirical road to understanding and philosophy the more conceptual. But, philosophy accepts the hard and hazardous task of dealing with problems not yet open to the method of science - problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death.
Science does not inquire into the values and ideal possibilities of things, nor into their total and final significance; it is content to show their present actuality and operation; it narrows it's gaze resolutely to the narure and process of things as they are. This approach has led to an overflow of materialistic human knowledge which has become unmanageably vast; every science has begotten a dozen more, each subtler than the rest; the telescope revealed stars and systems beyond the mind of man to number and name; geology spoke in terns of millions of years, where man before had thought in terms of thousands; physics found a universe in the atom, and biology found a microcosm in the cell; physiology discovered inexhaustible mystery in every organ, and psychology in every dream; theology crumbled, and political theory cracked; inventions complicated life and war, and economic creeds overturned governments and inflamed the world; philosophy itself, which had once summoned all sciences to it's aid in making a coherent image of the world and an alluring picture of the good, found it's task of coordination too stupendous for it's courage, ran away from all these battlefronts of truths, and hid itself in recondite and narrow lanes, timidly secure from the issues and responsibilities of life. Human knowledge had become too great for the human mind. All that remained was the scientific specialist, who knew "more and more about less and less" and the philosophical speculator, who knew "less and less and more and more". The gap between life and knowledge grew wider and wider; those who governed could not understand those who thought, and those who wanted to know could not understand those know. The common man found himself forced to choose between a scientific priesthood mumbling unintelligible pessimism, and a theological priesthood mumbling incredible hopes.
In this situation the function of philosophical teachings is clear - to mediate between the specialist and the nation, in order to break the barrier between knowledge and need; to find new truths and express it in simpler terms so that all literate people might understand; and to stop the process of moral nihilism where morality is seen as mere human construct and therefore completely arbitrary and mutable.
We face today an unprecedented set of problems relating to environment, the coming One World Order and the ongoing process of spiritual decline.We stand at the Abyss, at the steadily approaching threshold of unimaginable chaos, calamity, death and destruction. But there exists a lasting solution to these issues facing humankind. It derives from the notion of power of ideas and an idea so powerful that it's effect upon the World will be most profound. And that one idea is to be found only in the unexplored world of philosophy. So let's grab a Carribean pirate ship and start our journey into the unknown thereby initiating the Renaissance of the 21st century.
To know more about Will Durant please visit
The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest PhilosophersThe Lessons of HistoryHeroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern AgeThe Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Value of Philosophy

Note: this article is authored by Dr. Maina Sharma, HoD, Philosophy department, B Borooah college, Guwahati. It was published in a local daily on the eve ofWorld Philosophy Day”.

The present age is described by many as the age of uncertainty and confusion. Many of us are uncertain about so many things around us. We are uncertain about the best form of government, about the best economic and social system, about what things are right and what things are wrong. We seem to be confused whether people are better behaved today than they were at the time of our forefathers and so on and so forth. This spirit shows itself not only in the actual state of public affairs but also in the general attitude towards fundamental values in personal and social life. Scientists like Max Planck says that these systems mark the beginning of a great renaissance, but there are others who see it in them the tidings of downfall to which our civilization is destined. At any rate, this seems to be a transitional age, and is full of danger as well as promise, rich in possibilities. The times of certainty are also the times of stagnation. When we know what to think we cease to think. Evidently, it is a time for reflective thinking, and this is what philosophy is. No dates, formulas or rules need be memorized. Without relying on unnecessary jargon and technicalities, philosophy lands us into central, profound areas of human concern. The only important prerequisite is an enquiring mind. Philosophical questions grow out of a kind of thinking that we do when we ask ourselves whether something we believe or accept is reasonable to believe or accept.

The idea of philosophy as a rational questioning of our beliefs is as old as human civilization itself. It is developed above all from Socrates in the Athens in the fifth century B.C. He entered into dialogue which was his preferred way of doing philosophy and numbed those he talked to, because his object was, at least in the first instance to show that they did not know what they thought they did. With the ultimate aim of obtaining knowledge, philosophy challenges and makes people realize that what they take for granted is not necessarily true.

The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty and critical attitude. There is no straight answer to the questions of philosophy. Philosophers like Socrates do not rush into saying that know this or that; they step back and think about things. But here a sceptical worry surfaces. Is philosophy for that very reason does not matter? Philosophy matters a lot to make us aware of the importance of some questions, to examine all the approaches to them, and to keep alive that speculative interest in the universe which is apt to be killed by confining ourselves to definitely ascertainable knowledge.

There is no more important exercise of human rationality than philosophical reasoning. It can reach to the foundation of our beliefs, thoughts and expose them what they are, solid or shaky, good or bad. A belief whose reasons have been examined deeply enough to reach the level of philosophical questioning rests on a firmer foundation than one that has been examined less thoroughly. This makes philosophy knocking at everyone's doors though this does not mean that everyone should become a professional philosopher. Every human being, befitting the name, wants assurance that our beliefs are well grounded.

None can thus escape philosophy once they start questioning themselves, their assumptions, beliefs and practices. The question as to whether one shall or shall not enter upon the domain of philosophy was settled long ago by Aristotle when he said, “Whether we will philosophize or whether we won't philosophize, we must philosophize.” Consciously or unconsciously everyone frames for himself a theory of the relation of the individual to the universe and on his attitude to that question his whole life and conduct, public and private depends. In the present time, philosophy cannot afford to be packed off to the sidelines intellectual life. It must regain its place in the heart of our lives making us aware of our goals, the reasons for pursuing them, and give us consistency in their pursuit. It has to help us to match our reasoning to the reality confronting us. This cannot be possible without a rigorous examination even of the things we take most for granted. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite, infinite and obvious; common objects rouse no questions and unfamiliar possibilities enlarging our thoughts are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, a new horizon of possibilities opens up enriching out intellectual imagination and removing the somewhat arrogant dogmatism which closes the mind against speculation.

Philosophy as a way of sharpening our thinking is a cleansing act, an act of purifying the intellect. By imposing its strict demand for consistency, philosophy tightens up our standards of knowledge guiding us in concrete real life situations. It is because of this, educationalists favour introductory classes in philosophy even for those whose primary intentions are to study other subjects. The pencil needs to be sharpened before it can write with sufficient care about other topics. Philosophy as a critical survey of existence from the standpoint of value, provides the kind of insight, the most concretely needed thing of the present time. An engineer today whose knowledge is restricted only to technical matters of engineering, or a physician whose competence extends only to the substance matter of medical training, is ill-prepared to understand even the basic problem that face his profession. These there is thus a demand for a new ethical, legal, economic and political wisdom in the affairs of government which can prove as an useful antidote to the arrogance produced by dwelling on the apparent progress of the society in the fields of science, economics, etc.. If we are truly to love wisdom (the word “philos” in Greek means the love of wisdom), we cannot afford to live in a world of illusion. Our anguished time will cry aloud for new visions. If by philosophy we mean the search for wisdom, the appraisement of values, the careful logical analysis of concepts, it seems to be just what the world needs now for the preservation of the life of humanity.

The Problems of PhilosophyA History of Western PhilosophyApology: On the Death of SocratesThe Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers