Author: Prof. Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

What is Happiness?: Various Scholars Agree that it is not Evil Pleasure – II

Reading Time: 7 minutesAccording to Aristotle, pleasure is just not the right thing to focus on in a normative account of the good life for a human being. Some pleasures are bad; evil people take pleasure in their evil behaviour. Happiness, by contrast, is a normative notion: since it is constitutive of what we understand as “the human […]

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What is Happiness: English vs. European Concepts – I

Reading Time: 6 minutesNietzsche understood happiness to be a state of pleasure and contentment and expressed his scorn for Englishmen who pursued that goal rather than richer goals involving suffering for a noble end. Unaware of the richer English tradition concerning happiness that Wordsworth’s poem embodied, he simply took English ‘happiness’ to be what Bentham said it was. […]

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What is Man?: Reality is a Symbolic Creation – VI

Reading Time: 6 minutesThe assumption underlying the notion that so-called reality confrontation is an antidote to Phantasy is: there is one true reality; it is possible to know it directly, independently of any imaginative apprehension or valuation of it. But it would seem instead that all knowledge of reality is symbolically mediated. Reality is always a symbolic creation. […]

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Amarnatha Jha: A Quintessential English Gent, an Exemplary Teacher, Respected Vice Chancellor

Reading Time: 3 minutesAshoka pays rich tributes to an exemplary teacher, an outstanding scholar, and an able administrator Prof. Amarnatha Jha, on his 63rd death anniversary, on Sept 2 (Saturday). He was Vice Chancellor of Allahabad University for three terms and that of Banaras Hindu University. He seemed to convey the impression of a snobbish quintessential English gent but […]

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What is Man?: A Shared System of Symbols Necessary for Cooperative Action – IV

Reading Time: 6 minutesA shared system of symbols is the necessary condition for cooperative action. Science uses prepositional language. Art uses poetic language. History, which examines man’s past to judge or sanction his actions, or law, which sanctions, uses rhetorical language. Religion uses ethical language. Each type of language, as a special mode of persuasion, locates or appeals […]

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What is Man?: Symbols, Language, Mind, Communication & Social Realities – III

Reading Time: 6 minutesLanguage is a mode of persuasion, a means by which men obtain the cooperation of one another. The mind is largely a linguistic product, constructed of social realities— patterns of cooperation — and the communicative materials creating and maintaining such patterns. Here’s the third part of the six-part series, by Prof. Ashoka, in the weekly […]

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Gorakhpur Hospital Deaths: Passing the Buck is no Answer to Grim Tragedy

Reading Time: 7 minutesThe scarcity of oxygen due to non-payment of bills caused deaths of nearly 70 children in Gorakhpur. A parent came up with a heart-wrenching tale of the attending doctor not providing him with a death certificate after his child had passed away. Under the circumstances, it would be very difficult to get at the whole […]

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What is Man?: The Duality of Symbolism and Reality – II

Reading Time: 6 minutesAn entity that conveys symbolic meaning has symbolic and non-symbolic aspects. In its non-symbolic aspects, it is the vehicle or medium through which the symbolic meaning is objectified or achieves concrete form. A symbolic form is an organisation of such entities, embodying a particular orientation, or giving a particular distinctive form, to experience.  Language, myth, […]

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Why are Literary Scholars on the Defensive?

Reading Time: 13 minutesThe literary scholars are on the defensive. The battles of today are not being fought in the lecture halls or classrooms, and the combatants tend to be armed with heavier ordnance than arguments. It’s (still) the economy, stupid, and professors of literature find themselves once again marginalised in a culture that neither heeds their critiques […]

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