#TNAOT (The New And Old Together, January 05, 2019):
Is repair a form of creation? When can the new and the old coexist? Is the idea of ‘new’ itself, human and, new? Is this understanding always subject/context dependent? Why don’t we sometimes notice the new? What’s new for the deer in the savannah? Is memory history? When is the old also obsolete? Do events have both a past and a future? How is the past unlike an object? Did capitalism ‘create’ time? Did modernity change both the object and the subject? How do certain societies break away from the past more easily? How can the erased be recovered? Does language often carry traces of the past? When are myths essential? Why was the old found to be necessary for the Meiji Restoration? Is Viśhwákarma Brahmā? Why do Nations want to be timeless? Is the grammar of the evolutionary past neuro-anatomically encoded in us? Similarly, are some vestiges of older social forms always present in the present? What cannot be repaired? Do we really need a ‘new’ future? Is old/new an either/or choice? Must we think of new and old as different ways of being? How might one find (realistic) choices to radically new problems? &, will we disappear again? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from cognitive sciences (Dr. Rajesh Kasturirangan, ClimateX, Boston), history & philosophy (Dr. Viren Murthy, UW-Madison, Madison), & anthropology (Dr. Abhijeet Paul, UC Berkeley, Berkeley).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TNAOT show.
Dr. Rajesh Kasturirangan (cognitive sciences) is the co-founder at ClimateX, which has recently transitioned into MIT Climate Portal, a gateway to all the work happening across MIT on climate change, as well as a place for worldwide discussion and learning. He was a co-coordinator at the Mind and Society Initiative, Azim Premji University (APU, 2011-2017), and also headed the Cognition Program at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS Bangalore, 2006-2015). His research interests are in the fields of mathematics and cognitive science. Dr. Kasturirangan completed his M.Sc. (Mathematics) from IIT Kanpur (1993), then received his first Ph.D. in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin Madison (USA, 1998), and the second Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA, 2004). He was also the visiting scholar at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Institute For Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton (USA, 2003-2004). Dr. Kasturirangan has worked on the semantics of prepositions, cognitive approaches to knowledge and consciousness and in bringing Indian philosophical ideas to contemporary theories of mind. More recently, he’s been thinking that cognitive science is really cognitive biology, and that cognitive ideas are applicable even to seemingly non-mental creatures (say, bacteria, Peepal). He is also interested in complex sociotechnical systems, especially in the context of politically fraught challenges such as climate change. Dr. Kasturirangan has received multiple fellowships/awards, including, Copeland Fellowship, Amherst College (2005), and the Burnett Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (MIT, 1999-2001).
Dr. Viren Murthy (history, philosophy) is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. His research interests are transnational Asian History, Chinese and Japanese intellectual history. His particular area of focus concerns critiques of capitalism and modernity. In this context, he is interested in postcolonialism and Marxism. Dr. Murthy completed his B.A. (Philosophy, 1990) from the Lake Forest College (USA), his M.A. (Philosophy) from University of Hawaii at Manoa (1992), and then received his Ph.D. in History from University of Chicago (2007). He has also earlier taught at University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. During the academic years 2016-2018, he was a Fellow at the Berggruen Institute for Philosophy and Culture, California, USA. Dr. Murthy is the author/co-editor of five books; these are titled: ‘The Political Philosophy of Zhang Taiyan: The Resistance of Consciousness’ (Brill, 2011), ‘The Challenge of Linear Time: Nationhood and the Politics of History in East Asia’ (co-edited with Axel Schneider, Brill, 2013), ‘A Companion to Global Historical Thought’ (co-edited with Prasenjit Duara and Andrew Sartori, Blackwell, 2014), ‘East Asian Marxisms’ (co-edited with Joyce Liu, Routledge, 2017), and ‘Confronting Capital: Rethinking the Kyoto School of Philosophy’ (co-edited with Fabian Schäfer and Max Ward, Brill, 2017). He has also published articles in journals such as Modern Intellectual History, Modern China, Frontiers of History in China, and Positions: Asia Critique. Dr. Murthy is currently working on a project tentatively entitled: Pan-Asianism and the Conundrums of Post-colonial Modernity.
Dr. Abhijeet Paul (anthropology) is a Lecturer in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies (SSEAS) at University of California (UC), Berkeley (USA). He also teaches summer courses in Global Studies and in the Berkeley College of New Media, both at UC Berkeley. Previously, he has taught in University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Middlebury College, and Berkeley City College (USA). His research interests are technology and ethics, ethnography, social and critical theory, cinema and globalization, philosophical anthropology, media and cultural theory, new media and democracy, South Asian literatures and cultures, comparative literature, & American literature. Dr. Paul received his B.A. in English from St. Xavier’s College (Kolkata), and then completed his M.A. in English from University of Calcutta. He received his first Ph.D. in English (American Literature, 2003) on the post-1950s writings of Kurt Vonnegut and others from the University of Calcutta. He then finished his second Ph.D. (2015) in SSEAS at UC Berkeley on technology, ethics, and community in jute cultures. He is currently finishing his monograph on jute cultures, technology, and ethics called Patchwork technologies: work, ethics, and community in South Asia. He has taught a wide range of Anglophone literary and cultural texts and South Asian literature and culture. He is currently translating an iconic Bengali jute novel, ‘Jagaddal’, by Samaresh Basu and directing a docu-feature, on jute craft and poetics in Kolkata, which is now in post-production. He has been interviewed by New Philosopher on work, technology, and ethics and is a regular book reviewer for Critical Inquiry.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TNAOT mentions: Homer, Immanuel Kant, G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, K. C. Bhattacharyya, Vera Zassoulich, Nicholas Negroponte, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, & Vivek Chibber, among others.