#TAAF (The Alienation And Freedom, December 09, 2017):

Are you free if thoughts just occur to you? Is alienation – as loss of a sense of belonging and subjectivity – a phenomenon of modernity? Is freedom contra-causal and spontaneous? Is it truly in human nature to be free? Are people ‘already’ free? Do you exercise your freedom in the Market? Is all of production voluntary? Is production a form of fulfillment? Is leisure (without work), then, a threat to freedom? Are you overworked and overspent? Are your desires yours? Are we accumulating ‘garbage’? Why don’t consumers go on strike? Are we biologically and socially constrained? Is there a connection between language and freedom? Are you able to put together disjoint concepts out of a context? Does language create possibilities? Can notions of freedom also be propagandized? Do you think of the mountains as Gods? Is freedom (along with the ability to act) essential for survival of the human species? Is it sufficient to think that one is free to be free? Is it necessary (?) to end Capital, as we know it, to save ourselves? Can you conceive of the end of the world? Is the future just like the past? Will we exercise our angelhood? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from philosophy (Prof. Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University, New York), economics (Dr. Arjun Jayadev, Azim Premji University, Bangalore), & linguistics & philosophy (Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherji, ex-University of Delhi, New Delhi).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TAAF show.

Prof. Akeel Bilgrami (philosophy) is currently the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy & the Faculty member of the Committee on Global Thought at the Columbia University, New York, USA. He was the Chairman of the Philosophy Department (1994-1998), the Director of the Heyman Center for the Humanities (2004-2011), and the Director of the South Asian Institute (2013-2016). Prof. Bilgrami also worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before joining Columbia University in 1985. He completed a B.A. (English Literature) from Bombay University & then went to Oxford University (UK) as a Rhodes Scholar, where he completed another B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics. He then received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of Chicago, where his dissertation was titled ‘Meaning as Invariance’, focusing on the subject of the indeterminacy of translation and issues concerning realism and linguistic meaning. His research interests are philosophy of mind and language, political philosophy and moral psychology especially as they surface in politics, political economy, history, and culture. He has published numerous books, including, ‘Belief and Meaning’ (Blackwell, 1992), ‘Self-Knowledge and Resentment’ (Harvard University Press, 2006), ‘Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment’ (Harvard University Press, 2014), & ‘Politics and The Moral Psychology of Identity’ (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). He has also edited three books titled, ‘Democratic Culture’ (Routledge, 2011), ‘Gandhi, Marx, and Modernity’ (Tulika, 2013), & ‘Who’s Afraid of Academic Freedom’ (Columbia, 2014). He has published over fifty articles concerning philosophy & theoretical issues in politics and culture in periodicals and journals such as, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, Philosophical Perspectives, Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), Critical Inquiry, Nous, & Postcolonial Studies. Prof. Bilgrami also regularly speaks widely around the world on various academic and public fora.

Dr. Arjun Jayadev (economics) is an Associate Professor of Economics at the School of Liberal Studies at Azim Premji University (APU), Bangalore. He has also worked as an Associate Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts (UMass), Boston, USA (2005-2017), as a Fellow at Roosevelt Institute, New York, USA (2009-2011), & as the visiting research Fellow at the Columbia University Committee on Global Thought, New York, USA (2007-2009). He holds a B.A. in Economics & Management from University of London, London, & completed his Ph.D. in Economics from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. His research interests are economics & development, with focus across multiple areas such as, macroeconomics (especially issues of debt, balance sheets, the political economy of finance and central banking and macroeconomic policy choices), income distribution and inequality (primarily classical approaches to distribution, and group based inequalities), intellectual property, and the economics of power. He has also been closely involved with the CORE economics project (Curriculum Open-Access Resources for Economics), which is a group of scholars engaged in the production of high-quality resources for the teaching of economics, distributed free of charge worldwide under a Creative Commons license. At CORE, he has developed its first unit, ‘The Capitalist Revolution’, with Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin. Dr. Jayadev is also the co-editor of ‘The Journal of Globalization and Development’ since 2013 & works closely as a consultant with Institute of New Economic Thinking, New York, USA. He has been awarded the Solomon Barkin Award for Excellence in Research (UMass Amherst, 2003), & the  inaugural John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Excellence in Research from the UMass Amherst’s Department of Economics (2005). He also won the IEDRA ExIm Bank Award for Best Dissertation (2007).

Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherji (linguistics, philosophy) retired as Professor from the Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi (DU), New Delhi and was the National Visiting Professor for the Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR, 2015-2016). He has also been a visiting Professor at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS, Shimla, 2012), Maison des Sciences de L’Homme (Paris, 2000, 2003 & 2008), Jadavpur University (Kolkata, 2002), University of Waterloo (Canada, 1993), & IIT Kanpur (1992). He has also been a Professor & Chair, Department of Philosophy & Comparative Religion, Viswa-Bharati University (Santiniketan, West Bengal, 1998-1999). Prof. Mukherji completed his B.Sc. (Physics) from Calcutta University, an M.A. (Philosophy) from Viswa-Bharati University, & his Ph.D. (Philosophy) from University of Waterloo. He has also been a Distinguished Fellow at Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University (2009), & a Fellow at IIAS Shimla on several occasions (1987, 1997, 2013). His research interests encompass areas such as: philosophy of science, epistemology, classical philosophy of language, cognitive science, foundation of biolinguistics, nature of musical organization, concept of human mind, internalist approaches on human language, character of philosophical practice, peace, justice & human rights. Prof. Mukherji has published six books, including, ‘The Cartesian Mind: Reflections on Language and Music’ (IIAS, Shimla, 2000), ‘The Architecture of Language by Noam Chomsky’ (Co-editor, OUP, New Delhi, 2000), ‘The Primacy of Grammar’ (The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2010), ‘Reflections on Human Inquiry: Science, Philosophy, and Common Life’ (Springer, 2017), & ‘The Maoists in India: Tribals Under Siege’ (Pluto Press, 2012). He is working on his fifth book, tentatively titled ‘Merge and Mind’. He has extensively published in journals such as, Seminar, Indian Social Science Review, Economic & Political Weekly (EPW), & Proceedings of American Philosophical Association.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TAAF mentions: Rene Descartes, Karl Marx, Thomas Nagel, Ivan Goncharov, Noam Chomsky, Bernie Sanders, Daniel Dennett, Elizabeth Spelke, Juliet Schor, & Evo Morales, among others.