#TWOK (The Ways Of Knowing, October 18, 2014)

SynTalk thinks about the concept and process of ‘knowing’ and tries to understand ‘how we know what we know’. What is common knowledge (lokavidya), and is it largely phenomenologically acquired? If science is born out of common knowledge, then how do counterintuitive concepts come to be known? The concepts are derived off / from Kant, Marx, Pramatha Nath Bose, Benoy Kumar Sarkar, Poincare, Zilsel, Conan Doyle, Popper, Polanyi, D’Ambrosio, McLuhan, Gettier, Febvre, Needham, Ellul, Monge, Vance Packard, Chomsky, Said, and Kancha Ilaiah, among others. How do we really know today that the sun is in the centre of the solar system, & links with Sherlock Holmes, realism, & positivism. How keeping earth in the centre became mathematically unwieldy. What is knowledge, reason, belief, and Justified True Belief (JTB)? How did hierarchy set in between (say) pottery and weaving? Is cognitive differentiation produced via social differentiation of labour? What is the impact of loss of agriculture as a form of life? Does / how artisanal knowledge lead to abstract knowledge, and what is the interplay between theory and praxis? How does media decide what is worth knowing (agenda setting), and is the internet selfish with a will of its own? How technologies produce skepticism. Does something exist if it is not on internet and big databases (why grant patent for neem)? What is ‘generalized calculus of all curves’ a product of, and is mathematics also embedded within social norms? The new modes of production of knowledge. Does more information on candidates change voter behaviour? Will knowing remain ‘centered’? Will all knowledge become some kind of folk epistemology (with limited ethnocentrism?)? The SynTalkrs are: Dr. Amit Basole (economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston), Prof. Dhruv Raina (history & philosophy of science, JNU, Delhi), & Dr. N. Bhaskara Rao (social sciences, media studies, Center for Media Studies, Delhi).

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

Dr. Amit Basole (economics, neuroscience) is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he teaches Development Economics and Political Economy. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to switching to Economics, he did a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Duke University where his research was on the neurophysiological basis of visual perception. He combines Marxian and Gandhian approaches in his work. His current areas of research are poverty and inequality, political economy of class and gender, the economics of lokavidya, and Eurocentrism and social thought. His Ph.D. dissertation work examined two comparatively understudied aspects of India’s informal economy: production and transfer of knowledge among informal firms, and gender disparities among self-employed and piece-rate workers. He has conducted fieldwork among weavers in Banaras as well as street vendors in Mumbai. He works actively with organizations such as Vidya Ashram and Sanhati. In his spare time he pursues an interest in classical Urdu and Indo-Persian poetry.

Prof. Dhruv Raina (philosophy, science, history) is Professor at the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies School of Social Sciences in JNU, Delhi. He studied physics at IIT Bombay, Mumbai, and received his Ph.D. in the area of philosophy of science from Göteborg University. His research areas are history and philosophy of science, science technology & development policy, social history of knowledge & higher education in modern India, historiography of sciences & mathematical proof. Over the last couple of years he has been working on the cultures of history and science policy in postcolonial South Asia, and the social theory of science and mathematics. In particular his research focusses upon the institutionalisation of science in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well contemporary concerns of science and social movements. He has been a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin and the first incumbent of the Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History at Heidelberg University. [Note: Also a SynTalkr on #TDAL (The Darkness Around Light)]

Dr. N. Bhaskara Rao (media studies, market research) is founder Chairman of the 25 year old Centre for Media Studies (CMS) and Marketing & Development Research Associates (MDRA), a market research and forecasting outfit. Dr. Rao has three post graduate degrees and a Ph.D. from University of Iowa (1970), USA. He is an independent analyst, strategic advisor on public policies, public opinion, reforms process, mood of situations, and media trends. He and his team have been doing pioneering work in social research and monitoring & evaluation and rating methodologies. He is also a Social Audit expert having been the Convenor of India’s first two Social Audit Panels. He is the prime mover of BREAD (Basic Research in Education & Development) which gives scholarships to poor-needy and for setting up children libraries to rejuvenate primary education in Government schools (already set up 600 libraries). He pioneered psephology based election studies in India. Over the years he has been advocating synergies between computer, broadcasting and telecom technology policies.

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

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