Centre for Philosophy

A Centre for Philosophy was set up at NIAS by Prof. Sundar Sarukkai in 2006. The inaugural lecture for this Centre was delivered by Prof Richard Sorabji, Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford and Emeritus Professor, King's College, London on 20th January 2006. Many activities were conducted by this Centre from 2006 to 2009.

About the Centre

Philosophy in India is in a state of crisis today. There are very few Universities which have a sustainable programme in philosophy. Philosophy teaching is restricted to a few colleges in the country whereas in the universities there is a dearth of both quality and quantity, with a few exceptions.

There are many deleterious consequences of this neglect of philosophy in the country. Primarily the intellectual health of a country should be gauged in terms of its philosophical traditions and practices, as much as the scientific and artistic traditions. Also, philosophy is essential for a good grounding in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and arguably for the natural sciences also.

Philosophy offers a rational tradition by which one can participate in the society in various ways. In India today, there is, on the one hand, a continued neglect of philosophy and on the other there is an upsurge of popular interest in philosophy primarily through the agencies of religion and spirituality. Although the latter are important cultural practices, philosophy as a discipline or even as a worldview cannot be subsumed under these practices alone.

Philosophy, not just as a discipline but also as a fundamental agent for both personal and social action, needs to be inculcated and promoted in societies, especially the civil society. In these days of rapid change, in the transformations entailed by the processes of globalisation, a society must equip itself with a 'philosophical temper', much like the emphasis on scientific temper that is now enshrined in the Indian constitution. Moreover there is great public interest in issues of philosophy. Often we hear from those who are not even in the academic field that their major interest is philosophy. The sales of popular philosophy books is another important indication of the desire of the larger public community to partake and participate in the philosophical discourses. The lack of academic training in philosophy has left a large number of ordinary citizens with no access to contemporary philosophical thinking, one which is influencing many new contemporary ideas in the world.

Since all disciplines draw upon philosophical themes, implicitly or explicitly, it is essential to have systems that will empower not only students but also the interested public to learn philosophy. Since philosophy is intrinsically linked with action there is a tangible and immediate benefit in supporting programs in philosophy. Almost all debates today - whether it is on ethics, development, poverty, education, alternative systems of knowledge, ideas of social justice, understanding of conflict and peace, etc., - all involve various philosophical ideas. A clearer understanding of these ideas would enable a more cohesive and rational social response to these issues. It would also help in the establishment of a deeper public discourse on these topics.

We cannot hope to solve the problems in philosophical teaching and research in the country immediately. However, it is time we addressed it in a sustained fashion. One such initiative has just been started at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. We have started a Centre for Philosophy primarily to help support and sustain philosophy in India. As part of its activities, we plan to focus on philosophy education both for students in philosophy and in other disciplines, primarily in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Also, there are programs for the public where public discussion of contemporary themes from a philosophical perspective will be arranged. Our outreach program in education extends to the colleges as well. Also, we want to create a coherent and networked community of philosophers in the country through visits and annual meetings. This will enable teachers and faculty members in colleges and universities to spend some time at the Centre using our library facilities and participating in research and teaching.

Some Basic Objectives

  • To support a culture of philosophy in the colleges and Universities.
  • To establish structures to enable philosophical thinking and practice in the larger society, including organizing public lectures and discussions on various philosophical themes of contemporary interest.
  • To promote teaching of philosophy in the vernacular, both in the urban and rural areas.
  • To conduct advanced summer schools for graduate and undergraduate students in philosophy.
  • To develop outreach programs in undergraduate colleges where courses in philosophy will be offered by guest faculty.
  • To create an infrastructure to enable students and faculty of all levels to visit the Centre for Philosophy at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in order to pursue research, participate in teaching and access the library facilities.
  • To enable networking of younger faculty and teachers in philosophy (and in general those in Humanities and Social Sciences) who will meet once a year in order to know about each others' work and create a sustainable network for future action.
  • To have eminent people from all over the world visit the Centre thereby fostering international cooperation in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences


  • 8-26 June 2009
    Fourth Summer School on Philosophy for the Social Sciences and Humanities
    (Sponsored by ICSSR Western Regional Centre, Mumbai)
  • 23-31 January 2009
    Advanced Winter School on Philosophy of Sciences
  • 17 September 2008- 
    Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy 
  • 2-20 June 2008
    Summer School on Philosophy of the Social Sciences and Humanities
    A three-week summer school for MA, MPhil and PhD students from all over the country will be held at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
  • 25-26 February 2008
    Symposium on History of Classical Indian Sciences
    The Poornaprajna Institute of Scientific Research along with the Centre for Philosophy, NIAS is
    organising this symposium
  • 2-7 November 2007
    Workshop on Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Science On Matter and Motion
    (Organised by the Centre for Philosophy, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore; Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda, Bihar and Sambasha, Kolkata)
    Dates: Friday, November 2 - Wednesday, November 7, 2007
    Place: Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda, Bihar
  • 4-22 June 2007

    The three-week summer course on "Philosophy for Social Sciences and Humanities" is being conducted at NIAS. The course is sponsored by the Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR). A total of around 40 participants are expected to attend this course. They represent different disciplines in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and come from all parts of the country.
  • 20 April 2007
    Speaker: Frits Staal 
    Philosopher and Indologist, University of California, Berkeley
    Title: Vedic Contributions to the Philosophy of Language
  • 19 April 2007
    Speaker: Frits Staal 
    Philosopher and Indologist, University of California, Berkeley
    Title: The Rigveda: Geography and History with a Note on Aptoryama
  • 13-19 October 2006
    Workshop on Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Science organised by the Center for Philosophy, NIAS along with the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Nalanda and Sambhasha, Kolkata.
  • 3 August 2006
    Public Lecture 
    Speaker: Prof Arindam Chakrabarti, Department of Philosophy, University of Hawaii
    Title: Phenomenology of Fun and Boredom
  • 1 August 2006 and 2 August 2006 @ 2 pm
    Discussion Meeting 
    Topic: Self-Luminosity and Reflexivity of Consciousness - A Debate between Dualist (VyAsatIrtha) and Non-dualist (Advaitasiddhi)
    Speakers: Prof D. Prahaladachar and Prof Godavarish Mishra
  • 19 July 2006 and 21 July 2006
    Two Lectures on Classical Indian Theories of Cognition 
    Speaker: Prof Arindam Chakrabarti
    Title: Can there be perception without concepts?
    Title: What is it to form, possess, and use concepts ?
  • 5 -23 June 2006
    Summer School 2006
  • 21 June 2006
    Associates' Programme
    Speaker: Prof D. N. Tripathi, Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research
    Title: Philosophy of History
  • 15 -16 April 2006
    Darshana Pravesha: A two-day Workshop on Philosophy Appreciation. Organised jointly by Ninasam, Heggodu and Centre for Philosophy, NIAS, Bangalore.
  • 14 March 2006 onwards, Every Tuesday from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m.
    Lecture Series on Philosophy of Science Organised by Management Studies, IISc and Centre for Philosophy, NIAS.
  • 20 January 2006
    Inaugural Lecture 
    Speaker: Prof Richard Sorabji, Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford and Emeritus Professor, King's College, London
    Title: Being true to yourself: the individual self versus the universal