The Author discusses and critically examines in this book some important philosophical, social, moral, political and cultural issues like the relation between law and morality: man’s responsibility for controlling environmental pollution; national unity and the rights of minorities; the nature of "Dharma" and its significance for human life; decision-making in moral and political matters; Mahatma Gandhi’s conception of "Varna-Dharma" and his philosophy of education; Swami Vivekananda’s view about human happiness and attachment; the impact of Kant’s moral philosophy on human society; self-interest and moral obligation; and the nature and justification of ethical judgments.
Besides discussing all these issues, the Author also makes a critical appraisal of some fundamental problems of the philosophy of religion, such as the nature and origin of religion and its role in human society; the meaning of "secularism" and a "secular state" with special reference to India; the nature, origin and efficacy of prayer for human life, and some philosophical difficulties about the theistic conception of prayer; the of evil or suffering in relation to theism; the knowledge of God’s existence based on religious experience; theism and its impact on human life; the intelligibility or meaningfulness of the statements pertaining to God etc.
Finally, wherever possible, the Author also explicitly presents in this book his own philosophy of life.
DR. Ved Prakash Varma is an eminent philosopher. He is former Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi. He was also Research Scientist in Humanities and Emeritus Fellow of the U.G.C. Dr. Varma has ten books and about sixty research papers to his credit. he has been awarded the prestigious Shankar Puraskar for 2003 for his work Bharatiya Tatha Pashchatya Darshan Maen Nireeshuvarvad.
Man is not only a social being, but also a rational being in the sense that he often reflects upon the objects and beings around him, the nature and origin of the universe, and the problems of his own life and the world. It is this rationality which distinguishes man from all other sentient beings and gives rise to such basic human pursuits as philosophy, science, religion, morality, art, literature etc. We can thus regard rationality as the essence of man without which he would lose his humanity and special importance in the world and would be no better than other animals.
It is this rational approach which I have adopted and advocated in all the essays contained in this book. These essays were written for various national and international seminars and conferences on philosophy during the long period of my research and teaching. I have expressed in these essays clearly and elaborately my personal views on some important socio-ethical, religious, political and philosophical issues which are not only relevant to the present-day world, but also are of perennial significance for human life. I have thoroughly edited and suitably modified all these essays before presenting them in the form of this book.
There are in this book twenty one essays which have been divided into two parts. The first part entitled "Socio-Ethical Philosophy" consists of thirteen essays which are concerned with philosophical, social, moral, political, educational and cultural issues of vital interest. They cover many important topics such as law and morality, Gandhiji's conception of "Varna-Dharma" and his philosophy of education, national unity and the rights of minorities, the role and significance of "Dharma" in human life, decision-making in moral and political matters, Swami Vivekananda's view about happiness and attachment, the impact of Kant's ethical philosophy on human society, man's self-interest and moral obligation etc. It is quite obvious from the above-mentioned topics that this part of the book may be interesting and useful not only for the students of philosophy and other social sciences, but also for the thoughtful general readers who are interested in social, ethical and political issues.
The second part, which is entitled "Philosophy of Religion", is devoted to the discussion of some fundamental problems pertaining to the philosophical aspects of all religions—whether they are primitive or advanced, theistic or non-theistic. This part contains eight essays dealing with such vital issues as the nature and origin of religion and its role in human society, the real meaning of "secularism" and a "secular state"—specially in relation to our own country, the nature and origin of prayer and its significance in human life and some philosophical difficulties concerning the theistic conception of prayer, the problem of evil or suffering in relation to theism, religious experience and the knowledge of God's existence, the impact of theism on human life and its philosophical problems, the intelligibility or meaningfulness of God-talk etc.
These essays may be of special interest to the students and teachers of philosophy of religion, since they cover many important topics pertaining to the study in this area of philosophy. Students and teachers may find some of these essays considerably helpful in comprehending some formidable problems in the field of philosophy of religion. Thus, this part of the book can be used both by the college and university students studying philosophy of religion and also by those who take examinations for the Indian Administrative Services. Some thoughtful general readers too may find the discussion of philosophical issues in this part interesting and thought-provoking.
I may add here that many essays presented in this book-specially in part II—explicitly express my own philosophy of life which I have always advocated and have sincerely endeavoured to live by. Positively speaking, this philosophy urges man to work for the good of all sentient beings; to alleviate their suffering as far as possible; to become self-dependent in the sense of striving to overcome all his serious problems and crises on his own without soliciting the help and grace of any imaginary divine being or beings; to enjoy his life to the maximum possible extent with moderation and self-restraint; to respect the dignity of all human beings and actively oppose their exploitation in all its forms. It also attaches the paramount importance to a rational and scientific outlook on life and the world. Negatively speaking, this philosophy finds no place for any supernatural or superhuman beings or entities such as God, soul, spirit, "other world", heaven, hell, devil, ghost etc. I believe that this naturalistic, humanistic, scientific and rationalistic philosophy alone can make human life really meaningful, happy and worth living. I have therefore argued for this philosophy in the present book wherever I have found it possible to do so.
I am well aware of the fact that some of the essays in this book may appear to be unpalatable and controversial to some readers, but I hope that these essays may also urge them to adopt a little more unorthodox approach and give more serious thought to the issues concerned. If some of my philosophical reflections in the present book provoke among thoughtful readers a serious discussion on some moral, social, political and religious issues, I would regard my attempt as successful and worthwhile.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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