Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

HSS Seminar

Human Reality


Prof Nirmalangshu Mukherji

March 31, 2017 (Friday) at 11 AM

Venue:  Lecture Hall 2.



Our knowledge of the external world is central to our lives as rational agents as we engage with the world in every step we take. How can there be an external world if the knowledge we have of it is determined by how we are designed as epistemic agents?  The problem affects the advanced sciences the most due to the referential norm: science aims to discover basic joints of nature. If the world itself is a construction of science, what is there to discover? However, there is also the striking fact that the human mind can find mathematical forms all over nature. These joints suggest a strong notion of reality grasped by humans.

The scientific mode of inquiry is not available in common life. Does that mean that our lives are mostly lived in phenomenal fiction? In the Tagore-Einstein conversation, Tagore makes the obvious point that physics itself is a human enterprise as with any other human creation such as music, poetry, painting and sculpture. A range of Tagore’s poetry is analyzed at this point to show that one way to grasp the world is simply to live in the world in terms of the rich experiences furnished thereof. But then such a conception of the world is grounded in a very different form of inquiry.

Brief Bio-sketch of the speaker 

Nirmalangshu Mukherji was a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delhi where he taught for nearly two decades.  Currently, he is the national visiting professor of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. Originally focusing on the philosophy of science, he was drawn to the fields of epistemology, classical philosophy of language and, subsequently, cognitive science.  His interests now lie with biolinguistics, the nature of a musical organization, and the general properties of the human mind. He has pursued this research through a number of publications, culminating in his book, The Primacy of Grammar (MIT Press, 2010). His other publications in this area include Cartesian Mind: Reflections on Language and Music (Simla, 2000) and a co-edited volume with Noam Chomsky, The Architecture of Language(OUP, 2000). Currently, he is working on two books: Reflections on Human Inquiry (Forthcoming); Merge and Mind (In Prep.)