Vice Chancellor - Prof. Dr. Hassan Amir Shah, Sitara-i-Imtiaz

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Panel Discussion on “Self-Actualisation and Authenticity” at GC University


The Government College University Lahore Philosophy Department and Brett Philosophical Society Thursday organised a panel discussion on a highly crucial topic of “Self-Actualisation and Authenticity” at the university’s New Meeting Rooms in connection with the World Philosophy Day. Prof Dr Mirza Ather Baig, eminent philosopher and writer of famous novel Ghulam Bagh (The Garden of Slaves), chaired the panel discussion which was also addressed by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah and philosopher poet Dr Alwin Vincent Murad. Speakers at the panel discussion said that the ideals of self-actualisation and authenticity could not be achieved without hard-work and struggle.


GCU Philosophy Department Chairperson Dr Sobia Tahir said self-actualization and authenticity had remained the long standing ideals and goals of human life, and man had been perusing these since immemorial times using numerous means i.e. religion, spirituality, philosophy, art or literature. However, Dr Sobia believed that these ideals were not only unachievable without hard-work and struggle but also empty and insignificant. “Self-actualization and authenticity may not be sought in utter meaninglessness or vacuum; some value must be assigned to them which one may strive with conviction, dedication and pleasure,” she said. The Philosophy Department Chairperson stressed that self-actualization and authenticity should never be separated from praxis.


In his key note address, Prof Dr Mirza Ather Baig conceptually grounded the topic in multiple perspectives and opened up various dimensions for the development of the discussion. He pointed out how the movement towards and away from the “Self” has impacted various vistas of thought in the western philosophy from René Descartes (1596—1650) to post modernism. He also shared with the participants his experiences as fiction writer, and paradoxes of the identity of the ‘Self’ in his novels.   


In his address, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah agreed with the philosophers that without hard-work, dedication, determination and perseverance, the Being is never authentic no matter how intellectual and scholarly he/she is. 


Dr Alwin Murad told the participants about the different theories of self-actualisation and authenticity, and significance of the World Philosophy Day. The GCU faculty members Sadaf Munir, Zaigham Ali, Abdul Mannan and Sobia Jamil also participated in the panel discussion which was attended by a large number of students from various departments.




Why there is no Pakistani Literary theory?


Speakers at a seminar on the “interdisciplinary role of philosophy in the academic space of university” have strongly objected to the euro-centric configuration of knowledge in the developing countries and supported the idea of situating philosophy in the context of its indigenous operation. The one-day national seminar, spread over four technical sessions, was organized by the Government College University Lahore (GCU) Philosophy Department with the funding and technical support the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) at the University’s Bukhari Auditorium.


In her opening speech, GCU Philosophy Department Dr Sobia Tahir said that academic seminar was designed to explore the basic question: What type of conceptual and paradigmatic unity interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinarily can bring about when operating in the multidisciplinary world of human knowledge. And what role can Philosophy, the most elusive of all disciplines: historically once having all the disciplines in its ambit, and then becoming bankrupt of all the disciplines—can play in this enterprise.


In his key note address, eminent philosopher and novelist Prof Mirza Ather Baig said that every culture had its own particular requirements, so it could not be fitted easily into a developmental sequence derived from Western experience of tradition-modernity-postmodernity. He said that the queries naturally and enthusiastically hence rather crudely erupting from the young minds is that why there is no Pakistani Literary theory? Why are they calling their theorizing German, Russian, American or French? What has happened to our minds that we generally fail not only to theorize about matters physical, chemical, biological, social and psychological but even to conceptualize the first step in the ladder leading to the schematization of human experience as valid knowledge? Prof Baig said that actually we never feel the urge or drive to indulge in such a cerebro-cognitive exercise. For us it is more than enough to gobble the appropriate disciplinary texts and then re-text them at appropriate moments on demand. He said these intellectually mellowed down version of these inquisitorial exhortations rising though from a particular miniscule onto-epistemic location yet pointed towards the emergence of the rudimentary contours of the Nonstandard or Revised Academic Model. He also said nobody would be imaging absurdities like Pakistani Physics, Indonesian Biology, Saudi Arabian Mathematics, or Indian chemistry but these disciplines actually work in “the minds and hearts” of these varied cognitive spaces, their lived reality against the backdrop of their cultural a-priori is probably the most crucial question, answer to which can go a long way to the formation of the Revised Academic Model. What is needed is a phenomenological analysis of the life-world of disciplines both in the dominant and dominated sites of knowledge and learning. Such an acute self-awareness of the complexities of our relationship with disciplinary knowledge would be the first step to unfold the real dynamics of the much touted, but very vaguely understood paradigm of “Indigenization”.


Vice Chancellor Prof Hassan Amir Shah expressed gratitude to PHEC Chairman Prof Nizam-ud-Din for his technical support and funding for the highly crucial academic activity. He also said that modern research had grown complex and interdisciplinary, rather multi and trans-disciplinary; subjects of social sciences such as geography were playing key role in inventions and innovations in the fields of natural sciences such as physics and biology.


GCU Dean of Social Sciences Prof Dr Tahir Kamran and noted philosophers Prof Dr Abdul Hafeez Fazil, Dr Ali Raza Tahir, Hassan Farooqi and Muhammad Afzal Khan also addressed the seminar. Noted academician from Punjab University Shahzeb Khan said explicated upon the imperil connection of the disciplines of philosophy and English literature and advocated decolonizing the academic space of making these disciplines engage with the context of our society.



Theology a source of solace yet, says Mark J. Boone

Dr. Mark J Boone, noted American academic and scholar, has said that overcoming desire is solely possible through religion. The philosophical schools of late antiquity commonly diagnosed human unhappiness as rooted in some fundamental disorder in human desire. Accordingly they offered various therapies or prescriptions for the healing of desire. However, none of them could achieve the requisite result except the therapy of practicing the theological virtues,” the American philosopher while addressing an invited talk on “Saint Augustine’s Early Theory of Desire” at the Government College University Lahore. The talk was organized by the Brett Philosophical Society under the auspices of Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies, Government College University, Lahore. Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah, Department of Philosophy Chairperson Dr Sobia Tahir, Brett Philosophical Society Advisor  Dr. Alwin Vincent Murad also attended the  lecture. The Vice Chancellor admired such intellectual debates and reiterated his vow to develop and promote humanities and social sciences in GCU. He highlighted the significance of Philosophy in a civilized society.





Anchor-persons are the contemporary intellects: Speakers


Anchor-persons are the contemporary intellectuals and opinion makers and ‘truth’ is just a tactical device to defend a specific position or opinion. This is unfortunately happening because literature and philosophy are not flourishing in our society and we lack reasoning abilities and critical thinking", said speakers while addressing a seminar on “Philosophy outside of the academic enclosure, using new places and formats” organised by the Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Government College University, Lahore in connection with World Philosophy Day. Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Prof. Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin was the Guest of Honour at the seminar.


In his key note address, eminent philosopher and writer Prof Mirza Athar Baig said western philosophy and literature could not put down roots in their society and culture, and they must come from within a society. He said that the theme of UNESCO means that Philosophy should grow from the local soil and indigenous culture. He said a conducive, liberal and open environment was needed in universities for the development of literature and philosophy.  He declared that every person is  a philosopher, somehow or the other, since everyone ponders, thinks and analyses in his or her capacity.


Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Prof. Dr.  Nizamuddin, in his address as a Guest of Honour, said that philosophy had unnecessarily been mystified.  It is a form of wisdom and an approach of looking the world; hence it must be demystified and brought to the earlier levels of education. Prof Nizam was also in favour of teaching philosophy to science students. He also said that philosophy could not be restricted to a single department; rather every scientific subject had philosophy.


Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah said that academic institutions must promote questioning instead of just teaching specific knowledge and methods. He said that even science people were quite away from innovation and philosophy and mostly relied on their specific formulas and methods. He said they must accept that philosophy and other social science subjects were much ignored in educational institutions and these subjects were highly crucial for social and cultural uplift of the society.


GCU Brett Philosophical Society Advisor Dr Alwin Vincent Murad in his opening remarks apprised the participants with the aims and objectives of the World Philosophy Day which was celebrated by UNESCO globally in November. GCU Department of Philosophy and Interdisciplinary Studies Head Dr Sobia Tahir, GCU History Department Chairman Prof Dr Tahir Kamran, Mr. Abdul Mannan, Mr. Jawad Nazir and Mr. Shahram Sarwrar also addressed the seminar that was attended by the faculty, academic and administrative heads besides a large number of students. 





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