“Philosophy has been considered a subject for the elitists and of the elitists, making it inaccessible to the common masses,” says Savvi Singhal, communications officer at The Philosophy Project. The initiative has been launched by five undergraduate students of philosophy at Miranda House, Delhi University with the aim of making philosophy available to all.
According to Singhal, the project started off as a small study group wherein the five classmates would sit and study philosophy/books together. “We realised that most of the studies that we did didn’t come from our classrooms. Moreover, due to the nationwide lockdown, we weren’t getting enough space to discuss philosophy outside the peripheries of our classrooms.”
This inspired them to create a safe space where people, who think that philosophy is not easily accessible to all or who consider circles/courses like these as “elitist”, can participate and study the subject. “We wanted to create a space that wouldn’t gatekeep people from studying and understanding philosophy,” Singhal says.
Founded by Naina Bhargava, the faces behind the project include four other passionate third-year students – senior managing editors Srishti Sensarma and Gauri Kumar; graphic designer and visualiser Shreya Sharma; and communications officer Savvi Singhal.
At the project, Singhal explains, all students are welcome to participate irrespective of their stream or educational background. “We have a book club under which we conduct regular book discussions and study meets. In addition to that, we have a website where we welcome articles on monthly themes decided by our editorial team. Other than that, we conduct lecture series wherein we invite academicians to deliver independent lectures and the video recordings of the same are further uploaded on our YouTube channel,” says Singhal.
Free certificate course on feminist philosophy
Recently, as part of project, the team launched the first free certificate course on feminist philosophy in collaboration with the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), Minorities and Philosophy (MAP), as well as the department of philosophy, Delhi University.
Stretched over a span of three months, from April to June, they received around 1,000 registrations for the certificate course. Though the registrations have now closed, the reading list and video recordings of the lectures are available on their website and their YouTube channel respectively.
“We believe that the learning is far more important than getting a certificate which is why we have kept all the study material just a click away. Moreover, subjects like feminist philosophy are not very easily accessible to a lot of people and we want more and more people to be aware, and therefore we have made everything available free of cost,” says Singhal.
Under this certificate course, the team tried to analyse diverse sub-topics under feminist philosophy, ranging from feminist epistemology, feminism and aesthetic, feminism and media to feminist jurisprudence, feminist ethics, Dalit feminism, feminist political theory, queer theory, religion and feminism, post-colonial feminism amidst others. Owing to the overwhelming response from students, they plan to do several more certificate courses in the future.
In addition to that, they also wish to make project a national organisation with the help of various state governments.
“We wish to go to schools and educate the school children about philosophy and spread awareness about various future aspects of taking up Philosophy as a subject in your graduation. Philosophy, as a subject, is quite famous abroad, however, it still has a way to go within India,” adds Singhal.
All images are provided by Savvi Singhal.