2013 Master Theses

On April 27, 2013, the seven students of the second year of the Masters Programme at the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities (MCPH) presented their Master Thesis viva. This was the final work of their degree, prepared throughout the fourth semester.

Padmapriya: Legal Parenthood in Hindu Corpus DSC_0489Abstract:

Parenthood is a complex state of social and legal construction as well as contradiction in Indian family law. In India, societal conditions formulate a parent as a nurturer and care-giver for children well into adulthood. The systems of ‘arranged marriages and adult children living with their parents continue to this day in most places in the country. However, there has also been a strong tendency towards nuclear families which challenges the fundamental conceptualization of the traditional Indian family. Concurrently, there is a steep increase in divorce statistics across India which brings questions of custody under spotlight. Such cases are also indicative of changing markers of definition of a parent and family. In urban India, there has been a rise of cases of assisted reproduction, which further stirs up the debate on parenthood. Indian laws are curiously terse on the nature and definition of parenthood. Against this background, I wish to analyse whether a homogenized legal definition of parenthood can be arrived at, considering the plural cultural environment in India.

Sandeep Rajgopal Dubey: Conceptualizing Sensitive-Intention in G. M. Muktibodh’s Theory and Poetry DSC_0513 copy Abstract:

The thesis deals with the nature of relationship between the poet and his expression. The expression, for Muktibodh, being an impression of the outer reality implies another relationship which is the relationship of  the poet to the external world. I elaborate certain concepts in Muktibodh’s theory such as knowledge, sensation and intention by placing them alongside Indian philosophy of perception and language; and Muktibodh’s long poem Amdhere Mem. The understanding of these concepts becomes the ground on which sensitive-intention is explored with regards to its role in Muktibodh’s theoretical framework. The exploration of sensitive-intention is necessary from the viewpoint of analyzing the objective and subjective aspect of a literary work. The thesis does not give a wholesome framework but provides possibilities to build one.

Saunak Mookerjee: Praying In Indian Thought: Relating Divinity to Bodies



A survey of literature on forms of praying in Western and Indian thought such as petition, adoration, intercession, contemplation, worship, chanting mantras or even japa reveal that mind plays an important role for an individual in forming a relationship with God. Mental activities involving an association with God not only has its influence in writing or publishing numerous books, literatures or scholarly papers, but also has its relevance to applications in medical set ups such as psychotherapeutic and biomedical practices. These therapeutic measures begin with the assumption that mind connects with God. In case the mind is disturbed then certain procedures are instructed by medical practitioners in bringing about relaxation and calmness in the mind. Out of several prayers, contemplation is one prayer that has relevance to mind not only in the field of medicine but otherwise also, when one seeks to maintain a communication with God. Its practice is mostly mind- oriented.

However my concern is not mind but body. Though mind occupies a vital role in praying, I express that bodily practices of a person engaged in praying develop a relationship with God. Furthermore, I not only describe the bodily activities in praying in Western and Indian traditions of thought but also point out several prayers, rituals and mantras emphasizing on the role of bodies in relating to divinity. My first chapter opens up with an introduction about praying and mind- body problem drawing upon Western and Indian philosophical schools of thought. I further proceed in describing, explaining, summarizing and reflecting on the role of body in different kinds of prayers.

My second chapter titled ‘Is, Praying Thinking?’ deals with exploring thoughts in praying. In this section I am mostly occupied in summarizing papers and asking questions, for example- Can praying become thinking? Or what role do thoughts have in praying? In an attempt in seeking answers to my questions, I summarize paper, Praying Is Thinking authored by John Macquarrie. In this paper I learn about compassionate thinking associated with praying. My second sub section of the chapter is concerned with the practice of Upasana in the light of Psychological approach. In this sub section also, I summarize S. K Kiran Kumar’s psychological perspective on thoughts and unconscious employed in the worship termed as Upasana.

Lastly, in my third chapter I work on yoga which is also a kind of relationship one associates with Brahman. Moreover it is also linked with mantras and prayer because one might be familiar with the practice of mantra yoga. My third chapter primarily deals with two aspects ‘Yoga and Mind’ and ‘Yoga and Internal structures of the body.’ As the name of the title suggests, my intention is to identify the mental and bodily activities related to yoga. In this chapter I summarize and discuss two papers which are, ‘The Yoga System of Mental Concentration and Religious Mysticism’ and ‘Inside/Outside: Merleau Ponty/Yoga’ authored by James H. Leuba and Sundar Sarukkai respectively.

Varun Bhatta: Individuation of systems DSC_0521


The main aim of this thesis is to understand what individuation is and how physical objects and systems are described to be individuals. In order to understand that, first we have to understand how Metaphysics categorizes things into different types. While exploring this, I will be differentiating, first, concrete things from abstract things and later distinguish objects from quasi-objects, quasi-individuals. In this discussion we will realize that it is the ability to individuate which differentiates objects from other types of things. That being the case, we have to see what individuation is and when we can consider certain thing to be an individual. Here, I will discuss several ways through which an object acquires individuality. Having considered this, we will have to next explore the relationship between individuality and distinguishability.

After discussing individuality from metaphysical viewpoint, we will have to understand how physics describes its objects and systems. During this discussion, we will consider how theories and laws describe their objects and thereby constitute them. Structural description of physical objects is also considered.

Having understood the metaphysical understanding of individuation and physical description of objects, it is time to bring both of these together and explore individuation of physical systems and objects. In this exploration, I will consider how individuality is conceptualized in classical mechanical statistics, quantum statistics and quantum mechanics. Throughout this comparison and discussion, I will explain how we infer individuality through distinguishability. At the same time, in all these different kinds of systems, I will be exploring which among the several metaphysical views of individuation considered succeed in conferring individuality. During this discussion, it is realized that Principle of identity of indiscernibles fails for quantum objects. Further, regarding quantum objects, nature of quantum entanglement and non-separability of entangled systems are explained and the implication of these for understanding individuality is discussed.

Lastly, metaphysical under-determination of physical objects is considered. It is indicated, while exploring this, that this under-determination is the result of physics considering certain things and enquiring their individuality through theories. Since objects are constituted and described by scientific theories, several theories confer different kind of individuality to their objects and this result in under-determination.

Suhas Udaykumar: Individuals, Identities and Centres of Power in Maasti’s Historical Fiction

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Composing historical fiction that is located in the final hours of two kingdoms and a play about a community in a transitional phase, Maasti’s works deal with an era when separation between state power and various other social institutions o not exist and idea of such a thought seems artificial. Between the historical narrative of the events weaving its web in the plot and the ethical voice of the author/narrator whose ethical leanings differ from that of certain characters Maasti finely balances in each of his works the complexity of the web of circumstances yet clarifying for the reader the necessary orientation given the circumstances there by removing the simplicity of single point narrative. This work attempts capture the construction of this by the untangling of the intersections between individuals, social institutions, identities, geographical sites and sites of state or political power.

Kaushik Ramu: The Tuning of Touch: Situating Musical Affect Through Rasa

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That music has the capacity to affect us is an enduring philosophical problem. In contemporary discourse, while analytic philosophy articulates this as a controversy of emotional expressivity, affect theory turns away from emotion’s investment in personhood to attend to primal forces and pre-human intensities. My hypothesis is that musical experience strongly lends itself to description as affective, and that a way to develop this possibility is to situate musical affect with a theory of embodied aesthetics. Extending Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology in which the visible is continuous with the tactile, I propose that sound can similarly be continuous with touch. I then resolve sound, through Jacques Attali’s work, into music and noise, draw from Sundar Sarukkai’s comparative philosophy of touch and skin, and argue that music touches us while noise is in contact with us. To reconcile Merleau-Ponty’s precognitive ‘flesh’ with the skin as the site of musical affect, I suggest a more expansive understanding of skin, as in the seven-layered skin in traditions of Indian thought such as Samkhya. In elaborating on touch as a multi-modal register, I note how the relation between touch and aesthetics is captured crucially as pleasure in Kaṣmiri Śaivism; how the Nātyaṣāstra’s analogy of ‘tasting’ for the experience of theatre complements the tantric notion of touch as a meta-sense and the skin as the site of revelation; and how Abhinavagupta’s account of rasa as universalized feeling, that relies on emotional personhood as a point of departure, contrasts as well as resonates with affect theory. I arrive thus at three related arguments: (1) rasa, with its locus in the tantric body, situates affect in touch (2) rasa challenges affect theory’s turn away from emotion, even as affect theory in turn challenges rasa’s standardized schema (3) the Nātyaṣāstra’s hyphenation of music and theatre suggests that music is haunted by the stage’s sensorium; that its experience has an indeterminacy that sound alone cannot exhaust.

Rajgopal Saikumar: Ethics and Jurisprudence of Civil Disobedience



The thesis attempts to respond to two broad subjects. Firstly, what would be an ethical or a more authentic form of disobedience as opposed to an unethical one? Second, what must be the jurisprudence on such a civil disobedience, how can the State and the judiciary respond it? The author lays the grounding to this theory on a tripartite categorisation of ‘Representative Justice’, ‘Experiential Injustice’ and ‘Mediate Space’. It envisages an authentic civil disobedience to be grounded in a ‘philosophy of experience’. The thesis interprets Conscience as reflections on experience and suggests that conscience must be the basis for civil disobedience. It elaborates on a possible form and structure of civil disobedience and employs Gandhian philosophy to explore various possibilities that yield to this experience based dissent. The thesis also discusses questions of our ‘nature of duty’ when it comes to obeying laws and takes into account the ‘autonomy versus authority’ debates central to civil disobedience. The thesis ends with a jurisprudential perspective of civil disobedience and attempts to suggest concrete policy-like pointers on responding to such a form of authentic civil disobedience.


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