Dec 15, 2011

Indian Team - Selection around the corner

  • Stage I of the Indian Philosophy Olympiad begins 22 Dec 2011. Students (std 8 to 12) should download the paper linked to the site - - on the morning of 22 Dec. Then attempt the MCQ and subjective questions meant to test the student's language and reasoning skills. The solutions must be emailed to by the 3rd Jan 2012. Instructions on how to send the solutions will be given in the paper. Those who cant email, may send by post / hand delivery by the same deadline.
  • 20% from the top will be invited to the next stage.
  • Stage II will be an essay competition conducted on Sunday 8th Jan 2012 between 9 am and 12:30 pm. 4 essay topics will be announced at 9 am to the participants by email and on this blog. Students have to write an essay on one of them and submit by 12:30 pm (about 3 hrs writing time) by email.
  • Topper recieves the medal among other prizes. Top 10 percentile students get a prize.
  • Students are invited from the top to participate in the team going to Oslo in May 2012. If one refuses, the next in list is asked. Please remember - no part of this competition is charged a fee. However, the travel costs to Oslo and back and travel costs to the training center (Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli) for about a month, have to be borne by the student.

Dec 14, 2011

Nov 23, 2011

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the Abhinav Philosopher competition (first stage of the selection for IPO - team India) is postponed a bit. It will now be held from 19th Dec onwards, i.e. The first stage - Objective and Subjective questions will be put up on 19th Dec and the (thoughtful) answers will be expected by roughly the end of Dec. (So you get plenty of time) This is only a filter to go to the next level and it is a lenient one. The next stage (Essay round) will be taken on a given day (so only 3-4 hours of writing allowed) on 8th Jan 2012. Only those who clear the first stage will be allocated the essay topics by email.

Also, please look at the box on the top (below the title) for tasks / discussions related to the training. we need to gear up for the competition and need to learn to think elaborately with adequate reasoning. If you are participating, then please join the group (by sending me a mail at

Nov 10, 2011

Reviews from Chitra

Shlok Bhurke: Lack of argument; No examples discussed; Deeper understanding of the topic and the corresponding philosophical issue, here- free will, determinism and comaptiblism isnt seen

Rutwik Borkar: Very less amount of the argument dedicated to 'compatiblism'; 'literal' explanation of the quote isnt required; argumentation, counter examples lack

Rounak Majumdar: missing discussion about possiblity of a 'better organized'; the concept of greater good should have been mentioned; both sides of the issue of 'superiority being far from being a bad thing'; examples not analogous to the whole issue, only sufficient to explain a term; conclusion is plainly assertive

Kinjal Shah: Point wise presentation and structure was good; conclusion actually comes out the presented arguement [again a plus]; less focus on dictates of the mind, no countering to it; more explanation about 'compatiblism' required

Anunay Kulashetra: Various possible angles of 'relative' not explored; Unanswered 'whys' all over; necessary to disprove belief in absolutes to strengthen the argument

Devendra Chavan: dictionary oriented explanation for 1 & 2; better examples required for the same; all possible interpretations of 'sign' required in 3 & 4 is a positive, quite complete and convincing

Ayushi Singh: good structure and flow; more examples should be quoted; mention compatiblism

Apurva Shinde: 'Relative' and 'related' are not as closely related that they will be the same; unecessary focus of human psychology about strong beliefs; conclusion doesnt come from the argument

Anand Chitrao: 'Relative' confused with all other types of non-confirmation; examples not analogous to the argument; Non conclusive

Ajayanand Chari: Focus on desire instead of free will; argument not analysed from opposite points of view
Abhinav Menon: Structure and flow is very logical; All nuances of the key term have been explored, which creates better understanding; More concrete examples required, at least two of them should be critically explored; Countering the believers in absolutes is required

Reviews from Vallari

The positive things:
Great attempt by all of them. I could sense the interest and the efforts taken to write the essay and to analyse the topic. There were attempts by a few of them to be critical about the analysing the topic which was good, because I guess you really need to be very well prepared with your explanation when you go for a critical analysis. Good job. I’m happy, not satisfied!
Things to be worked on!
Usage of the words should be proper. You can’t be casual in using certain words. Be particular. Infect, VERY particular. Elaborate more on your views. The explanation that you offer to the reader is not sufficient. It should be simple n elaborate such that even a layman can understand it very clearly. Try and give better examples n explain them properly. It seems you assume certain things while writing the essay but you don’t mention about your assumptions. Look after your grammar. Though not very important, but it is definitely important. Your views won’t be clear enough to the reader if you don’t use proper grammar. In conclusion just don’t say that you agree or don’t with the philosopher but also try and add your own different view point about the topic. Try and hold the reader throughout your essay. Don’t make him disinterested in the essay as he proceeds through it. Make the presentation interesting. Not as if you tell a story but definitely better than a mathematical proof which has the pattern ‘Following are the points and so the conclusion’. You all are writing an essay so its very important that you hold the interest of the reader.
Individual Observations:
Shlok Bhurke: The choice of heading should have been little better. Form small, simple sentences instead of using too many conjunctions. It confuses the reader. Improve on the grammar part. It’s very poor. The explanation should have been little bit more. Try to think beyond the lines given to you but take care that you don’t get diverted from the main point which is to be discussed. Read in between the lines (for the topic) Avoid too many brackets. It might just suggest the reader that you aren’t sure about the words you are using or the point that you are listing.
Rutwik Borkar: Please be careful when you highlight certain points. Don’t just presume things. Mention about your presumptions especially when you are using them in your highlighted points. [This is for the 4 points which you have mentioned in the starting of the essay]
Kinjal Shah: The attempt was really good but a very poor approach towards the topic. The starting was different, as in quite a different point of view but the explanation presented was very poor. Moreover you lost the track of your point midway n so it seemed that you were just gathering points from here and there. It could have been much better had you thought over the topic little more deeply. One thing that is noticeably nice about the essay is that the conclusion is really presented in a good way. Different and nice.
Devendra Chavan: Use better words while mentioning ur sub-points in d essay than just saying ‘point 1’, ‘point 2’etc. Limited thinking or limited writing! The topic was such that you could have elaborated much more than you have.

Apurva Shinde: Sorry but I had quite a tough time reading this one. Too confusing for me. ‘Bohot ghuma firaake baat ki hai’ So I couldn’t really read through her mind!
Ajayanand Chari: No heading! Heading is very important. It tells the reader that what should he expect from your essay! Different approach or I would say different usage of words. But again, the explanation is not enough.
Anand Chitrao: Dunno whether the approach was correct or no but the presentation is nice. Convincing power is good. A layman would easily understand what you are tryin to say and will get convinced with your viewpoint as well. Again limited thinking but the explanation was pretty good [whatever chhota explanation is given]
Ayushi Singh: “But such a choice will drag the child to the sufferings of being hungry. Hence here the child was completely free and had entire freedom to react in any manner in order to fulfil his wish to eat something.” Here the later part is a conclusion of the point mentioned but is not derived actually from the 1st sentence. In fact the explanation provided does not lead you to this conclusion. I feel the explanation for this conclusion should have been different. So be careful about it. The reader won’t find the link in between your views. It’s a pretty clean essay compared to others. Clean in the sense, I could make out what your thought process was, though you need to work on detailing. I could read your mind through and I guess that’s important. Keep up the good work!
Rounak Majumdar: I appreciate the choice of topic! According to me it was the most difficult one!!! Nothing much to say. The general reviews are enough for this one.
Abhinav Menon: The views presented are good but the way of presentation needs to be cleaner. The language used is simple yet complicated and tends to confuse the reader [at least me!]. Here I mean, I had to actually keep the record, ‘This is the first point, ok so now he’s starting a new one and ok fine now that’s the conclusion!!!!’ I like the confidence!

Nov 5, 2011

Selection of Indian entries to Baltic Sea Competition

Hello there,
The Baltic Sea Competition held as a celebration of UNESCO World Philosophy Day was conducted on 4th Nov, 2011. About 11 candidates, 3 of whom were from schools in Delhi, Dubai and the rest from Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli, participated. Out of these 2-3 essays are to be sent to Finland as entries from India. The scores of all those who appeared for the BSEC from India are listed here
I have asked each examiner to post their comments so that the students will be guided into improving their performance for the Abhinav Philosopher Competition (Selection for IPO-Indian Team, roughly in Dec Week 1).  We have sent the following students' essays to the Finnish Organizers:
1. Abhinav Menon (IB-MYP-Sophomore, Dubai Int'l School, Dubai)
2. Rounak Majumdar (SSC-X, Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli)
3. Ayushi Singh (SSC-X, Abhinav Vidyalay, Dombivli)
Results of BSEC will be posted at on or soon after 17th Nov
On a personal note - I was amazed at the overall performance of most of the candidates. It has been much better in quality than previous years.

My observations:
Starting with Shlok, Apurva & Anand. Your performance has improved considerably from last year - you have written more and elaborated the points well. However, either you failed to grasp the full relevance of the issue or gave examples inconsistent with the topic. You should improve your reasoning and critical thinking by participating in brain storming sessions more often. Otherwise you seem to write well, especially Shlok.
Now Anunay. Being your first attempt, no regrets. However, the physics of Einstein's Relativity is that although things seem relative - their are always some invariants/absolutes that can help correlate observations. Thus it is in contrast with the metaphysics of Nagarjun. Also, an example cannot prove an idea correct, but only proves it possible. It can however, prove an idea as incorrect.
Then Ajayanand, Kinjal & Devendra. You guys have elaborated well and even structured your approach to the issue. You have tried to analyze the different clauses in the philosopher's quote. However, you either ignored a possible outcome of the quote or were slightly incoherent through the essay, i.e. your ideas did not connect well with the examples and the other ideas. Kinjal, you need to improve your language to make yourself crystal clear. Devendra needs to write simpler sentences and elaborate the idea rather than simply stating things as facts/rules. Ajay you need to discover beyond what the philosopher has already provided in the quote. (in terms of examples and mechanisms)
Rutwik. You present well. You even elaborate the ideas very critically and try to frame the arguments. This is expected from you since you have been to the IPO once. However, you need to take care of your language. Sometimes casual use of language causes misunderstandings when evaluated in a critical manner. Also, the argument of the author, which you presented (since you agreed with him) needs to be water-tight. The justifications for the observations of the author (which you provided) were not very critical. One can find a few slips and loopholes. Try to read more philosophers and brood over the meanings. But this is much better than your performance last year.
Ayushi & Rounak. You are both methodical and critical in presenting the argument. However, you also need to be watchful about your use of language/words. Using a word in a wrong context (Ayushi) or casual phrases where interpretation is left to the reader (Rounak) can cost a philosopher dearly. Avoid using bombastic words (Ayushi) or eccentric examples (Rounak). Also, you could have given the mechanisms of the effects described by the author in greater detail, analysing psychology / sociology in detail. I guess you can improve this by reading more works of philosophers. Also, you need to explore all possible interpretations of the quote (you have taken most, but left one or two very important ones out of the discussion)
Finally Abhinav. You have a good command over language and logic. Thus although you made a very strong attack on Nagarjun, "proving" him incorrect, thus causing a flutter, you pulled it off with grace. However, you should have elaborated more about the possible interpretations of the quote and their possible analyses as well as their supporting arguments. This would have either shown you that your dis-proof was acceptable only in a limited context or it would have helped you make a more convincing argument to prove the author wrong given any interpretation. At the IPO your essay would have come under a lot of flak and ultimately would have gown way below in ranking due to the above lacuna. I guess you need lots of brain storming to be able to "see" variety of angles into a quote.

Overall, I hope all of you who participated and others who may be "inspired" by this will stay focused on philosophy. We will try to remedy your shortcomings through our discussions as soon as I get some free time. Meanwhile, I intend to push some more essay-writing on you, say once-a-week throug this blog. (Those who are new to the whole idea are also welcome to try)

Nov 3, 2011

Baltic Sea Event

The Baltic Sea event will be held tomorrow. This event can seen as an
opportunity for different schools from different countries to search
for their philosophy talent and then match it with each other. Idea is
to give the student an essay to write, based on either a philosophical
question or a quote by some philosopher. The student has to present
his/her views regarding the quote (or question) and argue either in
favor of or against the author, using proper reasoning to prove or
disprove the quote. You may support your arguments with examples but
you shoud not prove or disprove your point of view exclusively with
your examples.

The student has to choose an essay topic from among the four that will
be given. You have two hours to finish the essay. During this time,
you should not access the Internet or any other reference that will
help you with the essay (Use of a dictionary is allowed.). The essay
should be atleast 2-3 computer pages and the font size should 11 or

All interested Abhinav students should come to the school tomorrow at
9 am for the competition. Others who are interested should contact
Prof. Kedar Soni ( for further details.

For more information about the Baltic Sea Event, visit

All the best!!

Oct 27, 2011

Resources for philosophy

The link attached below contains resources to different areas of philosophy.
This will give you a general idea about the important topics in each area of philosophy and will help you to train for the Baltic Sea event. I have not put up resources for all the areas now. I will keep on updating the document and inform you like-wise.
As these links will only give you a general idea, it will always be better if you read from other resources as well.
The Baltic Sea event will be conducted as scheduled- on 4th Nov. Topics will be disclosed only on 4th. Abhinav students are to come to the school premises to write the essay at on 4th at 9am.
Others who are interested will have to be online. The essay topics will be e-mailed to them on the 4th at 9, and they are to write the essay and email it back. For further queries please contact Kedar Soni (
You may post whatever doubts you may have.. All the best!!

Oct 9, 2011

About the Indian Philosophy Olympiad

I am currently trying to shift base to an internal discussion group and a seperate website for conducting the assignments and delivering info and news about the Olympiad and other activities related to Philosophy, which we will undertake here at Abhinav. The location for further info would be However to keep the line open, I will keep repeating the info on this blog for a long time to come. So feel free to view either site for news. Detail info will however be posted / connected on the proper site (as given above). Discussions within students and mentors will be conducted exclusively on the discussion group - So do join it. (by sending me a mail at or the group address -
Competition overview and task sheets for the first stage will be simultaneously put up at the above website as well as

Oct 7, 2011

The Indian Philosophy Olympiad Site

The website for info regarding the Indian Olympiad is finally set up. Please have a look. Details about the preparation and the stages of the selection have been put up as well. They need to be updated, but thats a continuum of work and will be done as soon as I can get around to it.

May 20, 2011

Take this Team IPO

Frame arguments for these topics ...
  1. "Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt - particularly to doubt one's cherished beliefs, one's dogmas and one's axioms." -Will Durant
  2. "If space is, it will be in something; for everything that is is in something; and to be in something is to be in space, and so on (ad infinitum). Therefore space does not exist." -Zeno of Elea

May 19, 2011

Another assignment

Frame the author's argument and your counter-attack or support for the theme given below, send me a mail of it and then write an essay based on the same argument and counter-attack ...

Justice without force is powerless, force without justice is tyrannical. (Pascal) IPO 1997

May 18, 2011

Another Essay for Team IPO

Write an essay on the following theme
In short, the actions of man are never free; they are always the necessary consequence of the temperament, of the received ideas, and of the notions, either true or false, which he has formed to himself of happiness; of his opinions, strengthened by example, by education, and by daily experience. (Holbach, Paul-Henri Dietrich, System of Nature)

The author's argument and a possible counter argument
A1) Man acts according to his beliefs
R) Actions are necessary consequences of the temperament of
a) recieved ideas
b) self notions of happiness (truth not important)
c) opinions (reinforced by edu., exp. & eg)
Rx) Being forced may govern your actions
X1) interactions with the world translate into experiential beliefs which in turn help construct a belief system (temperament)
X2) Temperament helps frame new beliefs
X3) A1 + X2 -> Actions follow from R)
C1) Man's beliefs are not independant
C2) Man is not free to act
Counter Argument:
1) if some ideas are dependant then is your entire belief system (temperament) dependant???
2) Can your most initial thoughts be ever your own? ... does this mean that you cant think on your own?
3) How do you explain the development of human knowledge if there is no independant idea???
4) Man always can choose to accept a belief in its given form or to modify it ... thats what R claims ...
CC) The above, especially 4, imply that beliefs are independant to quite a degree.... Thus C1 & hence C2 is WRONG!!!

May 17, 2011

Yet again for Team IPO

Find the authors argument and your counter-argument
  1. Nothing is true, everything is permitted... (Nietzsche) IPO, 1996
  2. Should we start from the premise that one is totally forbidden to do injustice, or should we consider that under some circumstances that is permitted? (Plato) IPO, 1995
Shuvom's take on Nietzsche's argument

My take on Nietzsche ....
Nietszche's argument
A0) Truth is subjective
i.e. Everyone has their own version of truth
A1) Something may be true for someone OR Nothing is absolutely true for anybody
R1) Everyone thinks/acts as per what they think is true
R2) Therefore everyone would do whetever they please
C) Thus Everything is permitted
X1) R1 dictates that if the base of thought is removed, people would behave in whichever way they feel (which usually is without reason)
X2) Such behavior will be tested by nature and people will (usually) end up in suffering or trouble, endangering their lives and whetever they value in them
X3) Only a rational act/thought can survive ... thus rendering A0 untrue
X4) A0 needs to be changed ... Truth is objective / real / empirical / rational
XC) From X3 - Only the truth and thoughts/actions according to it are permitted

May 16, 2011

More assignments for team IPO 2011

Frame the argument of the author of the quote and your counter argument to it.

  1. The fundamental evil of government grants is the fact that men are forced to pay for the support of ideas diametrically opposed to their own. This is a profound violation of an individual’s integrity and conscience. It is viciously wrong to take the money of rational men for the support of B.F. Skinner—or vice versa. The Constitution forbids a governmental establishment of religion, properly regarding it as a violation of individual rights. Since a man’s beliefs are protected from the intrusion of force, the same principle should protect his reasoned convictions and forbid governmental establishments in the field of thought.
    “The Establishing of an Establishment," Philosophy: Who Needs It, 168
  2. In the whirling Heraclitean flux which is the pragmatist’s universe, there are no absolutes. There are no facts, no fixed laws of logic, no certainty, no objectivity.
    There are no facts, only provisional “hypotheses” which for the moment facilitate human action. There are no fixed laws of logic, only mutable “conventions,” without any basis in reality. (Aristotle’s logic, Dewey remarks, worked so well for earlier cultures that it is now overdue for a replacement.) There is no certainty—the very quest for it, says Dewey, is a fundamental aberration, a “perversion.” There is no objectivity—the object is created by the thought and action of the subject.
    Leonard Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels, 126

May 15, 2011

Essay assignment for Team 2011

  1. History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them. - B. R. Ambedkar
  2. “Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact.” - Henry Louis Mencken

Mar 9, 2011

An assignment in Metaphysics

Hello there!
Time to start seriously preparing for the IPO 2011 to be held in May in Vienna. Students who are present for the discussions we have at Abhinav Vidyalay & Jr. College, Dombivli, have just had an overview of metaphysics from some very basic web pages like (Objectivism) or Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy and Wikipedia to begin with. Metaphysics attempts to define (ontology) the world we live in - physical and mental, as also to address the fundamental questions concerned with existence, consciousness, mind, perception, etc.
The purpose of these discussions is not to train the students to do serious metaphysics, but only to make them aware o fthe various issues that it studies and hence to make an educated opinion about an issue when attempting to write an essay. Of course the olympians will need to go further and also learn about the various thoughts presented by various philosophers on the issue and try to frame their opinion in the context of these thoughts.
So here is an essay assignment:
"Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure." - Scott Adams