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!!