Lecture Lecture 14: What is Philosophy?

by Prof. Akeel Bilgrami

Prof. Akeel Bilgrami
Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy,
Professor, Committee on Global Thought,
Columbia University

Prof Bilgrami is a Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is a professor, Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. He did his  B.A from Bombay University (1970) and from Oxford University (1974). He has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, after writing a dissertation, "Meaning as Invariance," on the subject of the indeterminacy of translation and issues concerning realism and linguistic meaning. He joined the Department in 1985 after spending two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Professor Bilgrami intellectual interests include Philosophy of Mind and Language, Political Philosophy and Moral Psychology especially as they surface in politics, political economy, history, and culture. He has published several books, in 1992 Belief and Meaning (Blackwell), 2006 called Self Knowledge and Resentment (Harvard University Press) to name a few. He is presently working on a book on the relations between agency and practical reason. His book Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment was published by Harvard University Press in 2014.  He is contracted to publish two small books in the very near future, one called What is a Muslim? (Princeton University Press) and another on Gandhi's philosophy, situating Gandhi's thought in seventeenth century dissent in England and Europe and more broadly within the Radical Enlightenment and the radical strand in the Romantic tradition (Columbia University Press). He is also the editor of the books Democratic Culture (2011), Who’s Afraid of Academic Freedom? – with Jonathan Cole (2014), Marx, Gandhi, and Modernity (2014), and Beyond the Secular West (2016).

He teaches courses and seminars regularly in the department on Philosophy of Mind and Language as well as Moral Psychology, Meta-Ethics, and Political Philosophy; he also teaches seminars in the Committee on Global Thought, the Religion Department, and in Political Science, on politics and rationality as well as on a range of issues from questions of secularism and identity to the effects of globalization on politics and political thought.

Professor Bilgrami was the Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1994-98, the Director of the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University from 2004-2011, and the Director of the South Asian Institute from 2013-2016.