In Conversation With The Philosopher In Prashant Bushan

by | Dec 19, 2018

Hamari Kaksha, a three day workshop in Aavishkaar for passionate and energetic teachers who work for science and math education, gave me a lot of learning and enjoyment in my journey. And one strong memory which remained with me was the last day evening of the workshop, where we were informed that we are having a guest speaker, Prashant Bhushan. Suddenly all the people around me were excited, but I was neutral and was thinking, “who’s this Prashant Bhushan?” I googled about him and got a quick brief from Wikipedia.

Prashant Bhushan, a prominent public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court who fought against several cases related to corruption, environmental protection, and human rights. He successfully dealt with major cases like Commonwealth games and Adarsh scam. He played a remarkable role in India against Corruption (IAC) movement which supported Anna Hazare’s campaign for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill. He was also the co-founder of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

This is the crisp of Prashant Bhushan which I had found and what basically people know. So, I was just expecting a casual political and economic discussion from him. We all gathered, sat in the Gazebo, which was beautifully built by Roshanlal Ji, who works here in Aavishkaar. All the Aavishkaar team and the participants of Hamari Kaksha were introduced. After a while, everyone wanted to hearken his journey of life, but as I mentioned, I was just expecting a routine political discourse and a lawyer’s life story.

As he started his story, I saw him expressing more love and attention to science and Physics. It confused me. After school, he was much more interested in science, specifically in Physics, so he decided to opt for engineering and joined IIT Madras. After spending a semester there, he realized that engineering was not his cup of tea, where he was actually interested in pure sciences and philosophy. So he left the institute after a semester. Thereafter he decided to do a BSc in Philosophy, Economics and Political Science from Allahabad University. Gradually, his interest in Philosophy and Economics grew. His father was a renowned lawyer and Prashant Bhushan sometimes had a chance to be in the hearings of his father’s cases. It created an interest in pursuing law. So he decided to pursue LLB formally, Philosophy and Physics informally.

After LLB, he applied for Ph.D. to many American Universities in Philosophy of Science. He received a scholarship, and he went to Prinston Universty, U.S.A and was there for two and a half years. Later he discerned that whatever work being done in Philosophy there, isn’t much useful for him, so returned to India and began practicing law. This talk about his education life was astonishing for me – it made me feel that knowledge is not limited to only one branch of study; we can dig deeper in whatever we are interested at any particular time. The required trait is just passion. He was also a good storyteller, at all times keeping us interested.

He started his explanation of Philosophy of Science with the Big Bang Theory. And then glided on to elaborate how the Solar System is formed, orbited around the formation of the Earth and finally docked at the human evolution. The concept and thought of ‘free will in a deterministic universe’ is one of his inspirational topics and he also wrote a paper on it. He explained how free will and determinism are contradictory to each other. So understanding and debating on this kind of topics is really very philosophical, and also stimulates our critical thinking. Similarly, he also discussed the Newcomb’s Problem created by William Newcomb. It’s an interesting puzzle and game to think and solve.
He stressed a point that everything in front of us is science, but due to lack of verification, we declare some as God’s grace. But everything can be analyzed and understood very clearly, just with determination and passion. While he was narrating, I was noting down so many books which I would have never heard of, if I was not there. Also eventually, all my assumptions of a casual political discussion which I was anticipating, had failed. I got an opportunity to meet an unseen physicist and philosopher in Prashant Bhushan that evening.
My perception was that we need to stick to a path what we choose to be at the beginning to succeed. But after hearing his story, I felt life always gives you lots of opportunities to take and choose, but it’s on us how we acknowledge them. It also makes me think of my future and its prospects in a different light now.
(Do make some time to go through the links to understand this phenomenal world of the Philosophy of Science!)

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