Philosophy 101 : No Bakvas

An Ashoka University online course for high-school students.


Raja Rosenhagen

Course Dates

23 May – 3 June


INR 12,000 + GST


5 to 7pm

About The Course

“Philosophy: a bunch of old men who keep rambling endlessly—often unintelligibly—about the meaning of life and other dull topics, while making zero progress. It’s a mere exchange of opinions, a huge waste of time!”

People sometimes say this or something similarly dismissive about philosophy. Others refer to it in a hushed voice, vaguely reverentially, and say things like: “Philosophy is both very important and very deep [ominous rolling of the eyes]. It certainly goes way over my head.”

Is philosophy just complicated, way-over-your-head stuff or, worse even, utterly useless nonsense (bakvās)? Should you be interested in it? As you will discover in this course, philosophers, rather than producing more bakvās [of which there appears to be plenty anyway] try rather hard to get rid of it. How? By struggling to achieve a clear understanding of how things hang together. What kind of things? All of them! What counts as kind of thing, you ask? Excellent question!

Frequently, philosophers tackle issues that sound innocuous, naïve even, but are hard to answer: How is the world structured? How can we know about …anything, really? What should we do? How are we to evaluate the significance and the role of activities such as science, art, religion, and other ways of finding [or producing?] value?

Clearly, the number of philosophical subdisciplines by far exceeds what we could cover. In this course, we focus on a selection of exciting topics from contemporary philosophy drawn from very different areas. You will get a taste of how various philosophers tick [they don’t all tick to the same tune], understand how broad the discipline really is, recognize that philosophical claims shape the conceptual foundation of every other discipline, and thus understand how closely related philosophy is both to other fields of inquiry and to everyday thinking. If things go well, you will enjoy getting flabbergasted about how shaky various claims are that you have always taken for granted and sharpen your reasoning skills along the way.

Apply for Horizons Summer 2022

    I Agree to Privacy Policy & consent to being contacted by AshokaX for course related information.

    Course Faculty

    Mahavir Jhawar

    Raja Rosenhagen

    Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh

    Raja Rosenhagen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Ashoka University. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 2018 from the University of Pittsburgh. He also holds an M.A. from the University of Münster in Philosophy, Indian Studies, and Psychology. Raja’s interests are broad and include Philosophy of Mind (especially Perception), Metaphysics and Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, History of Philosophy, Logic, Philosophy of Love, and Indian Philosophy. He is currently working on a few essays in epistemology and philosophy of mind as well as on a book that ties together pretty much all his interests. Since 2019, Raja has been serving as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Ashoka University and has also recently taken on the role of Head of the Department of Philosophy.

    Horizons Course Objectives

    Discover Your Interest and Aptitude

    Go Deep Into Specific Disciplines

    Learn with Amazing Peers from Schools across India

    Explore Unique Perspectives and Ideas

    Develop New Skills and Abilities

    Learning Support for the Course

    MaryAnne Rodrigues

    Teaching Assistant

    MaryAnne Rodrigues – Teaching Assistant
    MaryAnne is a third-year Philosophy major. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, political and social philosophy and ethics. At present, she serves as one of the Student Representatives of the Philosophy department and is working on an undergraduate thesis on Moral Laziness. In her spare time, she enjoys illustrating, language learning and reading more underrepresented voices in Philosophy. She has found learning Philosophy at Ashoka, both as a student and as a teaching assistant, to be intellectually challenging, personally rewarding and an absolute joy. This is her second time being a Teaching Assistant for this course and she can’t wait to learn from and with all of you!

    Arya Amritansu

    Teaching Assistant

    Arya Amritansu – Teaching Assistant

    Madhavi Menon

    Professor of English, Ashoka University

    Director, Centre for Studies in Gender & Sexuality

    Director of the PhD Programme in English

    Ph.D. Tufts University

    Madhavi Menon is an eminent theorist and scholar of gender, sexuality, politics, and identity. 

    She joined Ashoka University in 2013 as one of its founding faculty members. She went on to establish the university’s Centre for Gender & Sexuality Studies (CSGS), which is the first of its kind in India. Previously, she was a professor at Ithaca College and American University

    Most prominently known for her work on queer theory and Shakespeare, she has also edited the collection Shakesqueer and written three books on Shakespeare and sexuality. She is also most recently the author of Infinite Varieties: A History of Desire in India and Law of Desire: Rulings on Sex & Sexuality in India. 

    In addition to being Director of CSGS, she is the Director of the Ph.D. programme in English and Professor of English at Ashoka University.