NUS Philosophy Department at the Future of Manufacturing Summit 2017

The NUS Philosophy Department was represented at the inaugural Future of Manufacturing Summit 2017, organized by A*STAR, with support from the Economic Development Board (EDB), and held last month at Sentosa Resorts World Convention Centre. A/P Axel Gelfert (NUS Philosophy) gave the closing lecture, titled ‘Four Industrial Revolutions and Counting: Beyond the Rhetoric of Innovation’, to an audience of 200 managers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. The goal of the summit – which also featured Mr. S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), as Guest of Honour – was to bring together global thought-leaders to discuss key topics related to technology trends and industry shifts that are shaping the future of manufacturing from a range of economic, societal and technological perspectives. A/P Gelfert’s lecture was followed by a roundtable that discussed enabling factors and societal implications of the future of manufacturing. Other speakers and panelists included Mr. Tan Choon Shian (Chief Executive of Workforce Singapore), Professor Siegfried Russwurm (former Chief Technology Officer of Siemens corporation), Mr. Low Ka Hoe (Chief Strategy Officer, ST Engineering), and Dr. Yves Rossier (Head of Digital Transformation, Nestlé corporation).

Photos (with permission from A*STAR, for use on NUS website/newsletter)

Professor Tagore’s Visit to Shaoxing

Prof SN Tagore Visit to Shaoxing Photo5On 14th June 2016, our very own A/P Saranindranath Tagore from the Department of Philosophy was invited by the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation and the Indian Consulate in Shanghai to visit Shao Xing University for the event, “Lu Xun and Tagore: A Dialogue Beyond Time and Space” (鲁迅与泰戈尔:跨时空对话).

As two of the greatest literary giants in the 20th Century, Lu Xun and Rabindranath Tagore need no introduction. What is little known, however, is the latter’s admiration of China and the Chinese culture, as well as the respect Lu Xun harbored for his work. It is a real shame that across his multiple visits to China in the 1920s, Tagore never had a chance to formally meet and converse with Lu. After almost 90 years, this wrong is finally made right as Prof Tagore, representing his great grand uncle, met the grandson of Lu Xun, Mr Zhou Ling Fei, who now serves as the Deputy Chairman of the Lu Xun Cultural Foundation. Prof Tagore’s presence at this dialogue was hence also a commemoration and recreation of Tagore’s 1920s China visits.

Prof SN Tagore Visit to Shaoxing Photo3Prof Tagore was joined by eminent Tagore scholar Dr Indra Nath Choudhuri, Dr Sanghamitra Basu of Indira Gandhi National Centre, and Dr Avijit Banerjee of Cheena Bhavan (The Institute of Chinese Language and Culture, founded by Rabindranath Tagore himself). These delegates commented on the popularity of Lu Xun’s works, especially his novels, in India, as well as Tagore’s love of Chinese culture. Similarly, Mr Zhou Ling Fei and delegates from China commented on the popularity of Tagore’s poems in China and Lu Xun’s deep and profound respect for Tagore’s works. Zhou explained that while millions of Chinese marveled at the literary brilliance of Tagore’s poem, Lu Xun, whose own work dwelled on similar themes and reflected similar sensitivities, was able to see deeper into Tagore’s thought and ideas.

CProf SN Tagore Visit to Shaoxing Photo4ommenting on the two great writers, Prof Tagore strongly believes that Lu Xun and Tagore are artists that will stand the test of time, and he has no doubt that as long as human civilization persists, their works will be passed on and read by countless generations. Going beyond the two literary giants Lu Xun and Tagore, the delegates from both India and China emphasized the importance of continuing the healthy cultural exchange between the two Asian nations.

Prof SN Tagore Visit to Shaoxing Photo1Please see the following media coverage of Prof Tagore’s visit.

1 Report by Consulate General of India in Shanghai
2 Report by Press Trust of India
3 Report by India TV
4 杭州日报 Report
5 浙江在线 Report
6 浙江日报 Report
7 浙江日报 Report 2
8 新华网 Report
9 钱江晚报(杭州) ReportProf SN Tagore Visit to Shaoxing Photo2
10 中国新闻网 Report
11 东方教育时报 Report

12 新蓝网/浙江网络广播电视台 Report
13 光明网 Report
14 Other Online Reports
15 Shaoxing University Report

(Prepared by Jeremy Huang with input from A/P Loy Hui Chieh)

What Good is Studying Philosophy?

BenchLet me tell you a joke; one you might hear again and again if you pursue a philosophy degree.

Q: What’s the difference between a philosophy graduate and a bench?

A: A bench can support a family.

The joke, like most jokes, rests on false stereotype: the notion that should you pursue a degree in philosophy, you will find yourself unable to find meaningful employment. But that premise is wrong.

Let us ask what assumptions this thought might be founded on. It is not often spelt out, but I think the rationale typically goes something like this:

In pursuing a philosophy degree, you pursue questions that have no real-life application. When you study the nature of knowledge, or the fundamental structure of reality, or what constitutes right and wrong, you are studying things that are irrelevant to employers, who will consequently be reluctant to employ you.

The argument fails in a number of ways.

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The Philosophy Commencement and Alumni Gathering Party 2013

The Department of Philosophy held its combined Commencement and Alumni Gathering Party on Friday, 28 June 2013 at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House. This is the first time the department has organised a combined event, and it proved to be a huge success, with a total turnout of about 40 people: a colourful mix of graduating students, alumni, and faculty members.

It was an evening of food, philosophy, and fun, as our alumni got to meet up with old friends while graduating students got a chance to interact with their seniors and forge new bonds of friendship. The event was filled with an abundance of delicious food, as well as unique craft beers courtesy of several faculty members of the department. The air was filled with endless rounds of laughter thanks to the numerous jokes and hilarious experiences as shared by all present – including faculty members! And as if that’s not all, there were logic puzzles and insightful food for thought for those present to satisfy their thirst for a good intellectual challenge.

To commemorate this event, each attendee received a Philosophy mug specially designed by A/P John Holbo. And thanks to the Office of Alumni Relations, the graduating students also received a Linus soft toy with a badge saying, “Class of 2013.” (OAR also generously sponsored the rent for the venue.)

Apart from celebrating the beginning of a new life for the graduating students, the students and faculty also paid tribute to A/P Tan Sor Hoon for her six years of hard work as our outgoing Head of Department. In gratitude for her long service in the department, A/P Michael Pelczar presented A/P Tan with a gift on behalf of all the faculty members, and delivered a short note of gratitude for all the work that she has done.

In addition, Lai Weijie, a film producer and an alumnus of the Department, gave a short sharing of his life after graduation. He shared about how A/P John Holbo helped him move into his career in film and what he accomplished since his graduation.

Since this event proved to be a huge success, the Department will be organising a similar event again next year. At the end of the evening, A/P Loy Hui-chieh closed the event with some paradoxical words for everyone to ponder: “If you like the party, the one next year will be just like it; If you don’t like the party, the one next year will be nothing like it; and no, that wasn’t a contradiction.”