Akeel Bilgrami is Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and the former Director of the Heyman Center for the Humanities, at Columbia University. He holds a bachelor's in English literature from Bombay University, a bachelor's in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, with a dissertation, "Meaning as Invariance," on the subject of the indeterminancy of translation and issues concerning realism and linguistic meaning. He joined Columbia University in 1985 after spending two years as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Bilgrami has two relatively independent sets of intellectual interests--in the Philosophy of Mind and Language, and in Political Philosophy and Moral Psychology especially as they surface in politics, history, and culture. In the former, he has published a book in 1992 called Belief and Meaning (Blackwell) and another book published in 2006 called Self Knowledge and Resentment (Harvard University Press). He is presently working on a book on the relations between agency and practical reason.
In the latter, Bilgrami has written extensively on issues of secularism, identity, and also on a range of issues that emerge from Gandhi's philosophy, such as the transformation of the concept of nature into the concept of natural resources. His collection of essays called Politics and The Moral Psychology of Identity was released in 2011 from Harvard University Press. He is also 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).
In this lecture, Bilgrami will address the issue of modern political thought from the point of view of the countries of the global South, where there is far less secularization than there is in the West and North. Gandhi's religiousity and its views and modern political assumptions will frame the talk.