'Philosophy can help us to see the world without any prejudices and make us more open minded...'
Studying towards a PhD in Philosophy
Lecturer, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh
With previous studies in Mathematical Logic, Social Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Manchester in the UK, Syed finds passion in applying mathematical theory to understanding the decisions we make in the world.
‘My fascination with traditional and critical ideas in philosophy and logic has, and continues to, define my major life choices,’ he says. ‘To most of us philosophy is an abstract subject to pursue and has very little impact on our day to day life. However, I think it plays an important role outside academia, as philosophy gives emphasis on critical thinking.
‘This can help us to see the world without any prejudices and make us more open minded; most of all, for peaceful coexistence in any multicultural society. We need to develop a rational and empathic understanding of each other and that cannot be done without philosophy. This aspect attracts me most.’
Syed is originally from Bangladesh, where he works as part of the Philosophy Department at Jahangirnagar University. He decided to pursue a PhD to continue building on his knowledge for teaching students and research.
He has recently published a book titled Colonization of Indian Art and S. M. Sultan, exploring the impact colonisation had on post sixteenth-century Indian art, and philosophical discussions around the effects it had on their culture.
Syed’s current research investigates non-western modes of philosophy, particularly the Buddhist logic system Catuṣkoṭi, which offers four possibilities of a situation – it can be true, false, both true and false simultaneously, or neither. Syed hopes to be able to create a mathematical logic system that can better understand eastern philosophy.
‘Even though it sounds very technical there is a wider significance of my research. For a long time western forms of rationality was and still is considered the only form of rationality. My research questions this idea, and gives emphasis on context-dependent views of rationality. If we ignore completely the context-dependent aspect of such primary ideas then there is a chance we might end up with a narrow view of the world.
‘Comparing different traditions of reasoning will give a sound foundation for global philosophical thoughts, which we need most in search of peace and stability in a time of international discontent.’
Choosing to carry out his PhD in New Zealand, following his wife completing her own PhD in transgender studies at AUT, was motivated by the current studies in philosophy coming from the area.
‘Australasian academia is very open-minded to cutting-edge research in logic,’ he says. ‘A number of recent developments have been made by New Zealand and Australian logicians and philosophers. Their contributions are playing an important role in shaping the future of research in logic, which is why I think this part of the world is the best place to study paraconsistent logic.’
UC in particular has housed a number of influential philosophers and logicians in its time – such as Karl Popper and Arthur Prior – and still continues to be an effective part of philosophical research.
‘UC’s reputation in this field is well known,’ Syed says. ‘Most important of all, my research is interdisciplinary by nature, so it is necessary that I pursued it at an institution where cross-disciplinary work is already recognised. The department is open to cutting-edge research in non-classical logic and philosophy.’
The community has made him feel very welcome, especially as an international student.
‘The UC administration and faculties are very open minded to international students and other cultures. They are actively engaged in accommodating international students. Moreover, local students are also friendly and helpful. This semester I am working as a tutor for one of the first-year modules, and I enjoy the active discussions with the other students.’
As such, Syed highly recommends study here to other international students, and sees UC becoming more multicultural in the near future.
‘New Zealand is the best place to be, especially at this time of world politics. You can have world-class education, a taste of European culture and academic freedom without being stigmatised. I really think over the coming decades more international students will come for higher studies and research. Without any doubt, I will say you can have best of both worlds in New Zealand.’