The aim of this essay is to (re)introduce D. P. Chattopadhyaya (1931–2022, henceforth DPC), one of the key-players in the field of contemporary Indian philosophy, his main books, his community-building activities, and his unique life-story. A modern Rājarṣi, DPC was both a philosopher and a statesman who served both as a minister in the Indian government in the 1970s and as the governor of Rajasthan in the early 1990s. The Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad narrates the famous story of two birds sitting on a single branch, one eating a fig, the other watching-witnessing. DPC’s life-story and writings show that the two birds could be one and the same, namely that action and reflection, or engagement and the detachment needed for reflection, do not necessarily exclude one another but can in fact complement and contribute to one another. Relying primarily on DPC’s chapter “A Short Intellectual Autobiography of D. P. Chattopadhyaya,” written by him in 1999, but not forgetting the next decade of his writing-life, this essay focuses on DPC’s contribution in the fields of phenomenology, philosophy of science and mind, and socio-political philosophy, and on his pivotal role in the ongoing attempt to decolonize knowledge towards the fulfillment of the ideal of Svaraj in Ideas, “independent thinking.” DPC is further depicted in the present essay as a comparative philosopher without borders, drawing on materials from different traditions of thinking, and committed to interdisciplinarity, traveling freely between disciplines, languages, eras, and life-experiences.
- D. P. Chattopadhyaya
- Marx and Aurobindo
- contemporary Indian philosophy
- decolonizing knowledge
- phenomenology without borders
- philosophy of science
- social and political philosophy