© 2017

Reflections on Human Inquiry

Science, Philosophy, and Common Life


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 1-10
  3. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 11-30
  4. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 31-50
  5. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 51-65
  6. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 67-81
  7. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 83-96
  8. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 97-116
  9. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 117-131
  10. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 133-152
  11. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 153-169
  12. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 171-185
  13. Nirmalangshu Mukherji
    Pages 187-198
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 199-203

About this book


The twelve exploratory essays collected in this volume examine forms and limits of human inquiry. Where does scientific inquiry significantly apply? Can it cover the vast canvas of human experience? Where do other forms of inquiry, such as philosophy and the arts, attain their salience? With the emergence of the cognitive sciences, these questions have become more intriguing. Can human inquiry investigate its own nature? They are examined by a philosopher whose academic work concerns the study of language and mind; as such, the sceptical inquiry turns on itself.


 [The] essays are reflections of a fine scholar... Their range is wide, and they are at once rigorous and accessible. They … are wise in their understanding of the limits of science’s reach into the domain of what he calls ‘common life’. They will be a source of much pleasure and instruction and insight to the serious reader.

Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University


With remarkable range and depth, these tantalizing essays explore scientific and cultural forms of inquiry, ... and other topics that have inspired reflection on the world and ourselves for ages. At each point, there are instructive and challenging new perspectives and insights … a welcome gift to the inquiring mind.

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Mukherji's interests go well beyond narrow academic concerns. His writings reflect the breadth of his aspirations and should appeal to the general public as well as to the experts.

Francois Recanati, Senior Fellow, CNRS, Paris


Thomas Nagel textuality and interpretation Noam Chomsky grammar and human mind literary mode of life belief as a social concept knowledge as belief anti-realism Nancy Cartwright methods of human inquiry context of human knowledge semantics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of DelhiDelhiIndia

About the authors

Nirmalangshu Mukherji is a former Professor of Philosophy at the University of Delhi. He is the National Visiting Professor for Indian Council of Philosophical Research (2015-16). His primary academic interest is the study of language and mind. His publications in this broad area include The Cartesian Mind: Reflections on Language and Music (2000) and The Primacy of Grammar (MIT, 2010). He also co-edited Noam Chomsky’s The Architecture of Language (OUP, 2000). Professor Mukherji is also professionally interested in the nature of human inquiry, including the character of philosophical practice. Some of his work in this area is collected in the present book. He is actively engaged with issues of peace, justice and human rights. Apart from many dozens of articles, he has two books: December 13: Terror over Democracy (Bibliophile South Asia, 2005) and Maoists in India: Tribals under Siege (Pluto 2012, Amaryllis 2013).

Bibliographic information


“Mukherji’s volume is very rich, bringing together a number of issues in recent/late twentieth century philosophy, without being overwhelming. … Well written, this is an enjoyable book to read, that seeks to bring philosophical debate to a broad audience.” (William Sweet, Sophia, Vol. 59, 2020)