by Jerry Varakukalayil, sdb
NASHIK-DIVYADAAN, OCTOBER 25, 2014: The Mph (Master of Philosophy) students of Divyadaan together with Fr. Felix Fernandes and Fr. Ashley Miranda attended the 39th Annual Research Seminar of Association of Christian Philosophers of India (ACPI). It dwelt on the theme "The Symbolic World: Construction and Deconstruction." It was held at St. Joseph Pontifical Seminary, Carmelgiri, Aluva, between October 15 and 18, 2014. Professors of Philosophy from various seminaries and colleges of India, as well as post graduate students of philosophy, participated in the event. In all, there were more than a hundred participants. Among other dignitaries was Dr. K.S. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Kerala who delivered the inaugural address.
Reflection on the theme brought to light the fact that symbols form an integral part of each one's life as human beings. Symbols extend beyond mere discursive reasoning since they speak of a surplus of meaning. As symbols have a way of confering meaning and identity, the papers presented emphasized on the need to be sensitive and alive to the symbolic element in our lives. This will ensure that all people live meaning-filled and purpose-driven lives. Many important insights were touched upon during the seminar. Becoming aware of the narratives lived out by the marginalised peoples of the world was one such point. Being conscious of the role of the symbol in media was yet another point that they dwelt on. For sure, symbols have a way of shaping one's understanding of life and society.
Fr. Ashley Miranda presented a paper, "The Power of Narrative and Myth in Creating Moral and Religious Value," and Fr. Felix Fernandes spoke on the topic, "The Symbolic Nature of Indigenous Wisdom." After the concluding session on October18, the organizing committee arranged a boat trip at Ernakulam, in which most of the participants took part. The participants from Divyadaan took the opportunity to pay a visit to the tomb of St Alphonsa as well as other places of special significance in and around Kochi before returning home on October 21.