ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Expanded Perspective of Doing Philosophy

Satya Pal Gautam (1951–2018)

Satya Pal Gautam was a scholar in philosophy but his wide-ranging interests in literature, poetry and music made him a wonderful conversationalist and teacher. He played a key role in building up teachers’ organisations in the Panjab University.

It was a bleak morning when the news of leading left-wing philosopher and teacher Satya Pal Gautam’s untimely death was shared by friends and family in frantic phone calls. His colleagues in the Department of Philosophy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), where he worked for the last 12 years (2004–16) of his long academic life, were waiting for him to join a seminar—ironically—on death. On that day, 30 January 2018, Gautam (as he was fondly called) died in his rented apartment in MunirkaDDA close to JNU, Delhi.

Gautam had a distinct presence, with a characteristic, brisk walk, usually matched by a measured tone of voice, for he loved to talk while he walked. Occasionally, his voice would rise with excitement as he got carried away with the conviction of the argument he was about to clinch. But he always listened to others, and listened carefully and well. He often paused to collect his thoughts, to formulate an answer and then to push the conversation to another level of intensity. With a phenomenal memory he would effortlessly recall conversations and events from the past to embellish his stories.

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