Akeel Bilgrami

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Akeel Bilgrami is an Indian-born philosopher of language and of mind, and the author of Belief and Meaning, Self-Knowledge and Resentment, and Politics and the Moral Psychology of Identity (forthcoming), as well as various articles in Philosophy of Mind as well as in Political and Moral Psychology. Some of his articles in these latter subjects speak to issues of current politics in their relation to broader social and cultural issues. He has also increasingly joined debates in the pages of larger-circulation periodicals such as The New York Review of Books[1] and The Nation.[2] He has two upcoming books, "What is a Muslim?" and "Gandhi the Philosopher". Bilgrami is currently the Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University in New York.[3]

Bilgrami received a degree in English Literature from Bombay University before switching to philosophy. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, leaving with a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He earned his Ph.D from the University of Chicago with a dissertation titled "Belief and Meaning", focusing on Michael Dummett's critique of realist accounts of meaning and on the indeterminacy of translation, in which he argues in support of Donald Davidson's thesis that meaning is a form of invariance between underdetermined theories of meaning. (He was supervised by Davidson while at Chicago.) He has been in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia University since 1985 after spending two years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Bilgrami is a secularist and an atheist who advocates an understanding of the community-oriented dimension of religion.[4] For Bilgrami spiritual yearnings are not only understandable but also supremely human. He has argued in many essays that in our modern world, "religion is not primarily a matter of belief and doctrine but about the sense of community and shared values it provides in contexts where other forms of solidarity—such as a strong labor movement—are missing."[5]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Belief and Meaning (Blackwell, 1992)
  • Self-Knowledge and Resentment (Harvard University Press, 2006)
  • Politics and The Moral Psychology of Identity (Harvard University Press, forthcoming)


  1. ^ Edward W. Said, Aga Shahid Ali, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Akeel Bilgrami, and Eqbal Ahmad. "The Satanic Verses" The New York Review of Books; March 16, 1989
  2. ^ Bilgrami, Akeel. "Lessons in Islam From India" The Nation; December 24, 2001
  3. ^ "Columbia University: Directory". Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  4. ^ Bilgrami, Akeel. "What Osama is demanding is on the lips of almost every ordinary Muslim" Redif India Abroad, February 8, 2007
  5. ^ Bilgrami, Akeel. "Gandhi, Newton, and the Enlightenment:Akeel Bilgrami Conjures a World Re-enchanted" Columbia News, November 8, 2006

External links[edit]