“VARIETIES OF PHILOSOPHICAL TOURISM”

Got bored during lockdown? Cannot go out? Let us have a conceptual voyage and explore various possibilities of Philosophical tourism.

Educational and Medical tourism are known but not Philosophical tourism.

1.Though it can be equated with a pilgrim, it is just a kind of Philosophical tourism which may be called Religious Tourism. Religious authorities and their followers take it up regularly and sincerely with strong faith in the religion adhered.

2.The opposite of Religious Tourism may be called Socratic Tourism. Of course, the territory of Socrates was confined to the streets and marketplace of Athens. But what characterizes is the spirit with which he used to tour. He used to begin his conversation with people with a question innocent enough but as an ‘intellectual midwife’, he was expert in compelling laypersons to reflect on their pre-conceived notions, judgements, prejudices, preferences. The interrogation was with a view to enable the speaker to arrive at precise, accurate, concise ideas resulting in clear thinking. Various places and people can be visited across nations with Socratic method.

3.Tourism is Philosophical if, like Shankaracharya, it is taken up with a definite mission. He established his four Centres- East, West, North and South of India. His aim was to impart Knowledge. It may be called Teleological i.e. purposeful tourism. Since the purpose is Spiritual in nature, it can also be called Spiritual tourism. Vinoba Bhave, in the last century, walked across India appealing landlords to donate land with a view to bridge the gap between haves and have-nots. Considering his aim, it can be regarded as Socio-economic tourism, a sub-kind of teleological tourism.

4.Mystical tourism is unique in several ways. The path need not be chalked out beforehand. No practical action is binding. No definite goal is to be sought which has reference to others. Accessories are as less as possible. Many of them like Lal Ded give up even the clothing. The urge of God-realization surpasses all worldly considerations.

5.Existential tourism, on the contrary, is loaded with material comforts and gadgets but ennui, anguish, dread, alienation, ambiguity characterize human condition even in travels- domestic or international. Memoirs and travelogues authored by them reflect the same.

6.It is possible to travel with ‘Choiceless Awareness’ maintained by J.Krishnamurti. What is needcd is impartial, non-judgemental, unbiased observation. Meditative life, according to him, is life of total awareness. It enables us to travel light. Such a travel which may yield Simplicity, Spontaneity, Creativity, (self-imposed) order and discipline is regarded by him as Right Living. Hence, it may be called “Meditative/ Contemplative Tourism”. Russell’s ‘Free Man’s Worship’ depicts the ideal human existence as one that bows down spontaneously realizing the Infinite, vast expanse through finite human categories of understanding. Immanuel Kant is known for his extremely regular walks. He hardly left his hometown. But walking, for him, could be like contemplative tourism.

7.Philosophical tourism can be contemplative, comparative and critical. Simonne de Beauvoir, e.g. has critically elaborated on her stay in America. It may be viewed as Comparative/ Critical Tourism. She is known for her Feministic writings which reminds us of the possiblility of developing Feminist Tourism- Tourism by women, of women, for women-empowerment. Such attempts have been made with considerable success in the last decade.

8.Being actively engaged in Politics and Political affairs may compel tourism. It can be official, formal tourism and if carried out with Stoic attitude of detachment, it can be regarded as Philosophical tourism.

9.Even if it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain Stoic spirit at all times, it can be Philosophical tourism with the motto “Eat, drink and be merry”. The tourism can be nothing but fun and frolic with all the five senses and, yet, it is Philosophical because it is the prescription of Hedonists and Charvakas/ Lokayatikas. Let us call it “Hedonistic Tourism’’.

10. It is possible to venture out without any definite purpose or motive. It can be for its own sake undertaken with all possibilities fully open. Such a tourism can be called “Agnostic Tourism” as a tourist sincerely holds that tourism may have no purpose whatsoever- I do not know it(I do not think anyone can know it)

Dept of Philosophy @ University of Mumbai