CAT 2021 Question Paper (Slot 2)


The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

It has been said that knowledge, or the problem of knowledge, is the scandal of philosophy. The scandal is philosophy’s apparent inability to show how, when and why we can be sure that we know something or, indeed, that we know anything. Philosopher Michael Williams writes: ‘Is it possible to obtain knowledge at all? This problem is pressing because there are powerful arguments, some very ancient, for the conclusion that it is not . . . Scepticism is the skeleton in Western rationalism’s closet’. While it is not clear that the scandal matters to anyone but philosophers, philosophers point out that it should matter to everyone, at least given a certain conception of knowledge. For, they explain, unless we can ground our claims to knowledge as such, which is to say, distinguish it from mere opinion, superstition, fantasy, wishful thinking, ideology, illusion or delusion, then the actions we take on the basis of presumed knowledge - boarding an airplane, swallowing a pill, finding someone guilty of a crime - will be irrational and unjustifiable.

That is all quite serious-sounding but so also are the rattlings of the skeleton: that is, the sceptic’s contention that we cannot be sure that we know anything - at least not if we think of knowledge as something like having a correct mental representation of reality, and not if we think of reality as something like things-as-they-are-in-themselves, independent of our perceptions, ideas or descriptions. For, the sceptic will note, since reality, under that conception of it, is outside our ken (we cannot catch a glimpse of things-in-themselves around the corner of our own eyes; we cannot form an idea of reality that floats above the processes of our conceiving it), we have no way to compare our mental representations with things-as-they-are-in-themselves and therefore no way to determine whether they are correct or incorrect. Thus the sceptic may repeat (rattling loudly), you cannot be sure you ‘know’ something or anything at all - at least not, he may add (rattling softly before disappearing), if that is the way you conceive ‘knowledge’.

There are a number of ways to handle this situation. The most common is to ignore it. Most people outside the academy - and, indeed, most of us inside it - are unaware of or unperturbed by the philosophical scandal of knowledge and go about our lives without too many epistemic anxieties. We hold our beliefs and presumptive knowledges more or less confidently, usually depending on how we acquired them (I saw it with my own eyes; I heard it on Fox News; a guy at the office told me) and how broadly and strenuously they seem to be shared or endorsed by various relevant people: experts and authorities, friends and family members, colleagues and associates. And we examine our convictions more or less closely, explain them more or less extensively, and defend them more or less vigorously, usually depending on what seems to be at stake for ourselves and/or other people and what resources are available for reassuring ourselves or making our beliefs credible to others (look, it’s right here on the page; add up the figures yourself; I happen to be a heart specialist).

Question 1

The author discusses all of the following arguments in the passage, EXCEPT:

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Question 2

“. . . we cannot catch a glimpse of things-in-themselves around the corner of our own eyes; we cannot form an idea of reality that floats above the processes of our conceiving it . . .” Which one of the following statements best reflects the argument being made in this sentence?

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Question 3

According to the last paragraph of the passage, “We hold our beliefs and presumptive knowledges more or less confidently, usually depending on” something. Which one of the following most broadly captures what we depend on?

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Question 4

The author of the passage is most likely to support which one of the following statements?

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The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

It’s easy to forget that most of the world’s languages are still transmitted orally with no widely established written form. While speech communities are increasingly involved in projects to protect their languages - in print, on air and online - orality is fragile and contributes to linguistic vulnerability. But indigenous languages are about much more than unusual words and intriguing grammar: They function as vehicles for the transmission of cultural traditions, environmental understandings and knowledge about medicinal plants, all at risk when elders die and livelihoods are disrupted.

Both push and pull factors lead to the decline of languages. Through war, famine and natural disasters, whole communities can be destroyed, taking their language with them to the grave, such as the indigenous populations of Tasmania who were wiped out by colonists. More commonly, speakers live on but abandon their language in favor of another vernacular, a widespread process that linguists refer to as “language shift” from which few languages are immune. Such trading up and out of a speech form occurs for complex political, cultural and economic reasons - sometimes voluntary for economic and educational reasons, although often amplified by state coercion or neglect. Welsh, long stigmatized and disparaged by the British state, has rebounded with vigor.

Many speakers of endangered, poorly documented languages have embraced new digital media with excitement. Speakers of previously exclusively oral tongues are turning to the web as a virtual space for languages to live on. Internet technology offers powerful ways for oral traditions and cultural practices to survive, even thrive, among increasingly mobile communities. I have watched as videos of traditional wedding ceremonies and songs are recorded on smartphones in London by Nepali migrants, then uploaded to YouTube and watched an hour later by relatives in remote Himalayan villages . . .

Globalization is regularly, and often uncritically, pilloried as a major threat to linguistic diversity. But in fact, globalization is as much process as it is ideology, certainly when it comes to language. The real forces behind cultural homogenization are unbending beliefs, exchanged through a globalized delivery system, reinforced by the historical monolingualism prevalent in much of the West.

Monolingualism - the condition of being able to speak only one language - is regularly accompanied by a deep-seated conviction in the value of that language over all others. Across the largest economies that make up the G8, being monolingual is still often the norm, with multilingualism appearing unusual and even somewhat exotic. The monolingual mindset stands in sharp contrast to the lived reality of most the world, which throughout its history has been more multilingual than unilingual. Monolingualism, then, not globalization, should be our primary concern.

Multilingualism can help us live in a more connected and more interdependent world. By widening access to technology, globalization can support indigenous and scholarly communities engaged in documenting and protecting our shared linguistic heritage. For the last 5,000 years, the rise and fall of languages was intimately tied to the plow, sword and book. In our digital age, the keyboard, screen and web will play a decisive role in shaping the future linguistic diversity of our species.

Question 5

The author lists all of the following as reasons for the decline or disappearance of a language EXCEPT:

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Question 6

We can infer all of the following about indigenous languages from the passage EXCEPT that:

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Question 7

From the passage, we can infer that the author is in favour of:

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Question 8

The author mentions the Welsh language to show that:

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The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.

I have elaborated . . . a framework for analyzing the contradictory pulls on [Indian] nationalist ideology in its struggle against the dominance of colonialism and the resolution it offered to those contradictions. Briefly, this resolution was built around a separation of the domain of culture into two spheres—the material and the spiritual. It was in the material sphere that the claims of Western civilization were the most powerful. Science, technology, rational forms of economic organization, modern methods of statecraft—these had given the European countries the strength to subjugate the non-European people . . . To overcome this domination, the colonized people had to learn those superior techniques of organizing material life and incorporate them within their own cultures. . . . But this could not mean the imitation of the West in every aspect of life, for then the very distinction between the West and the East would vanish—the self-identity of national culture would itself be threatened. . . .

The discourse of nationalism shows that the material/spiritual distinction was condensed into an analogous, but ideologically far more powerful, dichotomy: that between the outer and the inner. . . . Applying the inner/outer distinction to the matter of concrete day-to-day living separates the social space into ghar and bāhir, the home and the world. The world is the external, the domain of the material; the home represents one’s inner spiritual self, one’s true identity. The world is a treacherous terrain of the pursuit of material interests, where practical considerations reign supreme. It is also typically the domain of the male. The home in its essence must remain unaffected by the profane activities of the material world—and woman is its representation. And so one gets an identification of social roles by gender to correspond with the separation of the social space into ghar and bāhir. . . .

The colonial situation, and the ideological response of nationalism to the critique of Indian tradition, introduced an entirely new substance to [these dichotomies] and effected their transformation. The material/spiritual dichotomy, to which the terms world and home corresponded, had acquired . . . a very special significance in the nationalist mind. The world was where the European power had challenged the non-European people and, by virtue of its superior material culture, had subjugated them. But, the nationalists asserted, it had failed to colonize the inner, essential, identity of the East which lay in its distinctive, and superior, spiritual culture. . . . [I]n the entire phase of the national struggle, the crucial need was to protect, preserve and strengthen the inner core of the national culture, its spiritual essence. . . .

Once we match this new meaning of the home/world dichotomy with the identification of social roles by gender, we get the ideological framework within which nationalism answered the women’s question. It would be a grave error to see in this, as liberals are apt to in their despair at the many marks of social conservatism in nationalist practice, a total rejection of the West. Quite the contrary: the nationalist paradigm in fact supplied an ideological principle of selection.

Question 9

Which one of the following explains the “contradictory pulls” on Indian nationalism?

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Question 10

On the basis of the information in the passage, all of the following are true about the spiritual/material dichotomy of Indian nationalism EXCEPT that it:

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