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

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On Philosophical Causality and the Problem of Evil

Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste

On Philosophical Causality and the Problem of Evil

Caste: The Lies That Divide Us by Isabel Wilkerson, Allen Lane, New Delhi: Penguin Random House, 2020; pp 496, `599 (hardcover).


Isabel Wilkerson invokes a kind of metaphysical rationalism from where to think of a thing involves knowing both its cause and effect. Caste and race are things that exemplify negativity or “evil” as she prefers to call it. On the other hand, metaphysical rationalism is akin to divine epistemology of the human mind, not pitted against god but actually treated as comparable and coeval. Once you collapse the rational and the metaphysical, there is scope for breaching the walls of race and caste or flattening hierarchical forms of thought and being across species and within species.

How does Wilkerson relate caste to race? She holds the view that caste is in a primary relationship to race. The ubiquity and the ever-replenishing cultural authority of caste needs to be understood as necessary to providing a blueprint and road map for understanding race. In my view, the promise of the book tends to be the unravelling of the absurdity and the visceral character of thought ­associated with race but derived from the humongous negativity of caste. This derivation of race from caste is not analogical, sociological or historical but ­attempts to deploy a kind of a metaphy­sical rationalism.

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Updated On : 1st Mar, 2021


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