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

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Mirror and the Lamp

Land, Guns, Caste, Woman: The Memoir of a Lapsed Revolutionary by Gita Ramaswamy, New Delhi: Navayana Publishing, 2022; pp 432, `599.

In Deepa Dhanraj’s film, We Have Not Come Here to Die (2018), which follows the events after Rohith Vemula’s death on the campus of the University of Hyderabad, there is an unforgettable scene in which Ambedkarite students and Vemula’s friends storm the science building demanding accountability from the vice chancellor, who is also a scientist. The camera notes the stand-off as disaffected science students murmur that Vemula was no brother of theirs. Outside, a student expresses annoyance at the interruption of her research. The scene calls to mind the anti-Mandal agitations led by medical students against caste reservations, and both beg the question: Does disciplinary training preclude fraternity and social conscience? It is a question we might associate with the debate between Karl Popper and the Frankfurt School (Adorno et al 1977). The Frankfurt School—known for critical theory—attempted a practical theory of society in the wake of fascism in Europe, while Popper’s critical empiricism and his falsification principle turned away from the deterministic outlook of Marxism in his time. This debate demonstrated that for both the sciences and the social sciences, knowledge cannot avoid value judgments, whether in subjecting empirical questions to scientific investigation or by proceeding with a philosophical view of the social totality.

Science in the Field

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Updated On : 31st Oct, 2023
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