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

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Forking Paths

Sasheej Hegde is grateful to the authors Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai for their lively participation in a symposium on the book organised by the Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad on 3 March 2020, which also oversaw a critical input from Aseem Prakash of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad and Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan of English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. The event was, fortunately, just before the COVID-19 disruption, although the latter explains largely the delay in our rendition. This paper also celebrates the over three decades of friendship between its two authors—and, even as it bears the brunt of a writing style intrinsic to one of them, the foray marks their shared interests and concerns, at once analytical, ethical and political (of the order of “maitri” as encapsulated in Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social ).

Forking Paths

The attempt here is to think with, and systematically through, Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai’s ambitious work, Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social (2019). Addressing the two configurations of thought underlying the work—namely the focus on “sensing” as central to the conceptualisation of the social and the idea of “the everyday social”—the paper tries to capture the movement of the text and the conceptual manoeuvres underscoring it. The challenges for our attempt at theorising caste are highlighted, even as new pathways are forged for understanding the problem of caste in India.

Setting Forth Stages in Gandhi’s Journey

Gandhi and the Contemporary World edited by Sanjeev Kumar, India: Routledge, 2020; pp 252, ₹ 995 (hardback).

How Do We Rescue Human Rights from Rhetoric?

The human rights discourse today needs to introspect on how it can visualise competing degrees of resolution of human rights ideas advocated by different agents, without harming the principles that are worth retaining.

Ambedkar as a Political Philosopher

Existing studies on B R Ambedkar largely focus on his substantive religious, sociological, political and constitutional concerns, and not on the concepts he deployed for the purpose or modes of his argumentation. His body of work demonstrates that he formulated a number of concepts to take stock of the social reality that he confronted, and/or reformulated existing concepts by critically engaging with the body of scholarship available to him. With regard to the conception of the political, he advanced a comprehensive and consistent design of what it means to live as a public and how best to do so in a setting very different from the West.

Public University in a Democracy

The modern public university in a democracy faces the challenging task of producing and disseminating knowledge. Though the public character and universality of knowledge seem to be threatened today by both the state as well as the market forces, the university cannot afford to remain an apolitical institution in a democracy. There are lessons to be learnt in the debates surrounding the development of German universities and the idea of a university as the idealist philosophers have conceptualised.

Crash of Civilisations

The recently signed Almaty Act called for a dialogue among civilisations - a pioneering endeavour. But as cracks appear in venerated systems and institutions, the need for a search for beliefs assumes enduring importance. This essay suggests that such a search for a priori propositions can only begin if a billion vocies rise and are also willing to listen to one another.

How Gender Figures in Economic Theorising and Philosophy

Women's engagement with economics, in its theory and its practice, takes several forms: to draw attention to problems not addressed before; to point out how the way problems have been addressed are unhelpful or fallacious and lead to wrong conclusions and wrong prescriptions; to critique theories and tools in order to expose their inadequacy or invalidity; to refine existing tools using available frameworks so as to 'let in' gender; and to seek new tools of analysis. The engagement can also be at a more philosophical level, namely, the foundational assumptions of the discipline. This paper seeks to explore these themes.

Feminist Classic Philosophers and the Other Women

Philosophy is concerned with the meaning of human life, whether there is any such meaning and whether the human can be made an object of systematic study. Feminist philosophers have shown that the study of the meaning of human life cannot be done without a feminist worldview. Although high brow philosophical theory is a small, indeed elitist, field it is enormously influential in the long run, with lasting effects on the shape of everyday life. It is important that women infiltrate the field of 'high brow' theory and research. Feminism should not only concern itself with fair play/equality but also with changing the rules of the game. Not only politics, economics and science, but philosophy is very important in making and changing the rules. This paper examines feminist philosophy as a process that has influenced the worldview on women and is significant for a continued emancipation process in development cooperation.

Friends, Foes and Understanding

The language of political economy, international relations and almost the entire range of social sciences remain trapped in metaphors of fear and anxiety that in turn have led to a security-centric universe. Dialogue, a critically existential encounter and an ethical attitude are ruled out. The need then is to go beyond the authoritarian texts and their 'anthropological truths' to find out how in a world rife with contentious politics, themes of dialogue, trust and accommodation can work themselves out.

An Idealist View of Radhakrishnan

Radhakrishnan has been one of the most fascinating, if a little enigmatic, figures of twentieth century India. A statesman among academic philosophers and the only philosopher among Indian statesmen, Radhakrishnan is often worshipped, some times criticised and scarcely read these days. The reputation he enjoyed during his life time is mostly in the domain of history now. The statesman-Radhakrishnan often eclipses or reinforces the philosopher-Radhakrishnan. Why did it happen so? In our anxiety to put him on a high pedestal and to deify him we have distanced this man of flesh and blood so much that we are doing a disservice not only to his memory but to ourselves as well.
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