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

RationalismSubscribe to Rationalism

Practices as Political

Whether the “practising Adivasi” or the practitioners of traditional knowledge are subjects of different rationality is examined here. Through a study of the Lepcha traditional practices in the east Himalayas, it is argued that the practising Adivasi or indigenous peoples are indeed presenting empirical sites of “ethico-political articulations,” or “Ecosophy,” a term Félix Guattari uses in The Three Ecologies to advocate a normative theory and a “futuristic” approach. The study affirms that the recalcitrant Adivasis, who, as groups of our times, are presenting us with life-sustaining zones of pristine biodiversity as alternatives to the nature-devouring, deep industrialisation models of the modern state.

Reason or Irrationality:Time to Choose

Intellectually well-meaning criticisms of many policies of US governments have been internalised as hatred of America and Americans in the conscious or unconscious minds not only of the lunatic fringe of religious fundamentalists but also of large numbers of apparently rational people, particularly in the poorer countries. In the aftermath of the maniacal attacks of September 11 the foremost challenge will be to dispel the clouds of hatred if irrationality is not to triumph over reason.

Science, Astrology, and Democratic Society

The proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to start courses in astrology has drawn predictable responses. These have by and large opposed astrology because it is not ‘scientific’, thereby unthinkingly and uncritically valorise ‘science’ as it is practised and taught. Both the content and utility of science, in their arguments, are sacrificed at the altar of method and procedure. Astrology, it is being said, cannot be introduced in universities because they cannot meet the scientific standards of reliability, validity, and falsification among others. At the same time, the larger context in which astrology is located in Indian (read Hindu) society is ignored. This discussion is based on articles in the media, many written by leading scientists, criticising the UGC proposal.

Breaking the Spell of Dharma

This paper makes a fresh case for the renewal of an Enlightenment-style critique of the dharmic understanding of nature and society in India. Challenging the postmodernist and postcolonial critics who reduce the Euro-American Enlightenment to discourses of western imperialism and patriarchy, the author seeks to recover the critical impulse behind it and attempts to find cultural homologues for an Enlightenment-style 'revolt against superstition' in Indian society. By analysing how Hindu dharma naturalises hierarchy and patriarchy, the paper argues for the need for a scientific demystification of the order of nature. Without a critical engagement with the content of Hinduism's sacred tenets, it is argued here, secularisation of consciousness and culture cannot succeed.
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