The fifth in the series of Ramin Jahanbegloo's interviews of prominent intellectuals who have influenced modern Indian thought, in Talking Politics Jahanbegloo converses with Bhikhu Parekh, one of the leading political philosophers of our time. The book addresses issues encompassing cultural diversity and global ethics to universal moral rights and duties, liberal democracy, and the importance of multiculturalism in the contemporary global scenario. The dialogue flows effortlessly from Parekh's descriptions of his early life in undivided India, his travels in Europe, (...) his experiences in Westminster to discussions on caste-system, untouchability, Islam and Europe, relevance of Gandhian philosophy in contemporary world, and finally his entry into the House of Lords. Engaging and thought-provoking, this book is journey into the life and work of one of the leading political thinkers of our time. (shrink)
In this paper I intend to concentrate on post-independence India, and to explore why a free and lively society with a rich tradition of philosophical inquiry has not thrown up much original political theory. The paper falls into three parts. In the first part I outline some of the fascinating problems thrown up by post-independence India, and in the second I show that they remain poorly theorized. In the final part I explore some of the likely explanations of this neglect. (...) In order to avoid misunderstanding, four points of clarification are necessary. First, by Indian political theory I mean works on political theory written by Indian writers irrespective of whether they live in India or outside it, and exclude the works of non-Indian writers on India. Secondly, I am primarily concerned with Indian political theory rather than with Indian political theorists. Although political theory is generally practised by political theorists, it is not their monopoly. Sociologists, historians, economists, philosophers, jurists and others too ask theoretical questions about political life. I will therefore cast my net wider and look at the works of these writers as well. It is my contention that political theory is underdeveloped among not only Indian political theorists but also their cousins in allied disciplines. Thirdly, I define the term political theory in as culturally neutral a manner as possible. For a variety of reasons too complex to discuss here, political theory has a longer history and is more developed in the West than elsewhere. However it is not absent in most other civilizations. Minimally it is concerned to offer a coherent and systematic understanding of political life, and is three-dimensional. It is conceptual in the sense that it defines, analyses and distinguishes concepts, and develops a conceptual framework capable of comprehending political life. It is also explanatory in the sense that it seeks to make sense of political life, and to explain why it is constituted and conducted in a particular manner and how its different parts are related. Finally, it is normative in the sense that it either justifies the way a society is currently constituted, or criticizes and offers a well-considered alternative to it. Since political theory understood in these terms is to be found in most major traditions of thought including the Indian, albeit in different forms and degrees, our definition is not or only minimally open to the charge of ethnocentrism or universalizing its Western form. (shrink)
Identity refers, among other things, to what distinguishes an individual and makes him or her this person rather than some other. It has two closely related dimensions: personal and social. Personal identity refers to the individual's fundamental beliefs and commitments in terms of which he orientates himself to the world and defines his place in it. Social identity refers to those relations with which the individual identifies and which he regards as an integral part of himself. Social identity is inherently (...) plural. How an individual balances and prioritizes different identities is a result of the dialectic between her self-understanding and social and political environment. (shrink)
Mill, J. S. Bentham.--Whewell, W. Bentham.--Watson, J. Bentham.--Hart, H. L. A. Bentham.--Parekh, B. Bentham's justification of the principle of utility.--Peardon, T. Bentham's ideal republic.--Hart, H. L. A. Bentham on sovereignty.--Burns, J. H. Bentham's critique of political fallacies.--Mitchell, W. C. Bentham's felicific calculus.--Roberts, D. Jeremy Bentham and the Victorian administrative state.