A Case of Relational Autonomy in the Mahābhārata : the Story of Pūjanī

Sophia:1-16 (forthcoming)
Authors
Vrinda Dalmiya
University of Hawaii
Abstract
The dialogue between Pūjanī and Brahmadatta is a lesser known episode in the Mahābhārata. This paper explores how Pūjanī’s voice is relevant when rethinking autonomy for feminist relational selves. I first unravel the different ‘stories’ that can be told through this single but multi-layered narrative. Then, by re-arranging their insights and using the idea of ‘normative authority’ proposed by Catriona Mackenzie, I piece together a picture of autonomy foregrounding dependence on others and volatile emotionality––both of which are generally thought to be opposed to ‘being in control’ or being autonomous. This emerging picture of self-governance indicates how even selves constituted by relationships to others can exit relational situations that are or become harmful. I also show that the episode leaves behind ‘internalist’ conceptions of autonomy for more capacious notions of self-determination that incorporate the importance of structural changes for agentive freedom. This goes beyond the insights of the Mahābhārata in a self-reflexive move built into the story itself.
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-018-0644-y
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References found in this work BETA

Personal Autonomy and Society.Marina A. L. Oshana - 1998 - Journal of Social Philosophy 29 (1):81-102.
Must Theorising About Adaptive Preferences Deny Women's Agency?Serene J. Khader - 2012 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 29 (4):302-317.

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