Liberal theory and practice rests upon, and constantly re-affirms, a division between the secular/rational and the religious/faithful aspects of individual life. This paper will explore the philosophical implications of an alternative Gandhian understanding of the role of faith and reason in individual life. The paper will argue that M K Gandhi thought of moral life differently from both the religious traditionalist and the liberal. The distinctiveness of Gandhi’s vision came from the manner in which he could reconcile two very different (...) ways of thinking about the good human life. These could be simply put as the religious insight into the good life as an essentially integrated life and the alternative liberal insight that morality was better connected with the idea of universalizability/reciprocity. The first section of this paper entitled “An alternative Gandhian understanding of faith, reason, and the integrity of the good life” philosophically unpacks Gandhi’s arguments about the integrity between faith and reason in reading religious texts with a view to living a good life. The second section is entitled “On religious belief: Gandhi and liberalism”. It brings out the differences between Gandhi and liberals on faith, reason, and the truth of religious belief. Both Gandhi and the liberals agree that religious beliefs should be held with modesty. However, the liberal argument for modesty comes from an avowed skepticism about the truth of religious belief. It is such skepticism that philosophically grounds the liberal division between faith and reason. In this section, there will be an attempt to bring out Gandhi’s reasons for being modest about religious beliefs held with certitude. The paper ends with the thought that though one cannot say which of these positions on faith and reason—Gandhian or liberal—is more coherent, there is some reason for exploring the Gandhian position if only because religious persons can act on Gandhi’s arguments quite consistently with their faith. (shrink)
This paper makes an attempt to philosophically re-construct what I have termed as a fundamental paradox at the heart of deontological liberalism. It is argued that liberalism attempts to create the possibilities of rational consensus and of bringing people together socially and politically by developing methodologies which overcome the divisive nature of essentially parochial substantive conceptions of the good. Such methodologies relying on the supposed universally valid dictates of reason and notions of procedural rationality proceed by disengaging men from the (...) divisive particularities of their plural value contexts. That disengagement is sought to be achieved by conceptualizing the individual as self sufficient in her moral and epistemic being thereby conceptually isolating individual man from the other. The liberal effort to create rational consensus which can bring people together then gets off the ground by isolating the individual from the other. This I have termed as the paradox of the self and the other or alternatively the paradox of social atomism and universalism. As a possible philosophical alternative this paper makes an attempt to re-construct Gandhi’s conceptualization of the relationship between swaraj as self rule and Satyagraha as non-violent resistance. This Gandhian connection, it is argued, has the potential to transform the moral psychology of our response to the other, thereby posing a challenge to the modern, predominantly liberal, conceptualization of such a response. (shrink)
This essay will examine Gandhian ahimsa in its inseparability from truth. In this context, it will take issue with those who have argued that Gandhian ahimsa was either (entirely or in part) drawn from Tolstoy or (entirely or in part) from the anekantavada of the Jains; arguing that while Gandhi was influenced by both these sources, his ahimsa was drawn (in his own admission) from an altogether different source, i.e. from the metaphysics and ethics of the Bhagavad Gita. Even if (...) one were to disregard for the moment the differences between Gandhi and the other interpreters of the Gita (specially from those who were his contemporaries), Gandhi’s drawing of ahimsa as non-violence and a non-passionate universal love from the context of the war between cousins in the Gita might seem surprising. Gandhi’s contemporaries like Tilak and Sri Aurobindo (among others) had argued that the Gita had justified the exception to the law of harmlessness for the sake of duty and suggested that the aim of the Gita was to undertake a critique of the ethical and confirm it’s subordination to the political. Gandhi however had argued (to the contrary) that the metaphysics of oneness in the Gita brought out in the vision of Sri Krishna’s divine form recommended both desireless action and absolute ahimsa; given that to harm anyone or anything in the universe was, quite literally, to harm oneself. (shrink)
This book examines the centrality of ideas such as satya (truth), ahimsa (non-violence), humility, and respect for understanding moral life in the complex milieu of human existence. It provides a comprehensive view of how Gandhian ideas have both a temporal and spatial universality significantly different from Western modern philosophy's universality claims. The chapters represent different styles of philosophy but with a common purpose, offering insights into how the global debates on religion, morality, and politics are assessed from Gandhi's point of (...) view. Written in language accessible to general readers with an interest in Gandhian thinking, the book will appeal to academics and philosophers. (shrink)
This collection of essays by eminent scholars on the reconstruction and critique of Kant's transcendental philosophy in the Indian context specifically discusses moral philosophy, philosophical psychology, religion, and aesthetics.
This collection of essays by eminent scholars on the reconstruction and critique of Kant's transcendental philosophy in the Indian context specifically discusses his ideas on perpetual peace, universal history, and critical philosophy.
This volume discusses the development of the dialogue between Tagore (1861-1941) and Gandhi (1869-1948) during 1915 and 1941, about many things of personal, national, and international significance---satyagraha, non-cooperation, the boycott and burning of foreign cloth, the efficacy of fasting as a means of resistance and Gandhi's mantra connecting "swaraj" and "charkha". The author, Bindu Puri, argues that the debate was about more fundamental issues, such as the nature of truth and swaraj/freedom and the possibilities of untruth that Tagore saw in (...) Gandhi's movements for truth and freedom. Puri shows that the differences between the two men's perspectives came from differently negotiated relationships to (and understandings of) tradition and modernity. Tagore was part of the Bengal renaissance and powerfully influenced by the idea that the Enlightenment consisted in the freedom of the individual to reason for herself. Gandhi, on the other hand, remained close to the Indian philosophical tradition which linked individual freedom to moral progress. Puri points out that Tagore cannot, however, be unreflectively assimilated to the Enlightenment project of Western modernity, for he came fairly close to Gandhi in rejecting the anthropocentricism of modernity and shared Gandhi's belief in an enchanted cosmos. The only single-authored volume on the Tagore-Gandhi debate, this book is a welcome addition to the existing literature. (shrink)
As is fairly well-known several issues raised by Tagore became a subject of some debate between Gandhi and him during the years between 1915 and 1941 (Puri, 2015). These issues could be broadly categorized into two, those concerning an uncritical adoption of the western modular nation as the end/goal by those engaged in the movement for India’s freedom and those concerning satyagraha (in the form of non-cooperation, boycott, fasting, etc.) as the unquestioned “moral” (Bhattacharya, 2008: 49) means to that end. (...) This essay will examine the first set of issues and argue that though Tagore had difficulties with what he described as “the nation of the west” (Tagore, 1996: 425) these difficulties did not amount to a rejection of the “case for self-determination-the forging of the national links” (Berlin, 1999: 264) or of an independent politically reorganized Indian nation but were targeted at the uncritical acceptance of “the nation of the west” (Tagore, 1996. 425)/“cruel epidemic of evil” (ibid., 424) which was “sweeping over the human world” (ibid.); as the goal of India’s struggle for freedom/swaraj. This essay will take issue with scholars who argue that Tagore’s arguments against the western nation did not distance him from Gandhi because both shared insights into the illegitimacy of the nation-state. It will suggest, to the contrary, that what these thinkers had rejected was the modular western nation-state which they saw as a product of enlightenment modernity, and that this was not a rejection of the nation per se. Gandhi and Tagore came together in their “love of country” (Bhattacharya, 2008: 70), expressed in/by a resolve of building a praja or great eastern nesan in continuity with the premodern communities of India’s past. One which was modelled closely along the lines of harmony in diversity and in the spirit of Tagore’s swadeshi samaj/indigenous Indian society. (shrink)
This essay discusses Rawls distinction between the reasonable and the rational in the context of the liberal effort to establish the priority of the right over the good. It argues that inarticulacy about the good makes it difficult for Rawls to find arguments in support of a minimal conception of the reasonable overlapping consensus. The essay examines Rawls’ arguments in support of the distinction between the rational and the reasonable. The paper suggests that in terms of these arguments, the term (...) reasonable seems to be a derivative of the rational. However, this does not stop Rawls from employing that term as if the distinction has been satisfactorily made. Therefore, the philosophical work expected from the term reasonable in Rawls is more than that term is legitimately able to do. Rawls’ arguments explaining reasonable and his arguments employing the term reasonable as a virtue of citizens begin to turn on an equivocation on the use of that term. The conclusion suggests that it is possible to reconstruct Rawls so that the term reasonable can be used in a substantive normative sense without endangering the stability of the overlapping consensus. This is possible if Rawls’ conception of the moral powers of citizens can be philosophically reconstructed as forming part of the basic moral potential of citizens as persons. Such moral potential can be conceived, as prior to and independent of, a complete/partial conception of the good in terms of which that potential might find a complete or partial articulation. (shrink)
This review discussion examines two recent works on Gandhi, Richard Sorabji’s Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values, and Ram Guha’s Gandhi Before India. The review makes the point that we can see Gandhi’s unusual philosophical method at work if the two books are read together. Sorabji has argued that it is essential to understand Gandhi’s philosophy before we can assess the consistency between what he thought, believed and did. Guha has recorded events in Gandhi’s early years that (...) can provide readers with details of Gandhi’s practise and experiments. (shrink)
Tagore and Gandhi shared a relationship across 26 years. They argued about many things including the means for the attainment of swaraj/freedom. In terms of this central concern with the nature of freedom they came fairly close to an issue that has perhaps dominated the (European) Enlightenment. For the Enlightenment has sought to clarify what is meant by individual freedom and attempted to secure such freedom to the individual. This article argues that the Tagore-Gandhi debate can perhaps be reconstructed around (...) the issue of freedom and the collective. Gandhi was able to employ the idea of collective action with conceptual and practical ease. He seemed to have felt no tension between individual freedom and the notion of the collective of which an individual becomes a part in his/her attempt to deal with the contending ‘other’ and secure his /her freedom/swaraj. To understand Tagore’s opposition to the Gandhian idea of swaraj this article draws a philosophical parallel between Tagore and Kant on individual freedom as primarily the freedom to reason. Tagore’s argument seemed to have centered on the insight that the location of the individual in a collective hypostatized self in order to protect his or her freedom from ‘others’ reaffirms the self other divide. The insider-outsider exclusionary dynamics that are generated not only consolidate such distinctions as external to (and outside of) the collective self, but they also initiate internal dynamics that create the ‘silenced insider.’. (shrink)
This paper will consider the ideas of absolute equality and absolute difference that are part of Gandhi’s vision on the plurality of religions. It will fall into three sections. The first section is entitled “Thinking samadarshana through samabhava-Gandhi on “equimindedness” and religious ‘others’”. It will seek to bring out the central ideas in Gandhi’s thoughts on the plurality of religions. In this context the paper will briefly examine the difference between Gandhi’s arguments for absolute equality and the liberal position on (...) religious toleration. The second section will elaborate Gandhi’s reasons for thinking the absolute equality of all religions and will be entitled “The Religion at the heart of all religions- Truth or God”. The third section will be entitled “The truth-untruths of religious others and the duty of resistance: Difficulties with a relativist reading of Gandhi”. It will recapitulate the different strands of the argument in the paper and bring out the implications of ahimsa as love as it transforms resistance to what one thinks of as the truth-untruths of religious ‘others’ in a plural context. It will also take issue with an important contemporary reading of Gandhi, that of Professor Akeel Bilgrami, who reads Gandhi’s position along the lines of a “thorough going relativism about Truth”. In the course of the paper it is hoped to unpack the absolute equality in absolute difference that constituted Gandhi’s vision on the plurality of religions. (shrink)
This paper is in conversation with Richard Sorabji’s reading of the Gandhi Tagore debate. On Sorabji’s account freedom was an important issue in that debate as Gandhi was unable to appreciate Tagore’s emphasis on individual freedom as creativity. While I agree that freedom was an important issue, I argue that Gandhi understood and employed the resources made available by individual creativity. The differences arose because Gandhi thought of freedom as creativity primarily in moral rather than aesthetic terms.
This essay will suggest that Gandhi’s true/real politics can be best understood in terms of the integrity of his ideas. This integrity refers to the fact that Gandhi was a man of integrity but more importantly to the fact that there was an integrity between his ideas and practice and between his ideas themselves. The continuities that we read in Gandhi—between politics and religion, politics religion and morality, the human being and nature and the past and present—can best be unpacked (...) if one were to understand this integrity. This essay will argue that one way to understand it would be to see that Gandhi’s arguments in economics, politics, religion, and even aesthetics drew from his fundamental moral convictions. Accordingly, the first part of this essay will suggest that Gandhi’s politics was premised on his integrity, i.e. on the idea that a human being ought to live an undivided life integrated around and by a commitment to his/her fundamental moral beliefs. The second part of the essay will argue then that a truly meaningful philosophical critique of Gandhi’s politics would only be one which could demonstrate how and where Gandhi’s politics failed to remain integrated with his fundamental moral convictions, i.e. which demonstrated how the integrity between Gandhi’s ideas themselves and between his ideas and practice broke so to say. In this context, the second section of the essay will bring in and philosophically examine Ajay Skaria’s, (Skaria, 2016) argument that satyagraha as a religion of the question (always seeking the truth which the satyagrahi did not know) involved the use of force and the imposition of the thekana/proper on the other. The essay will discuss this critique with a view to examine if it demonstrates that Gandhi’s practice disrupted his integrity both of his character and that between his ideas. (shrink)