The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

By Amartya Sen

In 16 associated essays, Nobel Prize--winning economist Amartya Sen discusses India's highbrow and political history and the way its argumentative culture is essential for the luck of its democracy and secular politics. The Argumentative Indian is "a bracing sweep via elements of Indian heritage and tradition, and a tempered research of the hugely charged disputes surrounding those subjects--the nature of Hindu traditions, Indian id, the country's large social and fiscal disparities, and its present position on the planet" (Sunil Khilnani, Financial Times, U.K.).

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In spite of the fact that, even supposing Buddhism served as a significantly very important impact, the highbrow interactions among the 2 international locations initiated by means of Buddhism weren't constrained to faith in basic terms. The non-religious (or what, in present terminology, might be referred to as 'secular' ) outcomes of those family stretched good into technological know-how, arithmetic, literature, linguistics, structure, medication and track. we all know from the flowery money owed left by means of a couple of chinese language viewers to India, corresponding to Faxian -in the 5th century and Xuanzang and Yi Jing within the seventh,2 that their curiosity used to be on no account constrained to non secular concept and practices purely. equally, the Indian students who went to China, specifically within the 7th and 8th centuries, incorporated not just spiritual specialists, but additionally different execs, resembling astronomers and mathematicians. it isn't, notwithstanding, effortless to rescue the diversity and succeed in of early Sino­ Indian highbrow relatives from their interpretational confinement within the spiritual basket. certainly, non secular reductionism has been rein­ compelled in recent times via the modern obsession with classifying the area inhabitants into targeted 'civilizations' outlined mostly via faith (well illustrated, for instance, by means of Samuel Huntington's parti­ tioning of the area into such different types as 'Western civilization', 'Islamic civilization', 'Buddhist civilization', 'Hindu civilization' ) . CHINA AND INDIA there's, for this reason, a bent to determine humans mostly - or maybe completely - by way of their faith, even supposing that attribution of a unique id can fail to see a lot that's vital. This segregation has already performed major damage to the knowledge of alternative components of the worldwide historical past of rules and commitments, for instance in the course of the confusion it generates among the heritage of Muslim humans more often than not and Islamic historical past specifically, ignoring the flowering of technology, arithmetic and literature pursued by means of Muslim intellectuals, fairly among the 8th and the 13th centuries. * there's, in reality, one other issue that impacts this interpretational bias. there's a strange dichotomy within the method within which Western and non­ Western rules and scholarship are at the moment comprehended, with an inclination to characteristic a primary position to religiosity in analyzing the works of non-Western intellectuals who had secular pursuits besides powerful non secular ideals. it really is, for instance, now not assumed that, say, Isaac Newton's medical paintings has to be understood in essentially Christian phrases (even although he did have Christian beliefs), nor presumed that his contributions to worldly wisdom needs to by some means be interpreted within the mild of his deep curiosity in mysticism (important as mystical speculations obviously have been to Newton himself and maybe even for the various motivation for his efforts) . In con­ trast, by way of non-Western cultures, non secular reductionism has a tendency to exert a gripping impression. for instance, there's a frequent tendency to presume that not one of the normal highbrow works of Buddhist students or of Tantric practitioners in India or China may be 'properly understood' other than within the exact mild in their spiritual ideals and practices.

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