Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Apprehending the "actual tradition"

Confronting Indology – Part 2 by @RamKumar1133

Rita Felski argues that over the past few decades, many in cultural studies and literature have thought of themselves as engaged in “critique”, or “critical theory” that has its roots in the Frankfurt school as mentioned above.  [...] Critical theory is washed over by a thought process called “Postmodernism” that is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and the existence of absolute truth.  
It asserts that all knowledge and truth are products of unique systems of social, historical, and political discourse, and are therefore contextual and constructed.  The phrase “There are no truths, only interpretations” is a standard characterization of postmodern criticism. The skepticism regarding “grand narratives” is due to the musings of Francois Lyotard, a French philosopher.
The critical theorist, in order to develop his or her ‘critique’, has several tools at his or her disposal, including Freudian (and Lacanian, from Jacques Lacan another psychologist considered to be the most controversial since Freud) psychoanalysis which is obviously useful for determining hidden, subliminal messages that the text can be alleged to have outside of what is actually written. Another tool is one of “Deconstruction” [...]
But the more relevant lesson from the Gita might be to understand that just as man is fooled by the material world which is but a mere shadow of the spiritual world, so too is critical theory the maya to the actual texts and philosophies. As such, there is certainly a battle needed to make the public aware of the need to not confuse what “critical theory” says to the actual tradition itself. And in a world where “critical theory” has become the dominant academic paradigm, confronting its modus operandi is definitely required. But how can this be achieved? Pollock is merely one termite from the termite hill that is critical theory. [...]
From the previous section on ‘critical theory’ and the nature of the modern discipline of ‘critique’, there is little reason to be optimistic on countering ‘critique’ by traditional arguments that logically strive for the “truth”, such as they may be. Given that ‘critique’ takes the position of opposing what this truth is, even by jettisoning truth claims itself by saying there is “no objective truth, only narratives”, it appears that the strategy of uttarapaksha may be futile. Ganesh hints at this in his article when he says
In the Indian debating tradition, the first step is to establish the pramanas (the methods and means by which knowledge is obtained). Then we embark on purvapaksa (a study of what the opponent says) and finally move to siddhanta (a rebuttal to the opponents; also called uttarapaksa). The first imperative step of establishing pramanas is missing in The Battle for Sanskrit.
What Ganesh means here are that there must be consistent ground rules and agreements on the methods and means by which knowledge is obtained. As Kalavai Venkat shows in his article, an evolutionary biologist cannot have a reasonable debate with a theological Christian because the biologist cites empirical evidence whereas the Christian cites the Bible. Our discussion of critical theory should make clear by now that Pollock is not operating in the same axiomatic system that traditional scholars of Sanskrit (even given their heterogeneity) operate in. Since the critical theorist rejects what the texts say, and the authority of author of that text, and looks for “hidden meanings” and “subtexts” via deconstruction, their axioms are not going to be in agreement. 
1) Reading Kalhana's Rajatarangini, am struck by his total honesty in recording good & evil of kings. Hasn't spared anyone, no matter who. 2) Anyone who wants to see what honest recording of history is should keep Kalhana as a role model. See what he writes about Lalitaditya. 6) All RW wannabe historians would benefit from studying Kalhana for honesty, integrity, courage & minutiae. Better than Greek historians.
@maidros78 I'm curious to know how does one verify? His narrative may be written in a way to create trust but certifying it's true is dicey.

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