Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Argumentative Indian

About a year ago, my Senior Associate Dean recommended Sen's book to me; my wife bought it for me the other day. It is so far very good. I am particularly taken with this passage.

"The nature of [western descriptions of the Indian intellectual tradition] has tended to undermine an adequately pluralistic understand of Indian Intellectual traditions. While India has certainly inherited a vast religious literature, a large wealth of mystical poetry, grand speculation on transcendental issues,
and so on, there is also a huge--often pioneering--literature, stretching over two and a half millennia, on mathematics, logic, epistemology, astronomy, physiology, linguistics, phonetics, economics, political science and psychology, among other subjects concerned with the here and now.

Even on religious subjects, the only world religion that is firmly agnostic (Buddhism) is of Indian origin, and further the atheistic schools of Varvaka and Lokatay have generated extensive arguments that have been studied by Indian religious scholars. themselves...

...What is in dispute here is not the recognition of mysticism and religious initiatives in India, but the overlooking of all other intellectual activities that are also abundantly present. In fact, despite the grave sobriety of Indian religious preoccupations, it would not be erroneous to say that India is a country of fun and games..."

I have been privileged to visit many places in my life. I am gaining a better understanding about why India has been among my favorite.

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