Charles Lamb, distinguishing the new type of school master- who instructed his students in useful subjects and wasn't much older than them himself- from the old fashioned pedant- wrote
Why are we never quite at our ease in the presence of a schoolmaster?—because we are conscious that he is not quite at his ease in ours. He is awkward, and out of place, in the society of his equals. He comes like Gulliver from among his little people, and he cannot fit the stature of his understanding to yours. He cannot meet you on the square. He wants a point given him, like an indifferent whist-player. He is so used to teaching, that he wants to be teaching you. One of these professors, upon my complaining that these little sketches of mine were any thing but methodical, and that I was unable to make them otherwise, kindly offered to instruct me in the method by which young gentlemen in his seminary were taught to compose English themes.—The jests of a schoolmaster are coarse, or thin. They do not tell out of school. He is under the restraint of a formal and didactive hypocrisy in company, as a clergyman is under a moral one. He can no more let his intellect loose in society, than the other can his inclinations. —He is forlorn among his co-evals; his juniors cannot be his friends.
No such school-masters now exist. Kids, since at least the Seventies, have been smarter than teachers and way cooler. If they like you, they may sell you dope. If they don't, invest in a stab-vest.
What do exist are senile Professors who may have seemed cool circa 1968 to eager young graduate students. Amartya Sen is one such. The Premiership of his 'co-eval' Manmohan Singh was as an infernal torment to him. This was the tragedy of the Professors. In their Thirties, they thought they were fine fellows, drawing up the blueprints for a New World Order. Their students would be as a collective and obedient Alexander to the Aristotle they themselves represented. No doubt, they suffered disillusionment in the era of Thatcher and Reagan but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a brief historical moment when they thought their own programmatic nonsense might be 'lux mentis, lex orbis'- that mental enlightenment which gives laws to the world.
The literary persona of Charles Lamb was that of a retiring eccentric who had been content to peck at the sunny side of the peach of literature and who readily confessed himself to be de trop in a bustling, utilitarian, age. Still, he would have readily admitted that 'the enterprise of knowledge' depended on utility. Useful knowledge more than paid for itself. Useless pedagogy was parasitical, though, no doubt, it might confer a distinction of class or caste. Money for it would run out. Those foolish enough to gain credentials in nonsense, would fall behind those who had left school to make money and thus gain power and influence.
Consider the following article by Amartya Sen which came out 22 years ago- a few months before 9/11
History and the enterprise of knowledge
Scientific discoveries- Carbon dating, DNA analysis- greatly improve our knowledge of History. Knowing History- or claiming to do so- does not improve our technology or our ability to fund scientific research. This has been blindingly obvious for at least fifty years.
IN an often-quoted remark, Henry Ford, the great captain of industry, said, "History is more or less bunk." As a general statement about history, this is perhaps not an assessment of compelling delicacy.
Delicacy is never compelling. Otherwise the Gestapo would have been very twee and genteel.
And yet Henry Ford would have been right to think, if that is what he meant, that history could easily become "bunk" through motivated manipulation.
It wasn't. Ford had been mocked, during the course of a trial in court, for his ignorance of almost everything under the Sun other than his own special field. He retaliated by pointing out that stuff you learned at fancy schools was bunk. That's why he could afford to hire hundreds of Ivy League fratboys though no such fellow had made as much money as he had or had as big an impact on not just America but the whole world.
This is especially so if the writing of history is manoeuvred to suit a slanted agenda in contemporary politics.
Sen & Co indulged in nothing but 'slanting'. Yet they had zero influence or, indeed, were actively counter-productive to their own soi-disant cause. Thus Sen whining about Hindus only reminded Hindus that Sen's people had to flee from Muslims in East Pakistan.
There are organised attempts in our country, at this time, to do just that, with arbitrary augmentation of a narrowly sectarian view of India 's past, along with undermining its magnificently multireligious and heterodox history.
East Pakistan had that history. Why did Sen's people run the fuck away from it? The plain fact is that the sub-continent was carved up along confessional lines.
Among other distortions, there is also a systematic confounding here of mythology with history.
Which is why Sen used to tell Osama bin Laden to stop doing Jihad. The stuff he believed was not God's Revealed Truth. It was just mythology.
An extraordinary example of this has been the interpretation of the Ramayana, not as a great epic, but as documentary history, which can be invoked to establish property rights over places and sites possessed and owned by others.
Why did Sen not go to the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh and demand the return of his family's property?
The plain fact is, there was documentary evidence- admissible in Court- that the deity 'Ram Lala' had title to the site. That's why He won his suit.
The Ramayana, which Rabindranath Tagore had seen as a wonderful legend ("the story of the Ramayana" is to be interpreted, as Tagore put it, not as "a matter of historical fact" but "in the plane of ideas") and in fact as a marvellous parable of "reconciliation",
between whom? Ram and Ravana? Fuck off! Ram kills Ravana. That isn't reconciliation. What Tagore had told the Hindus was that if they didn't unite and fight back, the Muslims would grab more and more of their land. Sen & Co, pretended Tagore wasn't the head of a Hindu religious sect of a Vedantic type. He was actually a transgender social worker seeking to combat Islamophobia by fisting himself vigorously.
is now made into a legally authentic account that gives some members of one community an alleged entitlement to particular sites and land,
that's how the law operates. Where there is a property dispute, the court looks at relevant documentary evidence and awards title to one particular side. Sen doesn't get this.
amounting to a licence to tear down the religious places of other communities.
Sen, very bravely, went to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban because they didn't have a 'license' to blow up the Buddha of Bamiyan. I'm kidding. The guy never criticized Muslims for killing Kaffirs though, to be fair, he never uttered a peep against America's War of Revenge which killed 1.3 million Muslims and displaced tens of millions more.
Thomas de Quincey has an interesting essay called "Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts".
It has no relevance in this context.
Rewriting of history for bellicose use can also, presumably, be a very fine art.
It is wholly useless. Military might- which depends ultimately on economic and technological factors- is all that matters when it comes bellicose confrontations- i.e. wars.
I note the contemporary confounding of historical studies in India as the starting point of this lecture, even though I shall not be directly concerned with addressing these distortions:
because those distortions were introduced by Sen's pals.
there are many superb historians in India
Fuck off! They are all shit. You only end up teaching History if you didn't get into the IAS and the thugs on campus showed no great desire to beat or sodomize you.
to give these misconstructions their definitive due. Instead, I shall be concerned with outlining some methodological issues that relate to the subject of truth and falsehood in general history.
There are no 'methodological issues'. There is bigotry and there is academic politics. The rest is stupidity and ignorance.
I will also try to develop and defend a view of history as "an enterprise of knowledge".
Sen's entire oeuvre is shit because he always commits the 'intensional fallacy'. In this case stuff we think we know about the past, or stuff we think we have discovered about the past, is stuff we call history. But what actually happened in the past is something quite different. An 'enterprise' can only concern the first, though it may aim at the second. Consider a cosmetics company. This enterprise makes money by selling stuff which people think makes them more beautiful. But there is no 'enterprise of Beauty' as such, here.
The plain fact is, some people are paid to tell one type of egregious lie about the past and though some other people-working in STEM subjects- may make discoveries about what actually happened- they are not part of the same enterprise unless somebody finds it worthwhile to fund them.
There will be occasional references to contemporary debates (because I shall illustrate the general points with examples from Indian history), but the overall focus will be on more general themes.
Sen can't handle 'general themes' because he is shit at thinking. His every sentence illustrates some logical fallacy or relies upon an exploded meme.
There will be occasions, in this context, to take a fresh look at India's persistent heterodoxy,
but not Pakistan's persistent heterodoxy because...urm...Kaffirs who are not killed tend to run away.
which includes not only its tendency towards multireligious and multicultural coexistence (a point emphasised in Rabindranath Tagore's "vision of India's history"),
Tagore does not mention Muslims or Christians. Why? Tagore says neither would permit multi-religious co-existence. On the other hand, Tagore does show some condescending acceptance of the non-Aryan components of Hinduism but his entire essay is 'Aryanist' and chimes with the repeated calls he was making at that time for Hindus to unite against Muslims and Christians. As a Brahmin, Tagore praises Brahmins. He says ' the great function of the Brahmins of this land, to keep the lamp lighted when the storm has been raging on all sides. It has been their endeavour gradually to permeate the tremendous mass of obstructive material with some quickening ideal of their own that would transmute it into the life-stuff of a composite civilisation; to discover some ultimate meaning in the inarticulate primitive forms struggling for expression, and to give it a voice. In a word, it was the mission of the Brahmin to comprehend by the light of his own mature understanding the undeveloped minds of the people.'
Sen is not a Brahmin. It appears 'Gurudeva' was unable to 'permeate the tremendous mass of obstructive material' in Amartya's mind.
Still, reading Tagore's essay, I begin to sympathize with J.N Mandal.
but also its relevance for the development of science and mathematics in India.
Science and Maths developed where there were useful and could pay for themselves. Otherwise they were preserved by some Brahmins, or other learned or artisanal sub-castes, in a fossilized form.
For history is not only an enterprise of knowledge in itself,
it is only such an enterprise in the sense that a cosmetics company is in the 'Beauty' business.
it cannot but have a special involvement with the history of other enterprises of knowledge.
Just as there is special needs education so too are there needy very very special needs educators. A Corporation might hire one such to write a hagiographic account of its founding dynasty. Equally, a failed mathematician or philosopher cold go in for Begriffsgeschichte- history of concepts. But Sen is too stupid to do any such thing. His career is based on saying Adam Smith liked dusky folk whereas what Smith said was that savages feel no pain. Don't bother whipping or torturing them. Just enslave them already and make sure they are under-fed. Seriously, they are as stupid as shit.
Similarly if Tagore says 'unite against Muslims', Sen says 'Tagore wanted Hindus to offer their backsides to any and every type of anti-Hindu fanatic.
The view of history as an enterprise of knowledge is, of course, very old-fashioned: I am not trying to innovate anything whatsoever.
The old view was that you compile a history by consulting various sources- travelling to do so, if need be- and then see if you can get it published & make money or gain influence by it. This generally involved getting a patron or else writing in an entertaining or enlightening manner.
However, this and related epistemic approaches to history have taken some hard knocks over the last few decades.
Sen & Co shat on History. This was because Indian history militated for uniting against the historic enemies of the Hindu majority. This had come to include the Commies. Still, Indira did a good enough deal with the Left whereby they began a 'long march through the Institutions' into utter senile uselessness.
These have come not so much from sectarian bigots (who have barely addressed issues of method),
The 'sectarian bigots' got 'documentary evidence' that was admissible in Court and thus won their case. Sen's old pal Romila Thapar provided nothing but stupid lies. It's like Sen's old g.f, Martha Nussbaum, telling a court that the ancient Greeks had never thought there was anything bad or shameful about pederasty. When challenged that the word 'tolmema' meant shameful, she pretended she had consulted an old dictionary where this alternative meaning was not mentioned. But, the other side's lawyers were able to show that Nussbaum had tippexed out that meaning in a document submitted to the Court. Nussbaum would soon be getting very angry with Narendra Modi who came to power in Gujarat later that year.
but in the hands of sophisticated methodologists who are not only sceptical of the alleged virtues of modernity and objectivity (often for understandable reasons), but have ended up being deeply suspicious also of the idea of "truth" or "falsehood" in history.
Sen does not understand 'post-modernism' which said that 'grand narratives'- e.g. that of Marx or Freud- were dead. In other words, it wasn't cool to continue saying 'subjectively, it is true that Indians are mainly Hindu, but according to the objective Marxist theory, they are actually Stalinists'. Equally, a Professor who said 'subjectively, you don't want to suck my cock, but according to the objective Freudian theory, you are totes queer for my jizz.'
One reason the post-modernists prevailed was because students started beating the shit out of their Professors. Also, the relative wages of Academics started to fall.
They have been keen, in particular, to emphasise the relativity of perspectives and the ubiquity of different points of view.
Otherwise, if the Gays don't knife them, the Blacks will. The safer bet is to embrace antagonomia and be against everything- except Islam, coz them guys kick ass.
Perspectives and points of view, I would argue, are indeed important,
in every day life. I need to understand that you can't see a guy behind you who is preparing to stick a knife in your back. I need to say 'You can't see the lunatic who is going to knife you. This is because he is behind you. I can see him because he is in front of me. Kindly, turn around or take evasive action'.
not just in history, but in every enterprise of knowledge.
Not to mention finding your way to the toilet.
This is partly because our observations are inescapably "positional".
They may be partial, but then again they may not.
Distant objects, for example, cannot but look smaller,
this cretin doesn't understand the difference between position and perspective
and yet it is the job of analysis and scrutiny to place the different positional views in their appropriate perspectives to arrive at an integrated and coherent picture.
No. Analysis and scrutiny can only detect or correct errors in a particular perspective. They can't get you out of your own 'Minkowskian light-cone'. We can have a synthetic 'structural causal model' which in turn can generate a mathematical representation of a 'fitness landscape' or 'configuration space'. Sen never understood these very basic ideas. Still, brown monkeys on the faculty are meant to amuse, not instruct.
The elementary recognition of the "positionality" of observations and perceptions does not do away with ideas of truth and falsehood, nor with the need to exercise reasoned judgment faced with conflicting evidence and clashing perspectives.
What does away with those ideas is utility. Pragmatism has triumphed. Justified True Belief pays for itself but it is intensional. It can change when circumstances change.
Sen commits the 'intensional fallacy' when he thinks the 'extension' of any predicate in epistemic- as opposed to 'buck-stopped' juristic, or 'coordination game' based economic, discourse- coincides with its intension.
I shall not here reiterate the methodological arguments I have presented elsewhere,
Which I have taken apart, sentence by sentence
but will discuss their relevance to the interpretation of Indian history.
The most important type of interpretation of Indian history is done by Indian people. If they get it wrong, they get poorer or are ethnically cleansed. Professors don't matter in the slightest though no doubt they get very worked up about who gets tenure or a paper accepted in some shitty journal.
Indeed, describing the past is like all other reflective judgments, which have to take note of the demands of veracity and the discipline of knowledge.
Utterly false. We all have to describe the past every other day of our life. 'Demands of veracity' depend on the type of authority we are answering to. We are never required to make a 'reflective judgment' save if we have been indoctrinated in relevant protocols and the thing is a contractual or otherwise justiciable obligation.
The discipline includes the study of knowledge formation,
which, sadly, is not itself knowledge. Epistemology is just stupid ad hoc shite. Only Utility matters.
including the history of science
which is wholly irrelevant, though it may be entertaining
(and the constructive influences that are important in the cultivation of science
money. That's what's constructive. No money, no fucking science cultivation.
) and also the history of histories
which is just history unless it is nonsense. Metaphysics aint the physics of physics. It is just a bunch of ad hoc assumptions which it may be useful to clarify or, at least, acknowledge. Otherwise, the thing was nonsense.
(where differences in perspective call for disciplined scrutiny and are of importance themselves as objects of study).
If stupid shitheads, like Sen, study stuff all they will do is tell stupid lies about it.
I shall be concerned with each.
I should make one more motivational remark. I address this talk primarily to non-historians, like myself, who take an interest in history.
So as to tell stupid lies.
I am aware that no self-respecting historian will peacefully listen to an economist trying to tell them what their discipline is like. But history is not just for historians. It affects the lives of the public at large. We non-historians do not have to establish our entitlement to talk about history.
Nor do lunatics.
Rather, a good point of departure is to ask: why is history so often invoked in popular discussions?
Because, sometimes the other guy can beat you up so you have to try to appear like an annoying nerd rather than somebody who might plausibly have served in the SAS.
Also, what can the general public get from history?
Inspiring stories about how life could be better if we all pulled together.
Why, we must also ask, is history such a battleground?
It isn't. Ukraine. That's a fucking battleground.
Knowledge and its use
Let me begin by discussing some distinct motivations that influence the public's interest in history.
There is only one. Stories can be very interesting. William Dalrymple has made a lot of money out of making Indian history interesting. I suppose Romila Thapar also made money but guys who set curriculums forced students to buy her boring shite.
1. Epistemic interest: The fact that we tend to have, for one reason or another, some interest in knowing more about what happened in the past
just as we have some interest in knowing about sexy vampires and totally gay teenage werewolves. History is a consumption good just like porn.
is such a simple thought that it is somewhat embarrassing to mention this at a learned gathering. But, surely, catering to our curiosity about the past must count among the reasons for trying to learn something about historical events. An ulterior motive is not essential for taking an interest in history (even though ulterior reasons may also exist often enough).
If you find a subject interesting and seek to make it interesting for others, Sen thinks you have an ulterior motive. Only if you find a subject boring and seek to make more boring for others can you be said to have pure and noble motives.
The simplicity of the idea of historical curiosity is, however, to some extent deceptive, because the reasons for our curiosity about the past can be very diverse and sometimes quite complex.
Fuck off! We are curious about interesting things. We get paid to do boring shite.
The reason can be something very practical (such as learning from a past mistake),
which is what Tagore wanted Hindus to do. Unite against the Christians and Muslims. Don't keep making the same mistake century after century.
or engagingly illuminating (such as knowing about the lives of common people in a certain period in history),
this is economic history which is important for the same reason that the economy is important. There is utility here.
or largely recreational (such as investigating the chronology and history of India's multiplicity of calendars)
Fuck off! If you want to get chronology right, you need to do this stuff. India has a large class of hereditary astrologers. Furthermore, the astrologer might also be the patwari or kulkarni. Lawyers too need accurate dates to establish claims to realty. Some of these can go back hundreds of years.
Sen may have taken a 'recreational' interest in the subject. That's why he wrote nonsense. He had no monetary incentive to get things right.
Also, the historical questions asked need not be straightforward, and may even be highly speculative.
But if stupid people are asking the questions the outcome will always be shit.
Whether or not it is easy to satisfy our curiosity (it may not always be possible to settle a debate regarding what actually happened)
unless, as in a law-court, there is a 'buck stopped' protocol bound method to settle the matter.
, truth has an obvious enough role in exercises of this kind. In fact, curiosity is a demand for truth on a particular subject.
Right! Peeping Toms are actually demanding truth on a particular subject.
2. Practical reason:
History doesn't really affect diplomacy or the law. Economics, which is ergodic, does. Still, there are some hysteresis effects or 'Derivations & Residues' in Paretian terms. But this is Huntingdon type stuff.
Historical connections are often invoked in the context of contemporary politics and policies.
but don't matter in the slightest.
Indeed, present-day attitudes in politics and society are often strongly influenced by the reading - or misreading - of the history of past events.
No. If there is present animosity, then history is read that way. But the history doesn't greatly matter.
For example, sectarian tensions build frequently on grievances (spontaneous or cultivated) linked to past deeds (real or imagined) of one group against another. This is well illustrated, for example, by the recent massacres in Rwanda or former Yugoslavia, where history - or imagined history - were often invoked, concerning alleged past records of hostilities between Hutus and Tutsies, or between Serbs and Albanians, respectively.
This silly man thinks that Milosevic didn't fuck up Yugoslavia or that Habyarimana's plane wasn't shot down. No doubt, he thinks George W Bush invaded Iraq because he had been reading about the Sumerian Empire's mistreatment of the Leprechauns from whom he himself was descended.
Since these uses of history are aimed primarily at contemporary acts and strategies, the counteracting arguments which too invoke history, though in the opposite direction, also end up being inescapably linked to current affairs.
They are stupid shite manufactured on demand.
Given the dialectical context, we may be forced to take an interest in historical disputations on battlegrounds that have been chosen by others - not ourselves.
Or we could just get on with our jobs and leave that sort of thing to useless blathershites.
For example, in defending the role of secularism in contemporary India,
why not Pakistan?
it is not in any way essential to make any claim whatsoever about how India's Mughal rulers behaved - whether they were sectarian or assimilative, whether they were oppressive or tolerant.
Tagore's message was simple. Hindus should unite and keep Muslims and Christians and other Hindu-haters in check. You don't have to kill people in order to prevent them running amok. It is enough for the outcome to be predictable and overwhelmingly asymmetric.
Yet in the political discussions that have accompanied the activist incursions of communal politics in contemporary India (well illustrated, for example, by the rhetoric that accompanied the demolition of the Babri Masjid),
which succeeded in turning the BJP into the default national party at the Center. The vast majority of the people of India wanted a Hindu Temple on the site. The Supreme Court has enabled Modi to deliver this.
a heavily carpentered characterisation of the Mughal rule as anti-Hindu was repeatedly invoked.
Similarly, the characterization of Pakistani rule as anti-Hindu was 'heavily carpentered'. India should never have given citizenship to Hindus from East Bengal. No wonder Sen was against the C.A.A!
Since this characterisation was to a great extent spurious and based on arbitrary selection, to leave that point unaddressed would have, in the context of the ongoing debate, amounted to a negligence in practical reason, and not just an epistemic abstinence.
These guys got paid a little money to be anti-Hindu. But their stupidity helped the BJP.
Even the plausibility or otherwise of the historical argument that some of the juridical roots of Indian secularism can be traced to Mughal jurisprudence (a thesis I have tried to present in my paper, "Reach of Reason: East and West")
Which I will debunk in my next post.
, even though a matter of pure history, ends up inescapably as having some relevance for contemporary politics (even though that was not a claim I made).
Indian politicians may use fools like Sen to disguise some fraud on the tax-payer. But nothing they talk or write about has any importance for contemporary politics. On the other hand the Dow Jones crashes anytime some History Professor discovers something curious about the ancient Incas.
The enterprise of knowledge links in this case with the use of that knowledge.
mobs running amok shouting stupid slogans?
However, this does not, in any way, reduce the relevance of truth in seeking knowledge. The fact that knowledge
has its use does not, obviously, make the enterprise of acquiring knowledge
or having vivid fantasies of sex with supermodels.
in any way redundant. In fact, quite the contrary.
Amen. I survived many a lecture on stupid shite by fantasizing about... okay, okay... it wasn't sex with supermodels. Just sex. Maybe with the vacuum cleaner?
Is protocol bound and has nothing to do with historiography.
Underlying the political debates, there is often enough a deeper issue related to the way we construct and characterise our own identities,
Sen's people should have converted to Islam. They wouldn't have had to flee to West Bengal if they had changed their religious identity.
in which too historical knowledge - or alleged knowledge - can play an important part . Our sense of identity is strongly influenced by our understanding of our past.
Sen doesn't understand that his people had to run away from East Bengal because they were Hindus.
We do not, of course, have a personal past prior to our birth, but our self-perceptions are associated with the shared history of the members of a particular group to which we think we "belong" and with which we "identify".
This is oikeiosis and creates an uncorrelated asymmetry which in turn dictates a 'bourgeois strategy'- e.g. Hindus sticking up for Hindus. Still, if you get paid to shit on Hinduism, why not take the gig?- if you can't make money in any socially useful manner.
Our allegiances draw on the evocation of histories of our identity groups.
No. Our identity group tells us 'hey! If you want to continue to be part of the team, sack up and get with the program.' Obviously, if you run off with your best friend's wife to Yurop/Amrika, then shit on Hinduism by all means- unless you can make more money in high tech.
A scrutiny of this use of history cannot be independent of the philosophical question as to whether our identities are primarily matters of "discovery" (as many "communitarian" thinkers claim
but those thinkers were rejected by their communities because they were stupid blathershites
), or whether they are to a significant extent matters of selection and choice
e.g. my choice to be an transgender African-American Ninja warrior during the Edo period.
(of course, within given constraints - as indeed all choices inescapably are).
No. Choices are constrained only if scarcity obtains. It is a different matter to say choice situations are contingent. But contingency is not necessarily a constraint and vice versa. This is one reason why Sen's Social Choice theory is shit.
Arguments that rely on the assumption of the unique centrality of one's community-based identity survive by privileging
Privilege is bad! Say boo to Privilege!
- typically implicitly - that identity over other identities (which may be connected with, say, class, or gender, or language, or political commitments, or cultural influences). In consequence, they restrict the domain of one's alleged "historical roots" in a truly dramatic way.
If only Sen's people had said 'only one of our identities is Hindu. Most of the rest of them are based on our being Sumerian Ninja Warriors herding goats in Guatemala'. That would have kept them safe- right?
Thus, the increasing search for a Hindu view of Indian history
which, for Tagore, was that Muslims and Christians fucking hate Hindus and kill them or rob them when they can.
not only has problems with epistemic veracity
though it is a fact that Sen's people were smart to run the fuck away from East Pakistan
(an issue I discussed earlier), but also involves the philosophical problem of categorical oversimplification.
Philosophy's problem is that it is simple minded, not to say shitty. The fact is, there can always be 'univalent foundations' for any mathematical representation of a categorical theory.
It would, for example, have problems in coming to terms with, say, Rabindranath Tagore's description of his own background as "a confluence of three cultures, Hindu, Mohammedan and British".
But Tagore was a Hindu, not a Muslim or a Britisher. Indeed, he was the head of a Hindu sect. There is no philosophical problem here. Tagore could only fit into one category. The plain fact is, Tagore's Bengali autobiography stresses that his family were pure Vedantic Brahmins. A different branch of the family was prepared to concede that they had been temple priests of Kali. On the other hand it is true that the family was referred to as degraded 'Pir Ali' Brahmins- because some members had got to chummy with the Muslims at one time.
No less importantly,
i.e. not importantly at all
it cannot but be in some tension with the sense of pride that an Indian may choose to have, irrespective of his or her own religious background, at the historical achievements of, say, Ashoka or Akbar, or Kalidasa or Kabir, or Aryabhata or Bhaskara.
People may pay a little for stuff which fills them with pride. But they will also pay for stuff which gets them horny.
To deny the role of reasoned choice, which can draw on the knowledge of the past, can be a very serious loss indeed.
Whereas affirming the role of reasoned choice can make your dick bigger- right?
Even those who want to identify with India's historical achievements and perhaps take some pride in them (a legitimate enough concern) must also examine critically what t o take pride in,
some Indians were stupid enough to take pride in Sen's getting the Nobel. Then they discovered the fellow was a shithead.
since it is easy to be misled into a narrow alley through incitements to ignore India's capacious heterodoxy in favour of a constricted sectarian identity.
What about Pakistan's capacious heterodoxy? Afghanistan was once plenty heterodox as was Iran. Tagore's point was that Hindus needed to stop being so goddam capacious otherwise they'd just keep getting stuffed. This is the doctrine which has prevailed in India. This was far from inevitable. Indians would rather be rich and good economists could have helped bring about that outcome. Sadly, India has no good economists.
While discovery and choice compete as the basis of identity,
No they don't. They may feature in changes in identity. Thus if Sen's ancestors had converted to Islam they may now be living very prosperously in Dacca. This conversion may have involved the discovery of the marvelous spiritual and soteriological truths of the Islamic religion or else it may have been dictated by expediency. Still, sooner or later, most descendants would have been pious Muslims- unless ensnared by addiction or greed for power.
knowledge and choice are essentially complementary to each other.
No. A prisoner may have lots of knowledge but little choice while a rich, free, man may have plenty of choices but little knowledge.
Engagement with issues of identity enriches the enterprise of knowledge and extends its reach.
Sadly, 'issues of identity' turned the Humanities to shit. Sen's Social Choice theory, is a sub-humanity, but it is shit because intensional objects violate Liebniz's law of identity.
Science and Intellectual Heterodoxy
Let me now move to a more active view of the enterprise of knowledge, and turn to the history of science, which is among the historical subjects of study. As has already been argued, history is not only an enterprise of knowledge, its subject matter includes other enterprises of knowledge.
because knowledge is about things, or else is not informative at all.
The issue of heterodoxy, to which reference was made earlier, is particularly important here. Indeed, I would argue that there is a general connection between intellectual heterodoxy and the pursuit of science, and that this connection deserves more attention than it tends to get.
Sen is being very very stupid. We know that the cannibal isles have lots of intellectual heterodoxy- some cannibals think the Sun is a cat, others think it is the ghost of the ancestor we snacked on last Friday- but zero scientific research.
Heterodoxy is important for scientific advance
It is irrelevant. The Soviet Union had very little 'heterodoxy' but was kicking ass in the sciences. The Cannibal Isles, however, weren't discovering shit.
because new ideas and discoveries have to emerge initially as heterodox views, at variance with established understanding. One need reflect only on the history of the scientific contributions of, say, Galileo
who lived in a place where there was a fucking Inquisition. Meanwhile there was plenty of heterodox places which were too poor to support scientific or technological research of any type.
who had to disguise his religious views but whose discoveries were tremendously useful
whose theory was a better fit with the findings of Geology. It had become obvious that the World wasn't created 6000 years ago.
to see the role of heterodoxy in the process. The history of science is integrally linked with heterodoxy.
No. It is linked with there being a market for useful discoveries. Industrialization and Oceanic commerce and the needs of the military dictate the pace and scope of Scientific discovery. Heterodoxy doesn't matter in the least. Moreover, if you encourage high IQ kids taking STEM subjects to have multiple identities as Lesbian otters and transgender African American kangaroos in between embracing both Wicca and Shia orthodoxy- you won't get a bunch of geniuses. You'll get a bunch of kids whacked out on acid.
If this interpretation is correct,
It is obvious nonsense
then the roots of the flowering of Indian science and mathematics that occurred in and around the Gupta period
when the economy was going great guns and foreign tyrants weren't looting the country
(beginning particularly with Aryabhata and Varahamihira) can be intellectually associated with persistent expressions of heterodoxies which pre-existed these contributions
By then, Buddhism and Jainism were orthodox. What was heterodox was Christianity, and, later on, Islam.
. In fact, Sanskrit and Pali have a larger literature in defence of atheism, agnosticism and theological scepticism than exists in any other classical language.
This is false. There is zero such literature. Some theologicans had a chapter about Charvaka hedonists. But this is an orthodox position for Hindus. It is perfectly compatible with Purva Mimamsa- at least for Brahmins. If you get paid a lot of money to perform rituals, do so and take the money and life large.
The origins of mathematical and scientific developments in the Gupta period are often traced to earlier works in mathematics and science in India, and this is indeed worth investigating,
No it isn't. There was a market for math and sooner or later the supply would have been created.
despite the historical mess that has been created recently by the ill-founded championing of the so-called "Vedic mathematics" and "Vedic sciences", based on very little evidence.
Sen hates anything to do with the Vedas. Why? That was stuff Brahmins, like Tagore, were into. Sen belongs to a different caste.
What has, I would argue, more claim to attention as a precursor of scientific advances in the Gupta period is the tradition of scepticism that can be found in pre-Gupta India - going back to at least the sixth century B.C. - particularly in matters of religion and epistemic orthodoxy.
Why is the Government wasting money on Laboratories and Particle Accelerators? Just tell people to be skeptical- not about the Quran coz that could get you fatwa'd- and sit back and watch Cancer being cured and Time Travel being invented.
Indeed, the openness of approach that allowed Indian mathematicians and scientists to learn about the state of these professions in Babylon, Greece and Rome,
but this openness of approach also permitted the Indian drunkard to value 'Yavana' wine hundreds of years previously. The fact is, if there is effective demand, there will be supply- whether imported or domestic. Skepticism or heterodoxy plays no role in this.
which are plentifully cited in early Indian astronomy (particularly in the Siddhantas), can also be seen as a part of this inclination towards heterodoxy.
No it can't. Don't be silly. In India, you don't get more orthodox than Brahmin folk into the Surya Siddhantas. BTW, the Brahmins employed by Buddhists or Jains Kings or Merchants or Monasteries kept up their own ancestral rituals. You can still see this happening.
Sen is simply telling stupid lies.
Observation, Experience and Scientific Methods
None of which are necessary to tell stupid lies.
Indeed, the development of Indian sciences has clear methodological connections with the general epistemological doubts expressed by sceptical schools of thought that developed at an earlier period.
No. Skepticism only concerned 'Matam' (doctrine) not 'Vigyan' (practice). This is because for Vigyan there is a verification procedure. Matam is logico-deductive and may be meaningless.
This included the insistence on relying only on observational evidence (with scepticism of unobserved variables), for example in the Lokayata and Charvaka writings,
but also Nyaya-Vaishesika or Navya-Nyaya. It is obvious that for any empirical matter, only verification matters. Soteriology has no verification this side of the grave.
On the other hand all these so called 'skeptics' would have resort to various types of magical spells or superstitious practices just in case they worked. It would be foolish not to, if money, or sex, of your health was at stake.
not to mention Gautama Buddha's powerfully articulated agnosticism
only on 'matam' not on 'vigyan'. BTW, Lord Buddha admitted an entire class of Brahmins to the Sangha not because of their 'matam' but 'vigyan'. Indeed, there always were Jain or Buddhist preceptors who considered the Vedas compatible with their faith. Lord Buddha himself said that the Veda he rejected was a corrupted one. The true one vindicated him.
and his persistent questioning of received beliefs.
Except the untouchability of fishermen- right?
The untimely death of Professor Bimal Matilal has robbed us of the chance of benefiting from his extensive programme of systematic investigation of the history of Indian epistemology, but his already published works bring out the reach of unorthodox early writings on epistemology (by both Buddhist and Hindu writers) in the period that can be linked to the flowering of Indian science and mathematics in the Gupta era.
Sadly, Matilal was a fool though his initial education was sound enough. But then Western philosophy had turned to shit because it hadn't kept up with developments in mathematical logic.
Similarly, the expression of hereticism and heterodoxy patiently - if somewhat grudgingly - recorded even in the Ramayana (for example, in the form of Javali's advice to Rama to defy his father's odd promise)
Jabali says he is not an atheist. He had only adopted that language for a specific purpose. But, it was a proper purpose. Priests should ensure the Kingdom has an effective King or Crown Prince.
In any case, it was a fact in Law that Ram was not bound by his Father's promise. Indeed, he himself hd said he was choosing to do what his mother wanted. This is in accordance with Hindu values such that a step-mother is equal to one's biological mum and is worthy to be venerated and obeyed.
presents methodological reasons to be sceptical of the orthodox position in this field.
Not to a Hindu who has some nodding acquaintance with Hindu law- i.e. most educated Hindus of Sen's vintage. Don't forget, most of us are descended from lawyers or else have some sort of long standing legal dispute over Hindu Undivided Property.
Indeed, in A Vision of India's History, Rabindranath Tagore also notes the oddity of the central story of Rama's pious acceptance of banishment based on "the absurd reason... about the weak old king (Rama's father) yielding to a favourite wife, who took advantage of a vague promise which could fit itself to any demand of hers, however preposterous." Tagore takes it as evidence of "the later degeneracy of mind," when "some casual words uttered in a moment of infatuation could be deemed more sacred than the truth which is based upon justice and perfect knowledge."
Tagore was saying that his own family were a very superior type of Brahmin and that their customs and usages had been purer. Sadly, other Brahmins considered him to have more beard than brain. Basically, the guy was a College dropout who looked after Daddy's estates before having to take over from him as the head of a particularly silly sect.
In fact, Javali's disputation goes deeply into scientific methodology and the process of acquiring of knowledge:
Jabali. Bengalis often say 'b' for 'v'. But Sen is 'over-correcting'. Yet the fellow claims to know Sanskrit!
There is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that. Follow what is within your experience and do not trouble yourself with what lies beyond the province of human experience.
Jabali immediately clarifies that this is not the truth. Indeed, it would be easy to controvert his argument- which, to be frank, is no argument at all. Ayodhya was a Hindu kingdom. Ram's legitimacy would have been questioned if he'd gone around prating like a hedonist.
As it happens, the insistence that we rely only on observation and experience is indeed a central issue in the departures in astronomy - initiated by Aryabhata and others - from established theological cosmology.
There was no such inheritance. Astronomy is a 'Vedanga' and part of 'Vigyan' not 'Matam'.
The departures presented in his book Aryabhatiya, completed in 421 Saka or 499 A.D., which came to be discussed extensively by mathematicians and astronomers who followed Aryabhata (particularly Varahamihira, Brahma-gupta and Bhaskara, and were also discussed in their Arabic translations), included, among others: (1) Aryabhata's advocacy of the diurnal motion of the earth
(rather than the apparent rotation of the sun around it),
that's false. Aryabhata's system is geocentric
(2) a corresponding theory of gravity to explain why objects are not thrown out as the earth churns,
That was Brahmagupta who lived a little later.
(3) recognition of the parametric variability of the concept of "up" and "down" depending on where one is located on the globe,
Again, this is not explicit in Aryabhatta
and (4) explanation of lunar and solar eclipses in terms respectively of the earth's s shadow on the moon and the moon's obscuring of the sun.
which is why the model is geocentric.
Observational arguments, based on what Javali calls "the province of human experience",
are Vedanga and part of vigyan not matam. But this is commonsense, which ancient people had plenty of.
are central to the departures initiated by Aryabhata in these and related fields (more on this presently). In the enterprise of knowledge involving the natural sciences, the intellectual connections between scepticism, heterodoxy and observational insistence, on the one hand, and manifest scientific advances, on the other, require much further exploration and scrutiny than they seem to have received so far.
Smart people had done that scrutiny long ago. Sen was babbling nonsense. The fact is astrology was observational and empirical. You actually needed to predict eclipses. The traditional jyotish eagerly embraced new methods though, in drawing up horoscopes, this was generally not the case.
I suppose Sen is trying to make out that there was some sort of Hindu Inquisition similar to that which menaced Galileo. But he is lying.
History of Histories and Observational Perspectives
The observational issue is important also for the particular subject of history of histories, or metahistories (as we may call them).
Any cretin can produce a meta-history. That is our observation. A good meta-analysis, however, is a different story.
Given the importance of perspectives in historical writings, history of histories can tell us a great deal not only about the subject of those writings, but also about their authors and the traditions and perspectives they reflect.
No. They can merely flog a dead horse
For example, James Mill's The History of British India, published in 1817,
which got the poor scribbler a safe job with John Company.
tells us probably as much about imperial Britain as about India.
No. James Mill wrote a lot about contemporary Britain. His India book tells us a bit about how his contemporaries remembered the events and personalities of previous generations.
This three-volume history, written by Mill without visiting India (Mill seemed to think that this non-visit made his history more objective)
no he didn't. Don't be silly. The archives of British India were to be found in Britain. Anyway, the guy was little more than a talented Grub Street hack.
, played a major role in introducing the British governors of India (such as the influential Macaulay) to a particular characterisation of the country.
But Macaulay was not a governor. He got a grace and favor appointment in India to repair his finances. He used his time there to write 'Lays of Ancient Rome'.
There is indeed much to learn from Mill's history - not just about India, but more, in fact, about the perspective from which this history was written.
But that perspective was obvious to all whether or not they read the thing! This is like saying 'we can learn much from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf' not just about his attitude to Jews but also the fact that he may have thought of himself as German rather than Guatemalan'.
This is an illustration of the general point that
guys who get paid to supervise worthless PhD theses become stupider than shit.
the presence of positionality and observational perspective need not weaken the enterprise of knowledge, and may in fact help to extend its reach.
Very true. Thus a book by Bernie Madoff titled 'Give me all your money and I'll make you very rich because I honestly am not running a Ponzi scheme', may, on the basis of positionality and observational perspective, be an effective suppository for Manmohan Singh. That will teach the cunt to try to boost economic growth in India.
James Mill disputed and rejected practically every claim ever made on behalf of Indian culture and intellectual traditions, but paid particular attention to dismissing Indian scientific works. Mill rebuked early British administrators (particularly, Sir William Jones) for having taken the natives "to be a people of high civilization, while they have in reality made but a few of the earliest steps in the progress to civilization."
Mill was right. Indian decline would continue. After the death of Ranjit Singh, India was wholly abject. Raja Ramohan Roy and Dwarkanath Tagore were begging Britain to send more Europeans to India and extend their rule. Why? The alternative was Muslim domination of Bengal.
Indeed, since colonialism need not be especially biased against any particular colony compared with any other subjugated community, Mill had no great difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the Indian civilisation was at par with other inferior ones known to Mill: "very nearly the same with that of the Chinese , the Persians, and the Arabians", and also the other "subordinate nations, the Japanese, Cochin-chinese, Siamese, Burmans, and even Malays and Tibetans" (p. 248).
The Napoleonic Wars showed that civilization meant being able to kill the invader and take the war to his country. Suddenly, the Russians and Prussians were civilized while Britain could safely sneer at the French whom, they hoped, would decline as Spain and Portugal and Holland had done.
Mill was particularly dismissive of the alleged scientific and mathematical works in India.
There was some talk about the Kerala school of mathematics around that time. Still, Mill was on the right track. Indian math was inferior.
He denied the generally accepted belief that the decimal system (with place values and the placed use of zero) had emerged in India, and refused to accept that Aryabhata and his followers could have had anything interesting to say on the diurnal motion of the earth and the principles of gravitation.
Aryabhata invented zero. But Mill agreed that Indians invented zero.
Writing his own history of histories,
he wrote a history after consulting other books including history books. But he also did some original research in the archives. That's how all history books are written.
Mill chastised Sir William Jones for believing in these "stories", and concluded that it was "extremely natural that Sir William Jones, whose pundits had become acquainted with the ideas of European philosophers respecting the system of the universe, should hear from them that those ideas were contained in their own books."
If Voltaire was taken in by a Jesuit 'Purana', why not Jones? Sadly, Scottish Common Sense- or Occam's razor- was defeated by German academic industry. England would become as reliant upon Teutonic pedants and ideologues as it had previously been on ambitious Scottish savants.
Contrast of Perspectives
It is, in fact, interesting to compare Mill's History with another history of India, called Ta'rikh al-hind (written in Arabic eight hundred years earlier, in the 11th century) by the Iranian mathematician Alberuni.
Nonsense! Alberuni was a great scholar. Mill was a jobbing journalist who got a clerkship. Nobody in England gives a toss about him.
Alberuni, w ho was born in Central Asia in A.D. 973, and mastered Sanskrit after coming to India, studied Indian texts on mathematics, natural sciences, literature, philosophy, and religion. Alberuni writes clearly on the invention of the decimal system in India (as do other Arab authors) and also about Aryabhata's theories on earth's rotation, gravitation, and related subjects. These writings contrast sharply with Mill's history from a dominant colonial perspective,
Sen doesn't get that Mahmud of Ghazni was quite good at colonizing. The problem with Alberuni's account is that it may have been compiled from other texts not to mention accounts given by slaves.
But there is no 'sharp contrast' here. The fact is that India was, comparatively speaking, less backward with respect to Iranian people back then then it would be to an England that had emerged triumphant from the Napoleonic Wars.
Economic advancement is connected with getting into maritime trade. If you can do oceanic trade, you are likely to rise. The 'gravity model' is turned on its head. High value adding industries spring up next to your ports. Places like Bengal and Tamil Nadu declined as they turned their backs on the sea. The Greeks had been great mariners- which is one reason they went in for math and astronomy and so forth. Hindu India, too, had been venturesome the seas at least to its East.
well established by the beginning of the 19th century.
As opposed to the dominant Islamic perspective on kaffirs- right?
The interest in Mill's dismissive history in imperial Britain (Macaulay described Mill's History of British India to be "on the whole the greatest historical work which has appeared in our language since that of Gibbon"
coz Mill worked for the Company which had paid Macaulay's salary in India.
) contrasts with extensive constructive interest in these Indian works among Islamic mathematicians and scientists in Iran and in the Arab world.
Mill wasn't a mathematician or a scientist. He wrote a book on 'spec' and then got a job with the Company which it flattered.
In fact, Brahmagupta's pioneering Sanskrit treatise on astronomy had been first translated into Arabic in the 8th century by Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Fazari,
this was at a time when plenty of Greek and other scholarly work was being translated
and again by Alberuni three hundred years later in the 11th century (since Alberuni had certain criticisms of the previous translation). Several Indian works on medicine, science and philosophy had Arabic rendering by the 9th century, and so on. It was through the Arabs that the Indian decimal system and numerals reached Europe, as did Indian writings in mathematics, science and literature, in general.
This is the sort of stuff nationalist historians drone on about. But they do so because they want Indians to rise up economically so as to once again have flourishing arts and sciences. But this does involve not getting conquered as well as telling Commie nutters to go fuck themselves.
Indeed, history of histories, particularly about science, can tell us a great deal about the nature of political and social relations between the different countries (such as Iran and Gupta India, on the one hand, Britain and colonial India, on the other ).
No. The fact that Britain was ruling big parts of Australia tells us about the relation between the English and the aborigines even if there were no 'history of histories' about Aborigine mathematics. Gupta India's relationship was with pre-Islamic Iran in which there were some Indian origin as well as Iranian Buddhist scholarly lineages. The Barmakids are an example of the latter. They contributed to the booming translation industry in Abbasid Baghdad.
As it happens, Alberuni's history also provides interesting illumination on scientific discussions within India, and particularly on the constructive role of heterodoxy in this context.
No. There is no such 'illumination'. Anyway- all kaffirs are heterodox.
Even though Alberuni himself tended to reject Aryabhata's theory regarding the diurnal motion of the earth,
he said it didn't matter when it came to making calculations.
he describes patiently the Indian arguments in defence of the plausibility of Aryabhata's theory, including the related theory of gravity.
This is one reason Alberuni is thought to have relied on others rather than being an original author.
Conservatism, Courage and Science
It is, in this context, particularly interesting to examine Alberuni's discussion of Brahmagupta's conservative rejection of the exciting departures proposed by Aryabhata and his followers on the subject of lunar and solar eclipses.
In which case there was no 'heterodoxy' during the supposed golden age of Indian astronomyy
Alberuni quotes Brahmagupta's criticism of Aryabhata and his followers, in defence of the orthodox religious theory, involving Rahu and the so-called "head" that is supposed to devour the sun and the moon, and finds it clearly unpersuasive and reactionary. He quotes Brahmagupta's supplication to religious orthodoxy, in Brahmasiddhanta:
Some people think that the eclipse is not caused by the Head. This, however, is a foolish idea, for it is he in fact who eclipses, and the generality of the inhabitants of the world say that it is the Head that eclipses. The Veda, which is the word of God from the mouth of Brahman, says that the Head eclipses... On the contrary. Varahamihira, Shrishena, Aryabhata and Vishnuchandra maintain that the eclipse is not caused by the Head, but by the moon and the shadow of the earth, in direct opposition to al l (to the generality of men), and from the enmity against the just-mentioned dogma.
The commentator's comment is that this was said to counter 'common-sense' criticism. All these guys cared about was getting the math right so as to make better predictions. They didn't want some stupid Prince or Chancellor to cancel their grant on some excuse.
Alberuni, who is quite excited about Aryabhata's scientific theories of eclipses, then accuses Brahmagupta (a great mathematician himself) for lacking the moral courage of Aryabhata in dissenting from the established orthodoxy.
Again, this makes us suspicious that Alberuni was simply getting slaves to translate captured manuscripts.
He points out that, in practice, Brahmagupta too follows Aryabhata's methods in predicting the eclipses, but this does not prevent Brahmagupta from sharply criticising - from an essentially theological perspective - Aryabhata and his followers for being heretical and heterodox. Alberuni puts it thus:
...we shall not argue with him [Brahmagupta], but only whisper into his ear:... Why do you, after having spoken such [harsh] words [against Aryabhata and his followers], then begin to calculate the diameter of the moon in order to explain the eclipsing o f the sun, and the diameter of the shadow of the earth in order to explain its eclipsing the moon? Why do you compute both eclipses in agreement with the theory of those heretics, and not according to the views of those with whom you think it is proper to agree?
This is pretty much what a lot of commentators like Prthuduka were saying at that around that time. The big take-away here is, if you are doing useful stuff and want your grant renewed get the 'Purohits'- i.e. guardians of orthodoxy- on side otherwise some stupid bead-counter might start asking you foolish questions about what you are up to. Baffle bureaucrats with bullshit of a type which they recognize as bizarre but, as involving the strategic use of shibboleths or 'political correctness'.
The connection between heterodoxy and scientific advance is indeed close,
which is how come Wiccan LGBTQ collectives run CERN.
and big departures in science require methodological independence as well as analytical and constructive skill.
Fuck off! CERN's new super-collider costs 27 billion dollars.
Even though Aryabhata, Varahamihira and Brahmagupta were all dead f r many hundred years before Alberuni was writing on their controversies and their implications, nevertheless
some Indian scholarly lineages preserved their works in the same way that other lineages preserved the Vedas.
Alberuni's carefully critical scientific history
based on some slaves translation of stuff preserved by Indian lineages
helps to bring out the main issues involved, and in particular the need for heterodoxy as well as moral courage in pursuit of science.
Alberuni's Indology was based on Mahmud of Ghazni's ability to loot and enslave Indians. The Sultan persecuted Islamic heterodoxy with as much zeal as he killed kaffirs.
To conclude, I have tried to illustrate the different ways in which history has relevance for non-historians - indeed the general public.
Sen has told stupid lies. It is obvious that a country where everybody is 'heterodox' and skeptical about every type of authority will be shit at Science unless it is very rich and can import that product. By contrast, a country which was and is unified enough to start winning wars will have a domestic scientific establishment because the thing more than pays for itself more particularly through wars of conquest and proselytization.
First, there are diverse grounds for the public's involvement with history, which include (1) the apparently simple attractions of epistemic interest,
which can also motivate the watching of Pornvideos.
(2) the contentious correlates of practical reason,
shitty propaganda of the type Sen indulges in.
and (3) the scrutiny of identity-based thinking.
This is a very important point. How do you know you are a boy or a girl? You could check your genitals but history shows that most people switch gender every few seconds.
All of them - directly or indirectly - involve and draw on the enterprise of knowledge.
None do. This is stupid shit.
Second, history is not only itself an enterprise of knowledge, its domain of study incorporates all other enterprises of knowledge, including the history of science.
Fuck off. History is what stupid kids study coz they are shit at Math.
In this context, it is easy to see the role of heterodoxy and methodological independence in scientific advance.
That role is zero. Science costs loads of money. Indeed, Arts degrees subsidize STEM subject labs. The good thing about doing a degree in History is you can do a part-time job while also pursuing very heterodox sexual life-styles- till Mummy finds out and slaps you silly.
The intellectual connections between heterodoxy (especially theological scepticism) and scientific pursuits (especially big scientific departures) deserve more attention in the history of sciences in India.
No it doesn't. Nutters organizing beef eating parties at JNU aren't doing cutting edge research in STEM subjects. Rohit Vemula was doing 'Sociology of Science'- not actual Science. Then he didn't get his stipend and hanged himself in protest.
Third, metahistories - or histories of histories - also bring out the relevance of an appropriate climate for the enterprise of knowledge.
No they don't. Money is what matters for any enterprise which doesn't involve creating a nuisance by running around like a headless chicken.
The pursuit of knowledge not only requires an open mind
& open legs or a lubed up asshole coz that's totes heterodox right?
(the contrast between Alberuni's scientific interest and Mill's colonial predispositions radically differentiate their treatments of the same subject matter),
Sen is not comparing like with like. The fact is some Brits were writing about the Kerala school of math about that time. That's why, Boole & De Morgan were interested in the subject. De Morgan wrote about Master Ramachandra's original mathematical work. But, the fact is, Europe had overtaken the Orient in the seventeenth century in almost all STEM subjects. This was not because of heterodoxy. It was because STEM subjects enable you to make more money and win wars.
it also requires an inclination to accept heterodoxy and the courage to stand up against orthodoxy (Alberuni's critique of Brahmagupta's criticism of Arya bhata relates to this issue).
Hilarious! Alberuni's head would have been chopped up if he had rejected Sunni orthodoxy. Some scientists ran away from Hitler and Stalin. But the ones that remained were capable of good science even if they were scared shitless to stand up against the regime. But Scientific research costs money.
The plurality of perspectives extends the domain of the enterprise of knowledge rather than undermining the possibility of that enterprise.
Nope. All that matters is money and the ability to bring in smart peeps.
Since the rewriting of Indian history from the slanted perspective of sectarian orthodoxy
or Sen-tentious anti-Hindu virtue signaling shite
not only undermines historical objectivity,
This guy hates Brahmins because he isn't a Brahmin. That's cool. Brahmins did a shitty job at getting Hindus to unite and fight off invaders. But Sen-tentious cretins are just as bad. The fellow is content that his peeps had to run away from East Bengal. Not till West Bengal too is lost will he be happy. Thanks to Mamta, he may live to gain his wish.
but also militates against the spirit of scientific scepticism and intellectual heterodoxy, it is important to emphasise the centrality of scepticism and heterodoxy in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
Why? China has risen very rapidly in this matter over the last twenty years. They kill those skeptical of Chairman Xi and 're-educate' Muslims and so forth on an industrial scale.
Why has China soared so far ahead? Money. They are investing in STEM stuff because they have money and they want more money and more power.
The incursion of sectarian orthodoxy in Indian history involves two distinct problems, to wit, (1) narrow sectarianism,
nothing could be narrower than Sen's bigotry
and (2) unreasoned orthodoxy.
as opposed to Sen's incapacity to write a single sentence free of either logical fallacies or glaring errors of fact.
The enterprise of konowledge is threatened by both.
No. The enterprise of pornography is threatened by Sectarians who want to stop people looking at naughty pictures. However, even the craziest religious nutcase won't molest Scientists and Mathematicians who, they are told, are doing work vital for the economy and national defense. This is because killing religious nutcases prevents them fucking up the country. There is no need to kill Sen-tentious shitheads. Defund them and make fun of their puny genitals- unless their genitals aint puny in which case allocative efficiency requires their switching from being useless Professors to doing Porn, This is because wankers will pay good money for the latter whereas mental masturbation is a drug on the market.
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