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On Seeing the Generative Possibilities of Dalit neo‐Buddhist Thought

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Abstract:

Nanda's irresponsible book carelessly prescribes for the U.S a return to Cold‐War science politics; and for India, nothing less than a cultural revolution which would install science as the arbiter. She sees this as smashing the backwards looking metaphysics of Hindu thought. I argue that her iconoclasm carries with it a purist fetishism deriving from science's denied metaphysics. The metaphysics embedded in Nanda's secularist critique is no more innocent than that she wishes to smash, yet being denied is more tricky to deal with. I claim Nanda's book is irresponsible both in the context of India's contesting social imaginaries, but also in the USA where she seeks to intervene in the so‐called science wars. Taking seriously the neo‐Buddhist Dalit resistance waged by those occupying the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system, as Nanda prescribes, requires a refusal of metaphysics and positivist thought generally. Being unaware of the metaphysical ladeness of her critique, the ontological move that is necessary to achieve a shift to generative mode of thought that characterises Dalit Buddhism is invisible to Nanda.

Keywords: Hindu fundamentalism; Iconoclasm; Metaphysics; Neo‐Buddhist; Ontology; Science Wars; Secular

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02691720500084259

Affiliations: History and Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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