Decolonisation and the Entangled Histories of Science and Philosophy in India*

By Raina, Dhruv | Polish Sociological Review, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Decolonisation and the Entangled Histories of Science and Philosophy in India*


Raina, Dhruv, Polish Sociological Review


Abstract: One of the central challenges confronting post-colonial India in its march towards decolonisation was the intellectual challenge posed by the idea of modernity. This is reflected in the work of historians of science and philosophers attempting to understand what the past of 'Indian science' or 'Indian philosophy' meant in relation to the identity of the modern Indian nation state in the making. This essay argues that in this interrogation there were common themes that were entangled in the enterprise of historians of science and philosophers. Beyond the question of the identity of Indian philosophy or Indian science was the attempt to locate the place of reason and science, and in the spirit of modernisation theory to trace the causes of their ascent or decline at the centre of Indian culture over historical time. The paper examines the entanglement of these two discourses and situates them during the decades of decolonisation.

Keywords: comparative method, Indian philosophy, institutionalisation of science, modern India, philosophical reasoning.

This paper seeks to investigate the nature of entanglement between the academic concerns of historians of science and the discipline of Indian philosophy since the commencement of the decade of decolonisation. The exploration is prefaced by a lengthy discussion about the modern scientific community in India. The problem to be discussed is the encounter, and possibly its nature, between the modernity of science and the engagement with philosophical reasoning in the 'Indian' traditions. The sociologist Niklas Luhmann perceptively pointed out that science unfurled as a frame of thinking and acting that had never to establish its modernity, unlike other fields of human culture and experience or more so even 'modern society' (Luhmann 2002: 61). But stretching the Luhmannian point a little further it could be argued that the disciplinary differentiation and speciation that characterizes the changing frontiers of knowledge in the West, has cast a cordon sanitaire that demarcates the discussion between the philosophical conceptions of knowledge and that of science (Rosenberg 1998).

Consequently, one of the outcomes of this rear guard action of philosophy that is traced back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is the institutionalisation of a discipline referred to as the philosophy of science as the final realization of the Cartesian project. Thus while philosophy of science is enveloped within the disciplinary folds of philosophy, it distinguished itself from other sub-disciplines of philosophy inasmuch as it approached its subject-matter or object domain in terms of a dichotomous separation of fact and value, and the other Cartesian dichotomies. However, since the 1970s the emergence of the sociology of knowledge has since made deep inroads in contesting this dichotomy, but the heated battle continues, as attempts are made towards reconciliation between what appear just now as irreconcilable positions (Ziman 2000; Longino 2002).

The institutionalisation of science in modern India in the twentieth century is apparently marked by a paucity of philosophical reflection on the nature of the foundations of science within the scientific community, some notable exceptions within the scientific community not withstanding. 1 This is not an accusation nor does it suggest that there is no awareness of the philosophical foundations of the science being practised (Raina 2003). By and large within the Indian scientific community, over the last century or so, the conception of science as a cultural universal has prevailed, that in the first two decades of the twentieth century found expression in a triumphalist scientism. In fact, it is rather surprising that leading physicists like Meghnad N. Saha and Satyendra N. Bose who were closely networked with the quantum theory/quantum mechanics generation of scientists-philosophers, moulded in the German ideal of the kulturträger, did not participate or take an explicit view on the foundations of quantum mechanics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Decolonisation and the Entangled Histories of Science and Philosophy in India*
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.