Anth142summary1 - Inden Reading Summary Orientalist...

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Inden Reading Summary Orientalist Constructions of India OPENING DISCUSSION It is the interest of Spirit that external conditions should become internal ones The Idealism of Existence in India = an Idealism of imagination, without distinct conceptions Absolute Being is presented here as in the ecstatic state of a dreaming condition Aim of essay = to establish a space for the production of a new knowledge of South Asia “Orientalist discourse” – Hindu states and rituals in ‘early medieval’ India; Hinduism and kingship “Episteme” = a way of knowing that implies a particular view of existence The episteme the author criticizes presupposes a representational view of knowledge. It assumes that true knowledge merely represents or mirrors a separate reality which the knower somehow transcends; knowledge is natural and objective and not a matter for political debate; produces a hierarchic relationship between knower and known, privileging the knowledge of the scientists and other experts and leaders who make up the former while subjugating the knowledges of the people who comprise the latter It is the author’s assumption that reality transcends the knower. The knowledge of the knower is not a ‘natural’ representation of an external reality. It is an artificial construct but one which actively participates (especially when it comes to social knowledge) in producing and transforming the world CRITICIZED: 2 assumptions built into the ‘epitome’ of Indology are that the real world consists of essences and that the world is unitary. In addition, another assumption is that there exists a ‘human nature’ which itself consists of a unity essence. It is also supposed that, at a lower level, each culture of civilization embodies a similarly unity essence. AUTHOR ARGUES: Indological discourse holds that the essence of Indian civilization is just the opposite of the West’s. It is the irrational (but rationalizable) institution of ‘caste’ and the Indological religion that accompanies it, Hinduism. Human agency in India is a substantialized Caste. RESULTS OF ASSUMPTION: dismissal of Indian political institutions and especially of kingship AUTHOR ARGUES: Indian thought is inherently symbolic and mythical rather than rational and logical; idealistic Caste has been both the cause and effect of India’s low level of political and economic ‘development’ Mixture of societalism, in which Indian actions are attributed to social groups, and individualism, in which Indians’ acts are attributed to bad motives NEED RESEARCHERS: to work free of the incoherent combination of societalism and individualism that prevails in the study of South Asia. Also, the abandonment of the substantialism and essentialism that have permitted the discipline of Indology and its affiliates in the social sciences to evade the issue of human agency 3 aspects of Indological accounts: ‘descriptive’, the ‘commentative’, and the ‘explanatory’ 1
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Taber during the Spring '06 term at UCSB.

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Anth142summary1 - Inden Reading Summary Orientalist...

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