A Commentary on Ambedkar’s Posthumously Published “Philosophy of Hinduism”

Main Article Content

Rajesh Sampath

Abstract

This paper offers a critical commentary of Ambedkar's posthumously published "The Philosophy of Hinduism," which was discovered shortly after his death.  Given previous, considerable contributions in the fields of law, economics, political and social theory, the work appears to be the beginnings of what remains an incomplete treatise on a new area of investigation for Ambedkar.  In this work, Ambedkar tackles the murky and opaque sub-field of philosophy, namely the philosophy of religion.  This paper unpacks some of Ambedkar's key insights on the nature of the philosophy of religion to test what elements - considered from a philosophical point view - constitute a religion.  Furthermore, given the historical paradigmatic shifts in the nature of religion from antiquity to modernity, Ambedkar identifies two conceptual revolutions from which he will introduce two criteria - utility and justice - to evaluate the nature of Hinduism as a religion.  Given his life-long quest to understand Hinduism and caste, ultimately, Ambedkar's goal to overcome what he says is the systemic and structural inequality of caste in the Indian social order leads him to certain negative conclusions: namely whether Hinduism can be characterized as a religion if in fact modern religions must have a foundation in some intrinsic dimension of social justice.  This paper constitutes Part I of a longer commentary.  The aspiration is that a longer Part II will ultimately extend Ambedkar's philosophical investigation into new domains for which he did not have the opportunity to explore.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sampath, R. (2020). A Commentary on Ambedkar’s Posthumously Published “Philosophy of Hinduism”. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(1), 17-28. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i1.141
Section
Research Articles
Author Biography

Rajesh Sampath

Expertise

General topics in applied moral and political philosophy; philosophy of development; comparative religions; theories of justice; development ethics; philosophy of law, comparative constitutional law, critical race theory, gender and sexuality studies, theories of human rights and theories of democracy

Profile

Raj completed his PhD at the University of California, Irvine in the humanities with a concentration in modern continental European philosophy and critical theory at the Critical Theory Institute. He studied under the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, the founder of deconstruction. His areas of specialization centered on the philosophy of history, historical time and epochal shifts. Subsequently, he did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley and a D.A.A.D. research scientist fellowship in Germany where he published articles in continental European philosophy. From 2006-2009, he was an adjunct lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and continued to serve on the Provost Council for College Eight at the University until June 2012.

His current research interests and disciplinary expertise include: twentieth century Anglo-American and European moral and political philosophy, philosophical theories of modernization and social-historical change, comparative constitutional law and legal philosophy, epistemology and the sociology of knowledge in comparative religious studies, and comparisons of Western philosophy and traditional African, Indian, and Chinese philosophy. Teaching interests include Critical Race Theory/Intersectionality, Global Queer and Gender studies, Anglo-American, European and Global South traditions of philosophical ethics, human rights, and theories of justice when applied to sustainable development issues.