A Commentary on Ambedkar's Posthumously Published "Philosophy of Hinduism" - Part II

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Rajesh Sampath

Abstract

This paper continues the commentary on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s posthumously published Philosophy of Hinduism. Utilizing resources from various modern continental European philosophers and social theorists, particularly of religion, we elaborate on several key passages within Ambedkar’s overall framework of analysis. The paper continues to explore how Ambedkar conceives relations between philosophy and religion, and how historical shifts in general human consciousness have occurred whereby altering both fields. At the core of his being, Ambedkar is concerned with a methodological justification that will enable him to venture into a penetrating critique of the immoral and amoral nature of Hinduism’s social system of caste. In Part I of the commentary, we followed Ambedkar until he arrived at the criteria of ‘justice’ and ‘utility’ to judge the status of Hinduism. He wanted to test whether this Eastern world religion, which descends from antiquity, meets those criteria, which shape the modern conception of religion. In Part II of this commentary, we expand further on Ambedkar’s thesis as to why Hinduism fails to meet the modern conception when those twin criteria are not met. This thought presupposes various underlying philosophical transformations of the relations of ‘God to man’, ‘Society to man’, and ‘man to man’ within which the Hindu-dominated Indian society forecloses the possibility of individual equality, freedom, and dignity. In making contributions to Ambedkar studies, the philosophy of religion, and political philosophies of justice, this paper sets up Part III of the commentary, which will examine Ambedkar’s actual engagement with the classics of Hinduism’s philosophy and thought in general. Ultimately, Ambedkar is undeterred in his original critique of the social and moral failures of the caste system, thereby intimating ambitious possibilities for its eventual eradication.

Article Details

How to Cite
Sampath, R. (2021). A Commentary on Ambedkar’s Posthumously Published "Philosophy of Hinduism" - Part II. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 2(1), 01-16. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v2i1.300
Section
Research Articles
Author Biography

Rajesh Sampath, Brandeis University

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.