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This article forms part III of a running commentary on Ambedkar’s posthumously published “Philosophy of History” (Ambedkar, 2014a). We attempt to follow Ambedkar’s reflections on the early origins of religion and his initial distinctions of the religions of “savage society” and “civilized society” (Ambedkar, 2014a, p. 9). Using the tools of philosophical critique, we see his attempt to dissect the real “principal” (Ambedkar, 2014a, p. 10) of religion beyond the apparitional nature of rites, rituals, and taboos. This leads to a series of deductions of what constitutes the very “core,” “source,” and “substance” of religion rooted in the “preservation of life” (Ambedkar, 2014a, p. 10). However, this is also a moment that will foreshadow Ambedkar’s ultimate judgement of Hinduism’s status as a religion when founded on the unequal social structure of caste. We argue the following in this article: what Ambedkar says about the architectonic of “savage society” and the failure to undergo a profound revolution in the nature and concept of religion bears an eerie resemblance to what ultimately takes the place of “savage society” (Ambedkar, 2014a, p. 9) over time, namely the Hindu caste system. This makes modern Hinduism a strange hybrid of pre-history and a future history whose conclusion is uncertain. Whether caste can disappear from society is the burning question. And this is intertwined with profound metaphysical questions of time, life, birth, and death, which only philosophy can deconstruct if a religion, like Hinduism, were submitted for critical judgement. The article concludes with an attempt to set the stage for the next phase of the commentary: there Ambedkar will transition from a general discussion about the philosophy and history of religion as a concept to an actual engagement with the philosophical contents of the religion known and practiced by hundreds of millions of adherents as Hinduism. As we already know, his conclusion is dire: a religion can only be true if it is rooted in ‘justice’ and serves the ‘utility’ of individual freedom (Ambedkar, 2014a, p. 22).
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