Monday, August 01, 2005

Ancient Argument and Modern Democracy

Expressindia report on Amartya Sen's talk in Calcutta at the launch of The Argumentative Indian:

    Refuting the notion that argumentative discourse was the sole prerogative of the elite, Sen argued: “The critical voice has been an old ally of the aggrieved. It does not take any specialised skills to speak out or argue for something. The argumentative tradition can be a strong friend of the underdog.” Sen also opposed the integrationist approach of secular modernists who shy away from any discussion on the impact of ancient religious texts on common Indians.

    “Secularists are correct in criticising the use of these texts as supernatural texts by the Hindutva lobby,” Sen said. However, according to Sen — and as Tagore had pointed out — these epics are marvellous parables that are open to interpretation in a variety of ways that promote heterodoxy.

Here's perhaps an instance where a secular modernist doesn't shy away from the kind of discussions Sen is talking about.


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