REASON AND IDENTITY

Amartya sen, renowned Indian economist, nobel
laureate(1998) contributed in welfare economics
and social choice theory. India has a long and
multifaceted history of argumentation and public
reasoning. In his magnificent book The
Argumentative Indian: writing in Indian culture,
history and identity. Amartya sen provides this
history with a global context. Public reasoning is
fundamental to both democratic politics and
secular constitutional arrangements, and it is no
accident that India, with its extensive traditions of
tolerance and the admission of dissenting voices
in public discourse.
The chapter named ‘ Reach of Reason’ in which
Amartya sen analyze WB Yeat’s ‘The Geneology
of Morals’, Jonathan Glover’s views, Nietzsche’s
scepticism the writer reached reason and
enlightenment process. He advocates the
possibility of reasoning is a strong source of
discipline confidence in a world darkened by
horrible deeds. We can reason about the right way
of perceiving and treating other people, other
cultures, other claims, and different grounds for

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respect and tolerance. We can also reason about
our own mistakes and try to learn not to repeat
them. For example, the Japanese Novelist and
visionary social theorist Kenzaburo Oe argues
powerfully that the Japanese nation, aided by an
understanding of its own ‘history of territorial
invasion.’
Intellectual enquiry, is needed to identity actions
and policies that are not evidently injurious but
which have that effect for example, famines can
remain unchecked on the mistaken presumption
that they cannot be averted through immediate
public policy. According to Sen, two pillars of
Enlightenment thinking are sometimes wrongly
merged and jointly criticized: the power of
reasoning, and the perfectability of human nature.
In his view, values such as tolerance, liberty and
reciprocal respect have been described as ‘ culture
specific’ and basically confined to western
civilization. He called this is the claim of ‘ cultural
boundary’.
Sen refers to that what Clifford Geertz has called
‘ culture war’, the subject of ‘the reach of reason’
related to another theme, which had been
important in the anthropological literature. He
sures that the other Indian classical authors who

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emphasized discipline and order rather than
tolerance and liberty, for example Kautilya in the
fourth century BCE( in his book Arthsastra
translatable as ‘ Economics’. But western classical
writers such as plato and st Augustine also gave
priority to social discipline. He adds that the such
classifications based on the substance of ideas,
different from theises based on culture or region.
One consequence of western dominance of the
world today is that other cultures and traditions are
often identified and defined by their contrasts with
contemporary western cultures or example, Indian
religious literature such as Bhagavad Gita or the
Tantric texts, which are identified as differing from
secular writings seen as ‘western’,elicits much
greater interest in the West than do other Indian
writing, including India’s long history of heterodoxy.
He supposes that the Kamasutra, in which western
readers have managed to cultivate an interest.
When it is thus ‘defined by contrast, divergence
with the West becomes central. Take, for example,
the case of ‘Asian values’, often contrasted with
‘western values’.
Sen is showing how other parts of the world
differ from the West can be very effective and can
shore up artificial distinction. We may be left

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wondering why Gautama Buddha, or Laozi or
Ashokan or Gandhi or sun Yat-sen was not really
an Asian. And we have a question of why did
Maimonides,in fact, get support as well as an
honoured position at the court of the Muslim
emperor who fought valiantly for Islam in the
crusades. Sen cites about the Emperor Akbar, that
‘the tradition of secularism can be traced to the
trend of tolerant and pluralist thinking that had
begun to take root well before Akbar. For example,
in the writings of Amir Khusrau in the fourteenth
century as well as in the ang non-sectarian
devotional poetry of Jabir, Nanak, Chaitanya and
others. He also practised as he preached –
abolishing discriminatory taxes imposed earlier
Muslims, inviting many Hindu intellectuals and
artists into his court, and even trusting a Hindu
general, man singh, to command his armed force.
Akbar made in his defence of a tolerant
multiculturalism concerns the role of reasoning.
Akbar’s analyses of social problems illustrate the
power of open reasoning and choice even in a
clearly pre-modern society.
Akbar was, for example, opposed to child
marriage. He argued that ‘the object that is
intended’ in marriage ‘is still remote’, and there is

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immediate possibility of injury’. There was good
sense in Akbar’s insistence that a millenial
occasion is not only for fun and festivities. Akbar’s
emphasis on reason and scrutiny serves as a
reminder that ‘cultural boundaries’ are not is
limiting as it’s sometimes alleged (as, for example,
in the view, discussed earlier,that ‘justice’, ‘right’,
‘reason’, and ‘love of humanity’s, western values).
Many features of the European Enlightenment can
be linked with questions that were raised earlier-
not just in Europe but widely across the world.
In the chapter named ‘Secularism and it’s
Discontents’, Sen describes about the Indian
secularism. He says that intellectual scepticism
about secularism is not confined to those actively
engaged in politics. The nature of secularism as a
principle calls for some clarification as well as
scrutiny. Secularism in the political as opposed to
ecclesiastical- sense requires the separation of the
state from any particular religions order. The first
view argues that secularism demands that the
state be equidistant from all religions- refusing to
take sides and having a neutral attitude towards
them. Secondly, view insists that the state must
not have any relation at all with any religion. In
both interpretation, secularism goes against giving

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any religion a privileged position in the activities of
the state.
Sen analyzes that the role of secularism in
India, note must taken of its intrinsic
‘incompleteness’, including the problems that this
incompleteness leads too, as well as the
opportunities it offers. Scepticism about Indian
secularism takes many different forms. He
considers it in particular six distinct lines of
arguments such as The ‘ Non-existence’ Critique,
The ‘Favoriticism’ Critique, The ‘Prior identity’
Critique, The ‘Muslim sectarianism’ Critique, The
‘The Anti-modernist’ Critique and The ‘Cultural’
Critique. On the Non- existence Critique, overlooks
how crucial outside perceptions have historically
been to the identity of Indian’s themselves.

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