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Festschrift to a Thinker and Institution Builder


Nivedita Menon

GROUNDING MORALITY: FREEDOM, KNOWLEDGE AND THE PLURALITY OF CULTURES
Edited by Jyotirmaya Sharma and A. Raghuramaraju
Routledge, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 368, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 12 December 2010

Acollection in honour of distinguished philosopher Mrinal Miri, this volume is held together less by any thematic unity, despite its title, than by the personal closeness the authors and editors (two of his former students), feel towards an undoubtedly remarkable thinker and institution builder. That such a range of thoughtful essays in critical thinking and philosophy should result from this endeavour says much about Professor Miri. Leela Gandhi via Gandhi and Heidegger, thinks about the possibilities of a nonviolent modernity, setting up a productive conversation between nonwestern and western discourses of nonviolence; Sanil V. enters into a dark reflection on hate shot through by Medeas cold monstrous eyes; Udaya Kumar with his characteristic scholarly care, engages closely with Kants formulation of the sublime to throw light on conflictridden modernity and its surpassing. Akeel Bilgramis distinction between the subjective and objective aspects of identity, that is, between selfidentification and identification with features attributed by others, raises the philosophical possibility of selfdeception regarding ones notion of ones self. Or at least, what he terms selfmyopia, the intriguing idea that one may sometimes simply be too deep for oneself. Which of theseaspectssubjective or objectivewe choose to emphasize will depend on considerations of autonomy and moral reasoning, thus creating a productive tension between politics and moral philosophy. Jonardon Ganeri and Michael McGhee take philosophy itself as their object of reflection. Ganeri problematizes the categories of western and Indian as located in the terrain of invention rather than discovery, but nevertheless points to the significance and the need to study nonwestern philosophyIndian philosophyin the specificity of its location within a matrix of interests that serves to give it its value. Through a discussion of a section of the Mahabharata and of the Nyayasutra, Ganeri shows that the philosophy of ancient India can yield a rich understanding of the place of philosophy in the organization of a life, an understanding that at one level is of the same type as Greek and Roman thought, but very different in its specific detail. Through a discussion of Platos Symposium, McGhee considers philosophy as conversation within a philosophical community. Returning to the image of the cave in The Republic, McGhee focuses on the moment when the released prisoner sees for the first time the mechanisms which had determined the form of his whole previous experience, that moment providing for us a template by which we can start to understand ...


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