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India and the Unthinkable: Backwaters Collective on Metaphysics and Politics
Vinay Lal and Roby Rajan

A remarkable but little commented on feature of the various discourses on India circulating today is the near total absence of its metaphysical heritage as a source of illumination into our contemporary condition. On the few occasions that this heritage is explicitly invoked, it is either as a subsidiary aspect of some purportedly larger concept such as religion, civilization, history, tradition etc., or as a set of quaint speculations fit for study as a tertiary branch of history of philosophy or religion but with little claim to political relevance.

But is this neglect as innocent as it appears? Or might it be that the metaphysical heritage confronts us with the disavowed -- indeed the unthinkable that lurks behind our current obsessions: progress and development; modernity and tradition; faith and secularism; history and myth; fundamentalism and tolerance? The central claim of this book is that the metaphysical heritage has an autonomy and dignity of its own not subsumable under any other concept whatsoever; and that furthermore, our national self-understanding and its place in the current system of global knowledge are founded on a wholesale effacing of this heritage.

The collective contention of the papers in this volume is that a full and proper understanding of our ever lengthening catalogue of social afflictions and pathologies demands that we squarely confront the consequences of this fateful evasion, no matter how unsettling it might be to our vaunted notions about ourselves. Only in and out of such a self-encounter can we hope to break out of our thralldom to the currently hegemonic vision of humanitys future -- a vision that is already bankrupt in every respect, but which nonetheless seems able to reproduce itself without end.