Gandhi and Philosophy

Monday 25 March 2019; 5:30-7:30pm (Tea at 5pm); Room: MK045

Lecture 1: Truth, Love and Death (Mohan)

Truth, Love and Death

Although Gandhi is neither the first nor the last thinker to have attempted to bring a rigorous articulation of “truth” and “politics”, he was the only one to discover and then pursue in praxis the limit of such a relation as “the end” of politics. There are three levels of truth to be found in Gandhi’s corpus—the factual, the confessional, and the theological. At the surface is the factual level and it is expressed often in the form “the truth is that …” The confessional is not confined to speaking the truth at all times, but it is found also in the attainment of consistency between means and ends, which we will call “calypsology”, which guides the life of the individual and the community. The theological notion of truth is to be obtained through politics alone and it is the only ‘end’ which justifies politics. Gandhi displayed a certain affinity in the matters of truth with some thinkers who preceded him—Kant regarding the praxis of “the truth” which keeps institutions awake to their “ends”—and some who succeeded him—Alain Badiou concerning the “axiomatic” and “Paulinian” character of truth. We will find that truth demands a strictly non-affective “love” which reveals itself in death. Hence, Gandhi would say “Swaraj [governing by the self] is the abandonment of the fear of death”.

About the speaker

Shaj Mohan is a philosopher based in the subcontinent. He is the author with Divya Dwivedi of the book “Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politics” (Bloomsbury Academic, UK, 2019).  Twitter: @shajmohan


Lecture 2: Gandhi’s Hypophysics (Dwivedi)

Gandhi’s Hypophysics

Through its Heideggerian determination, the term ‘metaphysics’ has come to characterise the essence of the ‘West’ expressed in our technologised relation to nature. By referring to ‘the history of western metaphysics’, Heidegger had provided a method to diagnose the conditions of actualities that philosophical concepts create. Notably, Gandhi found ‘philosophy’ as well as technology to be products of the ‘evil nature of man’ expressed in ‘civilization’. He identified civilization as such with ‘the west’ and held that ‘A man labouring under the bane of civilization is like a dreaming man.’ The diagnostic method that Gandhi provided was a conception of the moral relation to nature, or nature as value. This Gandhian science of a moral nature can be called a ‘hypophysics’ which should not be confused with metaphysics. While both seek to diagnose the ‘west’, each opens on to distinct futures: metaphysics to an “other thinking” than philosophy, hypophysics to the other of thinking itself. Hence Gandhi could say of civilization that ‘one has only to be patient and it will be self destroyed’.

About the speaker

Divya Dwivedi is a philosopher based in the subcontinent. She teaches philosophy and literature in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. With Shaj Mohan, she is the author of Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics (Bloomsbury Academic UK, 2019). She is the co-editor with Sanil V of Public Sphere from outside the West (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015) and Narratology and Ideology: Negotiating Context, Form and Theory in Postcolonial Texts co-edited with Richard Walsh and Henrik Skov Nielsen (Ohio State UP, 2018). Twitter: @Aloft_Incumbent

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