One of the striking aspects of modernity is the reduction of the available categories. Eg: In the Hindu epistemology, Pratyakśa, Anumāna, Śabda were considered to be valid means of knowledge (Pramana). Modernity operates only within Pratyakśa, Anumāna, foregoing Śabda 1/
In Haidt, Joseph and Graham's Moral Foundations Theory, there are six moral foundations (Care, Fairness, Liberty, Loyalty,Authority,Sanctity) as the set of moral foundations defining the morality of a society. Modernity operates only within the Care, Fairness & Liberty. 2/
This reduction has interesting consequences. It ends up declaring Truths and Experiences which have long held to be acceptable in traditional societies as invalid as these cannot be sufficiently explained using the restricted set of categories. 3/
Let us consider a few examples: As I had alluded to in an earlier thread, our forefathers in the earlier years were comfortable listening to a tale filled with fantastic elements such as talking animals, weapons invoked with sacred incantations etc. 4/
A lot of them, when pressed for the reason for their belief would simply say, "Such-and-such a thing has been mentioned in the Itihasa/Purana. So I don't have a problem accepting them as truth". 5/
A few years later, the descendants of the same people
concoct hilarious explanations to give validity to the same story elements. So talking animals now become Humans who were disfigured and looked like animals. 6/
Weapons invoked with sacred incantations now become Nuclear Weapons. Because the inhabitants of the Modern world are forced to explain the validity of their favorite tales within the restricted epistemological categories. 7/
Thus when some Māma talks about Nuclear weapons/flying Aircrafts mentioned in the Vedas, it causes both amusement & embarrassment to the younger generation who have grown up with this restricted set of categories & cannot accept such a poor justification within this set. 8/
Another example is last year's judgement on the Sabarimala case. Using Haidt's moral foundation theory, the Sabarimala issue can be framed by a traditionalist based on the foundations of "Sanctity" of that temple tradition, and the "Authority" of the Sthalapurana. 9/
However, for a modernist, these categories are non-existent. So they have to work within the Care/Harm, Fairness/Cheating and Liberty/Oppression foundations. 10/
Now,try as best,the RW's appeal to the Care/Harm foundation via "Restriction against women with procreative capabilities does not harm anyone" will fall flat when pitted against the Fairness/Cheating foundation "The restriction discriminates against women, and is unfair" ... 11/
& Liberty/Oppression foundation "The restriction is a manifestation of the subjugation of women under a patriarchal society".The appeals such as "Women who aren't even devotees have no right to file a petition" don't hold water within the restricted set of moral foundations, 12/
as that would be an appeal to the "Authority" and the "Sanctity" foundations which are no longer recognized, not even by the subset of RW termed as the Raytas. 13/
One more example would be the judgement that was delivered last year decriminalizing adultery. Now, a traditionalist would frame this from the point of view of "Sanctity" of the institution of marriage, and "Loyalty" of the spouses towards one another. 14/
Adultery clearly violates both these moral foundations. It does not violate "Care/Harm" foundation, nor the "Fairness/Cheating" foundation (though one can make a weak case for it), nor the "Liberty/Oppression" foundation (which would in fact support adultery) 15/
So what happens when "Sanctity" and "Loyalty" are taken away? Adultery can no longer be viewed as a crime as doing so would violate the "Liberty/Oppression" foundation! And this is precisely what the judges appealed to in their judgement.16/
In these examples, the common theme is that a practice or knowledge which was once valid because it had a supporting category now becomes invalid because modernity refuses to recognize those supporting categories. 17/
Thus, a traditionalist arguing for the the validity of traditional knowledge and practices within a modern setting is like a warrior entering the arena without his weapons. S/He can put up a brave fight, but s/he has very little chances of winning. 18/
The only way for a traditionalist to win in such a setting would be to restore the recognition of the categories that have been cast aside by modernity. This is a uphill task. However IMO, a prerequisite to that is that the traditionalist must not commit the.. 19/
.. Category Mistake i.e, attempt to explain the validity of a knowledge/practice only using the categories acceptable to the opponent with the vain hope that this will foster dialogue with the adherents of modernity. This would only result in the traditionalist ceding ground 20/
.. with no reciprocation from the other side. 21/END
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