Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inductive Knowledge Reasoning and Lokavidya

Surendran K. Karippadath
It is necessary to reflect on the existence of any fundamental differences in the method of reasoning / rationality between lokavidya and scientific knowledge ( university knowledge / organized knowledge ). Why? Is the template of 'the rational human being' somehow useless for understanding the specter that is haunting our people?

It is clear that an individual anywhere, in any group and economic stratum, use the brain ( think) as a human being - may be like a leopard or crocodile when trying to be a predator and like the harmless beautiful swan or gazelle, free or ready to fly if left in peace. Now, recent research on animal behavior has come out with, long suspected, another type of thinking, group think - such as exhibited by a school of millions of small fish swimming together in the shape of a very monstrous fish to scare the big predator, extending the group think of ants and honeybees and their tribes known still earlier. So, can it be that such group think is generally present also in human beings to a smaller or larger extent depending on how they experience their situation in the society? Moreover, is it that, this aspect is limited to the refined art of bargaining as in the case of the political class, business class, government service class and so on? May be not. An extreme form of this reasoning appears to manifest when the existential condition of the owners of lokavidya is reduced to mere survival, when the group resorts to something like purely inductive reasoning, as deductive reasoning does not lead to any actionable solution , as no rational explanation seem possible.

That is, members of the samaj (group) instinctively make the group choice , often as one person, and only subsequently try to 'understand the reason' behind the choice! An observer would say - as if to justify to themselves, or for propaganda purpose, or to convince members of their family! That was almost obvious when the people are forced to leave an area of a disaster, holocaust, ethnic violence, and so on. But, it is much more acute when forced to give up their village for some huge project for 'development of the country', which kept them asking to themselves the question - whose country? who are we? Often it goes like this : All the able bodied from one village have fled by the morning fearing police reprisal, fearing reprisal from those who are higher up in the hierarchy of the village. For, in a fit of anger at the inaction after the rape and murder of one of the community at the police station, the community vent their anger on the policemen directly. Elsewhere, today is the continuation of the same yesterday as it happens in Bundelkhand these days. At night the head of the family announces : 'Listen, X is leaving the village with his family at 3.30AM passenger to Nizamuddin ;...we should also leave along with them. Pack everything into two bundles, one will go with you and children; one will be in the cart and Y will come along with me in it, etc'. X had spoken the same words at home to his anxious wife and children.

We are trying to imagine the thinking of people suffering certainty of impending displacement. It is not rational, it is not for X, Y individually to decide - they see very little scope for individual action here! We thought we knew why there was no scope of individual rational decision making in some villages in Pakistan and India during Partition, Jews in Hitler's Europe, Gujaratis in Idi Amin's Uganda, the Hutus in a dominantly Tutsi land in Africa, the families from Bangladesh in Sealdah station in 1972 or those from Bundelkhand in Jhansi station in 2011, and other railway stations in India, may be in other countries of Asia, Africa or Latin America. But to experience the same because you are cultivating some land in the plain and is given only the choice less prospect of ignominy and sudden loss of self respect, to be picked up, as some unknown, unreliable contractor's wage labor in some unknown town - like the cattle at the weekly fair in his village!

We are interested in knowing how much of lokavidya knowledge is inductive. We are interested in knowing how much of the Truth for Ordinary man is Above all Ideas!- ideas formally argued out, deduced from existences for rational explanations, from evidence ( gathered even beyond the span of his own life ) in law for deciding the crime and punishment, .... May be for the social scientist or philosopher this march is not really new; it has just touched the exponential head. Then, the question arises : Is a large part of the Human Knowledge simply generated inductively in time, like the spread of a religion, by the inevitable sufferings of the lokavidya samaj ? And in raising the question thus are we getting enlightened about nature of religion and nature of truth simultaneously - through lokavidya? It appears that the life cycle of lokavidya is either incomprehensible like life itself or it is comprehensible like the conflicts of human life, wherein lokavidya is in eternal conflict with exploitative wage labor?

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