ISSN: (Online) 2321 -4155
ISSN: (Print) 2320 -7000

JOURNAL OF INDIAN RESEARCH
VOLUME : 2, ISSUE : 4, October-December, 2014 (ISSN No. : 2321-4155)
 
INDIGENOUS EPISTEMOLOGY AND PLACING THE CULTURAL SELF IN CRISIS: A NEW HERMENEUTIC MODEL FOR CULTURAL STUDIES
Sthaneshwar Timalsina
 
ABSTRACT
Contemporary studies in Western settings or their replication in non-Western academe has helped the West to impose its categories on the non-West. Western epistemology is still caught up in the binaries. The understanding of a culture is inevitably enigmatic when one’s scholarship is situated in the presupposition of a binary that opposes self to other. A culturally conditioned subject wanting to study another culture in itself is problematic. Moreover, the epistemic paradigm that reduces the truth to perspectives and makes all the perspectives equal makes the quest for truth by means of ‘studies’ irrelevant. By exploring examples from cultural studies where the cultural ‘other’ is India, the paper argue that those hermeneutic models that are not willing to call into question the subject itself are epistemologically flawed. A necessary ‘fusion of horizons’ is not possible unless the subjects in dialogue are willing to dissolve their differences or come out of the epistemic shell that defines their selves and differentiates one from the other. A dialogue, ought to be inter-penetrative, wherein both subjects merge in constituting a new paradigm. This can sprout the gaze of a disinterested subject, or that of the witnessing self (saksin)—through which one ascends by the erasure of one’s culturally constructed fictive self.
In this exploratory paper seeking non-western epistemological framework to understand truth, Indian concenpt of Pasyanti and pratibha as described in Bhartrihari’s work has been discussed. Pasyanti or selfseeing- speech explains the dialogical nature of reality; while the concept of pratibha or intuitive or reflexive awareness, a meta-gaze, provides a path towards self-recognition. These concepts can unite the binaries wherein awareness divided into the forms of subject and object dissolves. A hermeneutic shift is required in current scholarship whereby the self is willing to sacrifice its ego-bound identity and penetrate the objects, or experience other subjets the way they would experience themselves. This would not only help us evolve as empathetic beings but would also give us better insight into our own surroundings. The paper appeals for a movement beyond the recognition of cultural differences and seeks to universalize indigenous categories in redressing global problems.
 
KEYWORD
Abhinavagupta, Bhartrihari,deconstruction, Derrida, dualistic epistemology, Eurocentrism, fusion of horizons, hermeneutic, Nagarjuna, Occident, Orient, pasyanti, pratibha, pratyabhijña, Sankara.
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