Friday, 6 June 2014

Bilgrami's Gandhi-2

It is a commonplace in our understanding of the western moral tradition to think of Kant's moral philosophy as the full and philosophical flowering of a core of Christian thought.
Our? Bilgrami, you are an Indian Muslim. It is not a commonplace for your people to believe any such shite. Nor is it commonplace for any German Christian to do so. Radhakrishnan did not make so vulgar an error in his engagement with Lutheranism even as a student. Why are you writing such ignorant shit? Does your colour (which actually is pretty white) or your status as a Muslim (non believing, it seems) give you a laissez passer to tell stupid, illiterate, lies?
No. But you are a Professor of a shit subject and that's all the excuse you need you worthless fuckwit.

 But Gandhi fractures that historical understanding. By stressing the deep incompatibility between categorical imperatives and universalizable maxims on the one hand, and Christian humility on the other, he makes two moral doctrines and methods out of what the tradition represents as a single historically consolidated one.
I see-only acting according to a maxim that can become a universal law means you have to be a self righteous dick and get up everybody's nose with your holier than thou sermons. Why? Who would agree that 'be a self righteous dick' is a universal law? Imagine the following- Gandhi turns up and starts telling you what a worthless cunt you are coz you wear trousers rather than a diaper. You promptly tell him he's an even slacker twatted ho coz he didn't personally sow the cotton from which his diaper is woven, He's going 'yeah, but like your're wearing trousers dude! Diapers trump trousers.' 'Ordinarily they would,' you reply suavely,' but these aren't trousers at all. What they are is the collected faeces of low caste bhangis which have been cunningly moulded to look like trousers. I personally, as a form of satyagraha, gathered all the shit by hand out of the anuses of Untouchables and as a gesture of humility and a blow in the face of British Imperialism fashioned them into the appearance of trousers. Ha, Ha- I win.'
Is that the sort of world anybody- more especially a self righteously dick- want to live in?
Surely, Bilgrami is wrong. Kant's categorical imperative entails'don't be a holier than thou Gandhian dick or Taliban dick or Amartya Sen type dick.' Why? Imagine a world where everybody is a dick of that sort. The Taliban dicks kill each other because the true Taliban kills anyone who might not be a true Taliban- i.e. everybody.
And discarding one of them as lending itself ultimately to violence, he fashions a remarkable political philosophy and national movement out of the other.
Shite cobbled together from Ruskin and Chesterton and Carlyle aint a Political Philosophy. It is shite. Why are you not saying Gandhi fashioned Khilafat and hence Al Qaida and the Taliban etc? Gandhi got money off the Khilafat guys for his shite Ashrams and Congress work.
He also got money and prestige off the I.N.C by promising to deliver Swaraj within 18 months.  He didn't.
Both Khilafat and the Swaraj movement existed before Gandhi. He just made money out of them and gained a temporary obligatory passage point status. But, he made himself irrelevant by his antics. He was a stupid fuckwit.
I want to stress how original Gandhi is here as a philosopher and theoretician. The point is not that the idea of the 'exemplary' is missing in the intellectual history of morals before Gandhi. 
Are you fucking mad or just stupid? What does 'insaan-e-kaamil' mean? What about 'Purushuttama'? Hang on, here's one you definitely do know- how's about Thomas a Kempis' Tshirt slogan- 'What would J.C do?'
The notion that the moral axis of the World does not coerce or criticize but that a sort of Boscovich 'field'- as in the Vimalakriti- emanates from him has been a constant feature of the 'intellectual history of morals' for at least two thousand years. Indeed, Occasionalism gains ethical salience precisely because this type of 'field' theory is hugely fecund.
What is missing, and what he first brings to our attention, is how much theoretical possibility there is in that idea. It can be wielded to make the psychology surrounding our morals a more tolerant one. 
Gandhi spoke his mind. He generally thought other people were selfish swine who didn't really understand stuff like their own Religion, Economics, Politics, Law, Education, Medicine, etc. He was swift to condemn behavior he thought immoral and to mete out punishments.
Now it is true that Spiritual Religion- whether Buddhist or Hindu or Sufi or Christian- teaches techniques to conquer cognitive dissonance and to control visceral reactions. Thus the sage should be able to serenely contemplate the most atrocious of spectacles without losing his equanimity.
Gandhi makes no special contribution. Furthermore, he simply wasn't a Philosopher.
If exemplars replace principles, then it cannot any longer be the business of morals to put us in the position of moralizing against others in forms of behaviour (criticism) that have in them the potential to generate other psychological attitudes (resentment, hostility) which underlie inter-personal violence. Opposition to moralizing is not what is original in Gandhi either. There are many in the tradition Gandhi is opposing who recoiled from it; but if my interpretation is right, his distinction between principle and exemplar and the use he puts it to, provides a theoretical basis for that recoil, which otherwise would simply be the expression of a distaste. That distaste is a distaste for something that is itself entailed by a moral theory deeply entrenched in a tradition, and Gandhi is confronting that theory with a wholesale alternative. 
When was Gandhi not 'moralizing' and criticising? He says again and again that anyone who does not do exactly what he says is evil and corrupt and likes eating nice food and wearing cool clothes and probably having sex and stuff.  True, he was 'passive aggressive' and backed down pretty quick unless it paid him to put on a gesture political drama to suggest otherwise.  Still, he was a major holier than thou shithead of the worst Gujarati type. Which is why Narendrabhai loves him so much.
Bilgrami doesn't say what 'Tradition' Gandhi was opposing. Was it Hindu? No- Bilgrami can't make that claim because he knows he is ignorant of Hinduism. If not Hindu, then what was it? It couldn't be Western because Gandhi denounced Western education.
Perhaps Bilgrami means 'Universal tendency' not 'Tradition'. In that case he is making an extraordinary claim- viz. Gandhi was the first and last man to achieve some very elevated moral stature.
But Gandhi was also a worthless fuckwit who alienated Jinnah and Ambedkar and did lasting damage to India in every conceivable way.
Moreover, his worshipers tell stupid lies about him like 'Gandhi got Freedom for India' or 'Gandhi healed Hindu Muslim disunity.'
So even if Bilgrami's claim is true, it is not interesting
This conception of moral judgement puzzles me, even while I find it of great interest. It has puzzled me for a long time. Before I became a teenager (when I began to find it insufferably uncool) I would sometimes go on long walks with my father in the early mornings. One day, walking on a path alongside a beach we came across a wallet with some rupees sticking visibly out of it. With a certain amount of drama, my father said: “Akeel, why should we not take that?” Flustered at first, I then said something like, “Gee (actually I am sure I didn’t say ‘gee’), I think we should take it.”  My father looked most irritated, and asked, “Why?” And I am pretty sure I remember saying words more or less amounting to the classic response: “Because if we don’t take it then I suppose someone else will.” My father, looking as if he were going to mount to great heights of denunciation, suddenly changed his 
expression, and he said magnificently, but without logic (or so it seemed to me then): “If we don’t take it, nobody else will.” As a boy of twelve, I thought this was a non sequitur designed to end 
the conversation. In fact I had no idea what he meant, and was too nervous to ask him to explain himself. Only much later, in fact only while thinking about how to fit together the various elements in Gandhi's thought, did I see in his remark, the claims for a moral ideal of exemplary action. But notice how puzzling the idea is. 
Not puzzling at all you fuckwit.  BTW you did too say 'Gee' or rather its homophone 'Ji'.
In any case, there is no great aporia here. Simply a story of any Ashraf or Caste Hindu taking a stroll on the beach with his Dad.
If you don't take the money you are somebody- i.e. a khandani Bilgrami Ashraf who will go on to occupy Chairs of Philosophy without blushing- this does not mean nobody takes the money but that a 'nobody' takes it.
Of if you feel this smacks of 'Casteism', look at it Game Theoretically. Your discounted reputational gain as the man who didn't take a wallet in the sight of another fully offsets the monetary loss.
Here is a wallet, abandoned, and we should not take it. This would set an example to others, though no one is around to witness it. 
No it wouldn't. Not unless you believe in something totally fucked liked Rupert Sheldrake's morphic resonace or shite. Fuck me, you probably do!
The romance in this morality is radiant. Somehow goodness, good acts, enter the world and affect everyone else. To ask how exactly they do that is to be vulgar, to spoil the romance. Goodness is a sort of mysterious contagion.
No. It's doing good things. Like tracking down the owner of the wallet. Or, if that is too difficult, just fucking obeying the law- which says hand it in to the nearest Police Station.

Gandhi was not a good exemplar. There were thousands of Gandhians but they produced nothing lasting. By contrast, take the case of Abdul Sattar Edhi. He came to Karachi a penniless refugee and penniless he remains to this day. Yet thanks to his personal example, nothing more- no long speeches or dramatic political gestures- his foundation is probably the largest voluntary Ambulance and Hospital service in the world.
Gandhi would have loved to have such a legacy. He probably genuinely believed something good would come out of his Khadi work and Basic Education scheme. Both were a massive waste of resources.
The Gandhi cap became a symbol of corruption- and, latterly, criminality and rape.
Perhaps, Bilgrami, in his own way is veering round to this view in his essay. He finally comes out and says Truth has to be about, at least partly, facts about the world. It can't simply be empty posturing. Perhaps, Gandhi wasn't really concerned with Truth at all. Perhaps he was a 'bullshitter' jumping on any bandwagon as an occasion to spout his self-serving holier than thou shite. True, Gandhi was afraid of violence because he himself and his own followers would die first, and this meant that he needed to spread hate by criticizing others without that hate spilling into violence because his side would get their heads kicked in. It was a tightrope that Gandhi had to walk. Fortunately it was a tightrope to nowhere and affected nothing. People who write shite may have their own reasons to pretend otherwise. Still, it is perhaps a good thing that they write shite on a topic which we have prior knowledge about. In this way, we are able to properly judge shite-writers as worthless shitheads whose oeuvre we do well to avoid.

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