[INDOLOGY] Controversy over Indian Science Congress to include panel On Pushpaka Vimanas

Dipak Bhattacharya dipak.d2004 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 01:32:24 EST 2015


I agree. Dermot Killingly too had hit at the right point.

But one can hardly blame this common perception of science. The tendency to
see 'science' as physical science, and sometimes even as technology without
any theory behind, is ancient. The word has been used to mean ancient
chemistry including toxicology in an ancient Sanskrit drama. The tendency
is prominent in British-American writings.

For philologists rigorously working with hypotheses and following the trial
and error method, it is an insult when one distinguishes science from

The outlook has another fallout. It is often seen that defenders of
religious beliefs invoke the views of noted physical scientists in their
favour. I have seen believers arguing that Einstein understood god as
cosmic consciousness. Einstein had every right to enunciate his idea of
god, but as a believer not as a scientist. The above idea does not add any
scientific value to theological questions.

It is an alien idea in the narrow misleading conception of science that it
is the method with a tangible object of enquiry that makes an enquiry,
whether about man or nature, science.

The saddest outcome of the distorted view of science is that such enquirers
into science proceed with unscientific methods in drawing conclusions. On
the one hand non-existent technologies and ideas are asserted as
achievements on guess work or paltry evidence, on the other, some real
scientific achievements are ignored. That is disservice to science.

I know few of the proponents being aware of the debate that went on in
medieval India between the believers in the earth's rotation against that
of the sun? There is no evidence of burning at the stake or of torture but
a study of the history reveals subterfuges. Moreover, why should not one
concentrate on the origin and development of the idea of morpheme and stem
or of the paradigmatic structure of phonemes and endings or on literary
criticism? These are areas where India did contribute a little. There are
similar scientific matters worth enquiry in ancient medicine.

I am sorry for a long lecture but it comes from everyday experience.



On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:00 AM, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com>

> The journal *History of Science in South Asia* <http://hssa.sayahna.org>
> has this to say, when outlining its scope:
> We take "science" to be broadly conceived, and to include all forms of
> rigorous intellectual activity that adopt at least to some extent a
> quantitative and empirical approach, as in the German "Die Wissenschaft,"
> that covers most forms of academic scholarship. Theoretical discussions of
> the meaning of "science" in the South Asian context are welcome. They
> should presuppose some familiarity with topics such as those raised in
> sources like Grant, *A History of Natural Philosophy* (2007), Latour, *Laboratory
> Life* (1979), Staal, *Concepts of Science in Europe and Asia* (1993, PDF
> <http://wujastyk.net/1993%20Staal_Concepts%20of%20Science_1993.pdf>),
> Shapin, "Science and the Modern World" (2007, PDF
> <http://www.fas.harvard.edu/%7Ehsdept/bios/docs/shapin-Science_Modern_World_2007.pdf>),
> Netz, *The Shaping of Deduction* (2003, PDF of review by Latour
> <http://www.bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/104-NETZ-SSofS-GB.pdf>),
> Pollock, "The Languages of Science in Early-Modern India" (in *Forms of
> Knowledge in Early Modern Asia
> <http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=14715>*,
> 2011), and similar reflective works that explore Global History, the
> interpretation of Modernities, and the general meaning of science in the
> pre-modern world.
> Factual articles reporting discoveries, or interpretative revisions, are
> also welcome, as are editions and translations of science texts in the
> languages South Asia.
> Best,
> Dominik Wujastyk
> _______________________________________________
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