[INDOLOGY] Malhotra's motives

Shyam Ranganathan shyamr at yorku.ca
Mon Jul 20 00:20:48 UTC 2015

On 19/07/2015 8:36 AM, Walser, Joseph wrote:
> I sense there is a lot of schadenfreude in this discussion, especially 
> since Malhotra would be the first to point out such errors in others 
> works. However, I think many of us worry that we might have let a 
> quote or two slip by my in our published work and I for one am not 
> about to throw stones much less censor the man. I think it would be 
> more productive to the list to discuss his arguments than his lack of 
> quotation marks.
> J

I don't know what this means. When my students want a grade on their 
papers  that are partially plagiarized, I'm speechless: what am I 
supposed to grade? The idea that the student caught plagiarizing has 
argued anything is undermined by the plagiarism. Like many on this list, 
I haven't read any of Malhotra's works. But, if it is the case that he 
takes a critical view of conventional Indology, that argument would be 
harder to make if he had to acknowledge his debt to the group that he is 
criticizing. The question is whether he can make his case without the 
plagiarism.  Where my students are concerned, it is usually that they 
can't, for what they wanted to claim as their original point isn't theirs.

Best wishes,

Shyam Ranganathan
Department of Philosophy
York University,

> On Jul 19, 2015, at 3:53 AM, Al Collins <nasadasin at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I still question whether Rajiv Malhotra intentionally plagiarized, 
>> even in view of the citations presented on this list and RISA. He 
>> could have made it clearer he did not agree with Nicholson, Halbfass, 
>> and others about the interpretation of their data and ideas, but 
>> plagiarism (like theft, murder, and so on), implies intent, in this 
>> case intent to steal another's work and present it as one's own. 
>> Intent, in turn, implies motive, a reason why he would want to 
>> present another person’s work as his. I see no compelling evidence of 
>> intent or motive here. Part of what happened could be what 
>> psychoanalysts have called "cryptomnesia," or forgetting that one has 
>> read something elsewhere, then remembering the content without the 
>> detail that it was found in another’s work.  That is a phenomenon so 
>> common that probably everyone will remember doing it (though the 
>> eventual recognition is inevitably less frequent than instances never 
>> recalled).The apparently flagrant 77 word unattributed quotation 
>> could be what Malhotra “remembered” (wrongly) to have been his 
>> paraphrase of a section of Nicholson’s book. He could simply have 
>> forgotten that he wrote down verbatim what he found in the other 
>> man’s book, and later thought the note he had typed was his own 
>> restatement of the idea.He might even have “remembered” thinking it 
>> himself! Either case would be akin to the “false memory syndrome” 
>> studied by Elizabeth Loftus and others which shows memory to be 
>> constantly reconstructed under the influence of personal motives.This 
>> is well established to be a universal phenomenon to which we are all 
>> prey, although careful research procedures can minimize it.Malhotra 
>> was not careful (to say the least). But, then, he is not doing research.
>> Considering Malhotra's aim may clarify matters. He is defending a 
>> position that owes almost nothing to the texts he quotes. Rather, he 
>> is proof texting, selecting what he thinks supports his own, deeply 
>> held opinions. There is no desire to be original in his choice of 
>> data; in fact, he wants his data to come from someone else. If they 
>> didn't, they wouldn't "prove" his point.
>> Al Collins
>> Al Collins, Ph.D., Ph.D.
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Shyam Ranganathan, MA, MA, PhD
Department of Philosophy
Department of Social Science, South Asian Studies
York University, Toronto

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