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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Applied (Indian) Philosophy

Out of the last weeks' news: 1. debate about the Danish terrorist Breivik: how could one defend one's society from hatred? 2. the number of people depending on pain-killers increases and pain-killers alone are often not enough to sedate pain. They would also need a psychological assistance.
From one point of view, it is way to easy to see that an increase in the general level of self-awareness, critical thought and intellectual resources in the society would be badly needed. As explained in the Kāmasūtra, even those who cannot read benefit of the general level of culture, because society as a whole so to say oozes with śāstra.
I am absolutely in favour of financing pharmaceutical research or computer sciences, but I wonder whether humanistic studies are really that useless. After all, does not society itself benefit of a general increase in its culture? Of course, scientific culture should also increase. But are we really sure that only the latter deserves funding? It should also be taken into account that humanistic studies are in comparison much cheaper. One does not needs labs, rats, expensive materials or the like. Why do not governments feel it is a good investment to have more people studying, e.g., Indian philosophy and resisting racism, or studying the Western philosophical bases of psychoanalysis and understanding how much of pain is culturally dependent?
But this leads me to a further question: how much do humanities scholars contribute to the misunderstanding of their disciplines as useless? Should we just stop caring about footnotes and bibliography and focus on the essential? Or is careful reading itself essential?

What do readers think? And what do they actively do?

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