Article

I and the other: a hermenneutical study of the epistemological models available in Indian philosophy

The quickest of our actions presupposes and involves some minimal ontological conception of the object towards which our actions may be directed. Even our reflexive actions can only be understood in terms of some minimal subconscious understanding of the object that it may be aimed at. Thus all our actions deliberate or reflexive are in a certain sense influenced by how we view the Other at the receiving end of that action. This would further mean that problem of understanding actions has a hermeneutical side to it. Once this hermeneutic link between our notion of the Other and its epistemic influence on our actions is admitted, it would have inevitable bearing upon our conceptions of collectivities as well. In terms of its importance for our study of different societies and polities in the world, it may present to us new interesting predicaments. In the following presentation I attempt to survey some of the epistemological approaches suggested by different schools of Indian philosophy to make sense of an entity as such and examine them for their rigidity or flexibility vis-à-vis questions regarding individuality and collectivity. In the light of these findings I try to assess which of these philosophies should be considered better suited for the social milieu of the contemporary multicultural societies of the world than certain others.

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