[Guest post By Joel Katzav.--ES]
Modern Indian philosophers once had a substantial presence in two of the most prominent English-language philosophy journals of the 20th century. The story that follows is primarily about this presence, and how and why it came to an end. The story is also about the similarity between this ending and another ending, one within modern Indian philosophy itself.
In his Introduction to Philosophy in Colonial India, Sharad Deshpande distinguishes between a first generation of modern Indian academic philosophers and their immediate successors. The first generation, he tells us, includes H. Haldar (1865-1942), A. R. Wadia (1881-1971), M. Sircar (1882-1954), S. Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), D. M. Datta (1898-1974), P. T. Raju (1904-1992) and K. R. S. Iyengar (1908-1999), among others. The substantial body of work in English which they produced was published in, among other places, two of the most influential English-language philosophy journals of the first half of the 20th century, namely Mind and the Philosophical Review (PR). Haldar publishes (full-length) papers in PR in 1894, 1896, 1899, 1917 and 1918. Wadia publishes in PR in 1927, Sircar in 1933, Iyengar in 1934 and 1939, Raju in 1941 and 1947, and Datta in 1948. Radhakrishnan publishes papers in Mind in 1917, 1919 and 1926, and Wadia in 1919. P. Narasimham is another first-generation modern Indian philosopher, albeit one not mentioned by Deshpande. Narasimham publishes in Mind in 1912 (under the pseudonym Homo Leone) and 1915. S. N. Gupta publishes in Mind in 1895 and thus also appears to be a first generation Indian philosopher. Plausibly, he is S. N. Desgupta, who is referred to by Deshpande, though Deshpande takes Desgupta to have been born in 1887.
The modern Indian philosophy in PR is modern Indian philosophy in at least one sense; it was written by Indian philosophers working in the academic world that developed on the Indian Subcontinent from the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century. In addition, however, much of this work also draws on, and engages with, the more than two millennia old philosophical tradition that developed on the Subcontinent. (Full-length) papers that deserve to be termed modern Indian philosophy in the second of these senses cease to appear in Mind in 1926 and do not reappear there until at least 1970. Such papers cease to appear in PR after 1948. Further, Indian philosophers working on the Indian Subcontinent contribute no papers to PR after 1948. At most, three such papers appear in Mind between 1930 and 1970. One is published in 1937 and is by C. T. K. Chari (born 1909), and another is published in 1955 and is by M. Timur, who writes his contribution from Peshawar (birth date unknown). The third is a paper which A. Sen co-authors; it appears in 1965. H. N. Gupta has a paper in Mind in 68, but Gupta works in Canada and his paper does not engage with the Indian tradition.
First-generation modern Indian philosophers continue to be productive after 1948; they also continue to publish in Western journals other than Mind and PR. The more or less complete disappearance from Mind and PR of work by first-generation, modern Indian philosophers, along with the complete disappearance of their work in these journals on the Indian philosophical tradition, is nevertheless easy to explain. The modern Indian philosophers publishing in these journals were strongly influenced by Absolute idealism. When it came to their work in Western journals, it often directly addressed the issues Absolute idealism was concerned with as well as defended variants of such idealism. When the work in question engaged with the tradition of Indian philosophy, it was often comparative in nature, bringing the concerns of traditional Indian philosophy and Absolute idealism together, as well as considering the advantages and disadvantages of each. Now, it was around about 1925 that G. E. Moore’s editorial policies at Mind largely excluded, among other things, work supporting such idealism from its pages, precisely when modern Indian philosophy ceases to be welcome in the journal (See Katzav and Vaesen, ‘Pluralism and peer review in philosophy’). PR continued to be a journal that was open to Absolute Idealism until around about 1948, when analytic editors, including, among others, N. Malcolm, M. Black and G. Vlastos, took over the journal and turned it into a mouthpiece for mid-century analytic philosophy (See Katzav and Vaesen, ‘The emergence of American Analytic philosophy’ [recall yesterday's post--ES]). As we have seen, it is around about 1948 that PR ceases to welcome modern Indian philosophy. It thus appears that the fate of the work of the first generation of modern Indian philosophers in Mind and PR was the same as the fate of the work of Western Absolute idealists and, plausibly, is to be explained in the same way as the fate of the work of Western Absolute idealists.
The fate of the work of the second generation of modern Indian philosophers cannot be explained in the same way. According to Deshpande, the second generation of modern Indian philosophers included, among others, M. Chatterjee (1925-), R. Prasad (1926-), M. P. Rege (1924-2000), Daya Krishna (1924-2007), K. J. Shah (1920-1994), S. S. Barlingay (1919-1997) and D. Y. Deshpande (1917-2005). As (Sharad) Deshpande reports, second-generation modern Indian philosophers were influenced by analytic philosophy; they engaged with analytic issues and authors, and did so in the appropriate style. Nevertheless, when this generation of modern Indian philosophers published in Western journals, it tended to be in journals which, like the Journal of Philosophy (prior to the early 60s), Philosophy, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research and Philosophy East and West, were open to more than analytic philosophy. Krishna was, as far as I can tell, the most successful in getting his work into Western journals. He manages to introduce a brief discussion note into PR in 1952 but does not, other than that, make it into Mind or PR. He does contribute a (full-length) paper to the Journal of Philosophy in 1956, one to the Australasian Journal of Philosophy in 1958, one to Philosophy and Phenomenological Research in 1969 and a number of papers to Philosophy East and West in the 1960s. No second-generation modern Indian philosophers publish full-length papers in PR or (at least until 1970 and with the possible exception of the above mentioned paper by Timur) Mind.
I want to present one more aspect of the story of modern Indian philosophy here. Deshpande writes, with regard to the second generation of modern Indian philosophers, that they produced
no substantial and sustained internal critique of the works of Seal, Haldar, Rasvihary Das, K.C. Bhattacharyya, Malkani and others.More than the inwardly felt theoretical dissatisfaction with what these philosophers have produced during the colonial period, the fascination for the new doctrines and philosophical positions that were emerging in Britain and America as reactions to idealism seems to have motivated this later group of philosophers to push the whole corpus of philosophical writings of their philosophical forebears into oblivion [Deshpande pp. 36-7].
The ‘inwardly felt theoretical dissatisfaction’ refers here to the attitude second-generation modern Indian philosophers developed to the work of first-generation modern Indian philosophers as a result of the criticism levelled at Absolute idealism by figures such as Russell, Moore and Ayer. While Deshpande elsewhere appears largely to accept the tale that it was the intrinsic merit of analytic philosophy that generated its success, he does call for a retrieval of the work of first-generation modern Indian philosophers. What I want to point to here, however, is that the marginalization I have noted with regard to first-generation modern Indian philosophers in leading Western journals appears to have, at least partly, been mirrored later on by the second generation of modern Indian philosophers despite the fact that the latter group was itself struggling to be heard in the West.