Gandhi’s experiments with hypophysics

Published : October 02, 2019 18:29 IST

“Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics” by Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi (Bloomsbury Academic)

Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics by Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi (Bloomsbury Academic) is a unique book that endeavours to go beyond the usual study of the Mahatma, his role in the freedom struggle and his ideology of non-violence. In this book, the authors aim to project a picture of Gandhi that is removed from his image of a first-rate political tactician who brought the mighty British to their knees. They show that while Gandhi did not propound a metaphysical theory per se, there is a theology behind his globally celebrated concepts of satyagraha, non-violence and brahmacharya. They find that nature is divine and the divine is nature in Gandhi’s theology, which they name “hypophysics”, and which they say Gandhi developed through his ingenious use of the theories of Euclid, Newton, Darwin and J.C. Bose: “He considered politics and civilisation to be deviations from the divine nature and therefore ‘satanic’. He developed a scale of speed to measure these deviations, and proposed the cure in the form of adherence to Truth and non-violence which cannot be fully grasped until the Gandhian Hypophysics is understood.” The book reveals, arguably, that a political project adhering to this theology would be the ultimate limit of nihilism and would risk the very existence of humanity.

The book, which was launched by the eminent historian Romila Thapar, also re-examines and gives new meanings to concepts such as resistance, power, truth and force. For these reasons, the American philosopher Robert Bernasconi says, this book not only “gives us a radically new Gandhi. It is a sophisticated reflection on modernity in its own right... and succeeds in opening up new lines of thought”.

Shaj Mohan, who graduated in mathematics and economics before getting his Master’s degree in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, is a noted philosopher whose publications and research focus on metaphysics, reason, formal systems, truthfulness and technology. Divya Dwivedi teaches philosophy and literature at IIT Delhi.

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