On Vivekananda's defense of caste
#13
(31-Dec-2012, 09:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Just calling it a naturalistic fallacy does not make it one.

And how exactly have you refuted that its not a naturalistic fallacy? Care to elaborate?
[/quote]

(31-Dec-2012, 09:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Societies everywhere have labour-intensive professions. Germany is actually facing a crisis because no one wants low wage jobs. This is not because they don't like getting their hands dirty, but because low income jobs push you to the brink of poverty https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/03/germ-m22.html. 'Someone has to do it' as they in the US. And now we Indians whine about these jobs. Heck, as a graduate student I have to clean dishes, bleach nasty fungi off of glassware and the like, but I don't sit around whining.

Is it being suggested that "manual scavenging" is same as cleaning dishes?

(31-Dec-2012, 09:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: And its not just lower castes that have to do this. There are people who traditionally have belonged to the brahmin community that clean toilets and refuse for a living. Compare this Martin Luther King Jr.s idea that even a street sweeper should do his job as well as s/he can.

An odd case is not an indicator of a trend. And there is a difference between doing it out of choice and out of lack of other opportunities or societal coercion
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#14
Quote:And how exactly have you refuted that its not a naturalistic fallacy? Care to elaborate?
The fallacy states that what is natural is 'good'. This isn't a matter of good or bad. It is an observation of the way functioning societies have had division of labor. Besides, the naturalistic fallacy is itself a questionable fallacy. Evolution by 'natural' selection keeps beneficial genes and genes that are not beneficial will either be lost or can not be found in nature. But that is a different issue.

Quote:Is it being suggested that "manual scavenging" is same as cleaning dishes?
No. Is it being suggested that people like Vivekananda would not have been able to tell the difference between mending shoes and manual scavenging? Manual scavenging, cleaning public toilets etc. are not just a lower caste issue as people want to believe

Quote:An odd case is not an indicator of a trend. And there is a difference between doing it out of choice and out of lack of other opportunities or societal coercion
So odd cases can be ignored because of the number of people and community involved? And you think these odd cases are delighted at the prospect of picking up human excrement? Kanch Iliah and Gita Ramaswamy have really managed to convince people to adopt selective humanism.

Finally, towards the end of his life, Swami Vivekananda condemned varnashram also. There is no point in classification by birth he realized, as did the ancients
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#15
(31-Dec-2012, 11:32 PM)the_analyzer Wrote: Manual scavenging, cleaning public toilets etc. are not just a lower caste issue as people want to believe

Are there nationwide statistics showing a near-even or at least comparable representation of all castes in such professions? Anecdotes of an occasional janitor from a privileged caste do not render caste entirely coincidental, as the case study at the end of this post demonstrates.

(31-Dec-2012, 11:32 PM)the_analyzer Wrote: Kanch Iliah and Gita Ramaswamy have really managed to convince people to adopt selective humanism.

What are credible alternatives for a more universal humanism? Could someone provide historical or contemporary case studies of where universal humanism has been achieved?

An approach of realization-focused comparison rather than transcendental institutionalism seems more credible, and for this, addressing manifest injustices is a pre-requisite. Such measures will seem selective, only because the prevailing injustice is also selective.

(31-Dec-2012, 11:32 PM)the_analyzer Wrote: There is no point in classification by birth he realized, as did the ancients

It will take more than mythical instances to earn a clean chit for the ancients.
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#16
Quote:Are there nationwide statistics showing a near-even or at least comparable representation of all castes in such professions? Anecdotes of an occasional janitor from a privileged caste do not render caste entirely coincidental
Yes there are. They are given at the end of the video link. Even the 'occasional janitor from a privileged caste' would be absent if caste was totalitarian. And these are not occasional janitors as one might be tempted to dismiss. What is so 'occasional' if caste is endemic?

Quote:What are credible alternatives for a more universal humanism? Could someone provide historical or contemporary case studies of where universal humanism has been achieved?
The same approach that is used for one community should be applied to all affected, without labeling 'odd cases' and other statistical biases into the equation. As a researcher who lectured at a seminar at my university once said, (and I paraphrase) 'mortality from drug administration is often represented as an 'average'. This average does not take into consideration that sizeable minority that passed away within a few years of the drug treatment and those that actually died!'

Quote:It will take more than mythical instances to earn a clean chit for the ancients.

The given reference contains a series of statements found in literature, not an instance of anything. The same literature that is often used to erroneously show caste exploitation as with the instance of eklavya, which can also be dismissed as a mythical instance by such a criterion. Apologism works both ways.
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#17
(31-Dec-2012, 11:32 PM)the_analyzer Wrote: The fallacy states that what is natural is 'good'. This isn't a matter of good or bad. It is an observation of the way functioning societies have had division of labor. Besides, the naturalistic fallacy is itself a questionable fallacy. Evolution by 'natural' selection keeps beneficial genes and genes that are not beneficial will either be lost or can not be found in nature. But that is a different issue.

You have a very poor understanding of the naturalistic fallacy and evolution. Vivekananda's statement is equivalent to saying "eating meat is natural, hence everyone should eat it". And "beneficial" in evolutionary sense is very different from "beneficial" in an ethical sense. You are equivocating on the meaning of beneficial.

(31-Dec-2012, 09:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Societies everywhere have labour-intensive professions. Germany is actually facing a crisis because no one wants low wage jobs. This is not because they don't like getting their hands dirty, but because low income jobs push you to the brink of poverty https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2012/03/germ-m22.html. 'Someone has to do it' as they in the US. And now we Indians whine about these jobs.

Vivekananda didn't just say 'Someone has to do it'. He implied that only some people are inherently good at menial jobs and hence they shouldn't complain. It is this that I pointed out. I never said that labour-intensive professions are bad. So what you said is a strawman argument.
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#18
Quote:You have a very poor understanding of the naturalistic fallacy and evolution. Vivekananda's statement is equivalent to saying "eating meat is natural, hence everyone should eat it". And "beneficial" in evolutionary sense is very different from "beneficial" in an ethical sense. You are equivocating on the meaning of beneficial.
I am quite familiar with both, thank you. You have just argued why the naturalistic fallacy (which was proposed long before evolutionary theory was formulated) fails with regard to evolution. And of course beneficial in an evolutionary sense is different from an ethical sense! That does not mean that a naturally occurring process cannot be extrapolated to dialogs on morality. This includes something like cognitive potential and predispositions to say, homosexuality, which appears to have an underlying genetic nature. Would you say that it would be a naturalistic fallacy when someone argues for the case of homosexuality from a genetic perspective? That in essence is the problem with the naturalistic fallacy. Here is another argument against this supposed fallacy Philosophy is good, but without science behind it, it is just arguing. In the case of Vivekananda, he is not making broad generalizations about eating meat like you are. He is speaking about the individual and his/her inclinations and personality, which again is defined by 'natural' processes.

Quote:Vivekananda didn't just say 'Someone has to do it'. He implied that only some people are inherently good at menial jobs and hence they shouldn't complain. It is this that I pointed out. I never said that labour-intensive professions are bad. So what you said is a strawman argument.

I think you're the one drawing a strawman. He actually chides those who do 'greater' jobs first. He then goes on to speak of 'non-brahmana castes' not necessarily people with menial jobs which I assume you mean dalits. There was mobility among castes and it was possible to obtain sanskrit education (which was the language of choice no doubt for the non labor-intensive professions) for other upper castes. Whether he meant the 'lower castes' is unclear. But you conveniently forget to quote this from his article, which is strongly against untouchability which is really the crux of the matter and is called a superstition in the article. 'Each Hindu, I say, is a brother to every other, and it is we, who have degraded them by our outcry, "Don't touch", "Don't touch!" And so the whole country has been plunged to the utmost depths of meanness, cowardice and ignorance. These men have to be lifted; words of hope and faith have to be proclaimed to them. We have to tell them, "You are also men like us and you have all the rights that we have."
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#19
(01-Jan-2013, 01:09 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: The same approach that is used for one community should be applied to all affected, without labeling 'odd cases' and other statistical biases into the equation.

(01-Jan-2013, 01:09 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: The same literature that is often used to erroneously show caste exploitation as with the instance of eklavya, which can also be dismissed as a mythical instance by such a criterion. Apologism works both ways.

If we agree to eschew resort to mythology and acknowledge on-ground reality, we would do well to pay heed to, say, P Sainath who spends the better part of his year in the field. In Sainath's description, there are four faces of inequality in India : class, region, caste and gender. (Watch from 37m30s in this video). An example of a citizen at the intersection of ALL these disadvantaged groups would be a woman residing in Bastar, below the poverty line and belonging to a tribal group. What if someone were to respond saying that overall misgovernance affects all, including caste Hindu males working in a multinational in urban centers, and therefore 'divisive' class or regional labels must be avoided in all discourse? Isn't such a response fairly characterized as self-servingly naive in its assumptions, callous in its delivery and potentially malicious in intent? So much human progress is owed to recognizing wrongs as real, which demands recognizing the wronged as people. It would be a hollow sort of humanism indeed that ignores all marginalization as a non-issue and imposes a nationalist narrative which is indifferent to the sufferings of the marginalized, let alone their aspirations.
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#20
(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: I am quite familiar with both, thank you.

No you aren't. And here's why:

The wikipedia article I linked to lists different uses of the naturalistic fallacy. I think it is obvious in what sense I used it. Alonzo Fyfe is talking about GE Moore's usage, because seems like it is a common objection to Fyfe's Desirism. I did not use "naturalistic fallacy" in the sense that "pleasant" or "desirable" cannot be reduced to natural properties. So you merely setup another strawman, and thought you had a point there.

Now coming to the sense in which I used it:

Quote:Some people use the phrase "naturalistic fallacy" or "appeal to nature" to characterize inferences of the form "This behaviour is natural; therefore, this behaviour is morally acceptable" or "This property is unnatural; therefore, this property is undesireable." Such inferences are common in discussions of homosexuality, environmentalism and veganism.

That also answers another objection you conjured up - genetic nature of homosexuality. You are utterly wrong in assuming that I support LGBT rights just because it occurs in nature. I support it because I support individual rights.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: You have just argued why the naturalistic fallacy (which was proposed long before evolutionary theory was formulated) fails with regard to evolution.

Given that you confused the various uses of the naturalistic fallacy, this makes zero sense.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: There was mobility among castes and it was possible to obtain sanskrit education (which was the language of choice no doubt for the non labor-intensive professions) for other upper castes.

You are using weasel words. There was very little mobility. Honestly, did you actually believe that I'm saying there was zero mobility? Of course some people were able to hop varnas. But that is besides the point. They are the exception rather than the rule. I'm talking about the rule.

Btw, when I say mobility, I expect something like this. More evidence for lack of mobility comes from the fact that there were no schools like today where everyone was taught some basic subjects.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Whether he meant the 'lower castes' is unclear. But you conveniently forget to quote this from his article, which is strongly against untouchability which is really the crux of the matter and is called a superstition in the article.

I did not say Vivekananda supported untouchability. How can I ignore something when that wasn't even my point? Caste is not equal to untouchability. Untouchability is one result of the caste system. Even when it is not there, the caste system can still exist. My post is about caste. That should be pretty obvious.
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#21
(01-Jan-2013, 05:06 AM)Lije Wrote:
(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: I am quite familiar with both, thank you.

No you aren't. And here's why:

The wikipedia article I linked to lists different uses of the naturalistic fallacy. I think it is obvious in what sense I used it. Alonzo Fyfe is talking about GE Moore's usage, because seems like it is a common objection to Fyfe's Desirism. I did not use "naturalistic fallacy" in the sense that "pleasant" or "desirable" cannot be reduced to natural properties. So you merely setup another strawman, and thought you had a point there.

Now coming to the sense in which I used it:

Quote:Some people use the phrase "naturalistic fallacy" or "appeal to nature" to characterize inferences of the form "This behaviour is natural; therefore, this behaviour is morally acceptable" or "This property is unnatural; therefore, this property is undesireable." Such inferences are common in discussions of homosexuality, environmentalism and veganism.

That also answers another objection you conjured up - genetic nature of homosexuality. You are utterly wrong in assuming that I support LGBT rights just because it occurs in nature. I support it because I support individual rights.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: You have just argued why the naturalistic fallacy (which was proposed long before evolutionary theory was formulated) fails with regard to evolution.

Given that you confused the various uses of the naturalistic fallacy, this makes zero sense.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: There was mobility among castes and it was possible to obtain sanskrit education (which was the language of choice no doubt for the non labor-intensive professions) for other upper castes.

You are using weasel words. There was very little mobility. Honestly, did you actually believe that I'm saying there was zero mobility? Of course some people were able to hop varnas. But that is besides the point. They are the exception rather than the rule. I'm talking about the rule.

Btw, when I say mobility, I expect something like this. More evidence for lack of mobility comes from the fact that there were no schools like today where everyone was taught some basic subjects.

(01-Jan-2013, 04:00 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Whether he meant the 'lower castes' is unclear. But you conveniently forget to quote this from his article, which is strongly against untouchability which is really the crux of the matter and is called a superstition in the article.

I did not say Vivekananda supported untouchability. How can I ignore something when that wasn't even my point? Caste is not equal to untouchability. Untouchability is one result of the caste system. Even when it is not there, the caste system can still exist. My post is about caste. That should be pretty obvious.

You've misunderstood pretty much everything I have said[/quote]. So I am just going to repeat myself and see if you get it this time...

That does not mean that a naturally occurring process cannot be extrapolated to dialogs on morality. This includes something like cognitive potential and predispositions to say, homosexuality, which appears to have an underlying genetic nature. Would you say that it would be a naturalistic fallacy when someone argues for the case of homosexuality from a genetic perspective?

You are saying the opposite... that someone could claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is supposedly 'unnatural' or good because it is natural... the fact still remains that the predisposition to homosexuality is a strong factor for the homosexuality... I am not talking about rights or ethics or philosophy, I am talking about causality and the truth. I have a sneaky suspicion you still won't get it and will continue with your 'you setup another strawman' philosophical rant... but the science is there and it is getting stronger everyday, perceived fallacy or not and that is what we should be making the case for. Not our opinion on what should or should not be an individual's right. because I don't care what your opinion is, I care for facts.

Quote: Of course some people were able to hop varnas. But that is besides the point. They are the exception rather than the rule. I'm talking about the rule.
Again, mobility could happen. It was an option. It not being implemented is an issue at the level of execution. If the constitution has proper laws and they are not executed, it is the problem with the executioner, not the Constitution. Exceptions and rules are useless labels especially when only the supposed 'rules' were recorded in history and we don't know how many exceptions there really were. Vivekananda was right and you are wrong.
Quote: Untouchability is one result of the caste system.
And it is the one that is also the most heinous. OK, step back. The reason I even mentioned untouchability was in response to the manual scavenging remarks on this thread and the quote about non-brahmins that you yourself had raised.
Quote:I did not say Vivekananda supported untouchability.
It would do you good to also admit that near the end of his life, Vivekananda did not support caste also as the very article you cite links to . So you can stop your pointless posts.
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#22
Quote:What if someone were to respond saying that overall misgovernance affects all, including caste Hindu males working in a multinational in urban centers, and therefore 'divisive' class or regional labels must be avoided in all discourse? Isn't such a response fairly characterized as self-servingly naive in its assumptions, callous in its delivery and potentially malicious in intent?

But that's not what I am saying and I agree that would be malicious. We should counter caste discrimination where it is needed and not muddle this up with and ignore the exact same situation on other groups. It would in fact be malicious to dismiss these as odd cases.
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#23
(01-Jan-2013, 11:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: You've misunderstood pretty much everything I have said. So I am just going to repeat myself and see if you get it this time...

Really? You are still pretty clueless as to what the naturalistic fallacy means. Otherwise you wouldn't even have said this:

(01-Jan-2013, 11:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: You are saying the opposite... that someone could claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is supposedly 'unnatural' or good because it is natural...

The naturalistic fallacy here means that on one could claim homosexuality is wrong because it is unnatural or that it is good because it is natural. You got the whole thing wrong.

(01-Jan-2013, 11:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: It would do you good to also admit that near the end of his life, Vivekananda did not support caste also as the very article you cite links to . So you can stop your pointless posts.

So it looks like you just want to pick a fight. Not surprising given our trollish antics on nirmukta.com in the past. I'm pretty sure you read the article on nirmukta.com where I did acknowledge it. But that is besides the point. I say this right at the beginning of my post:

Quote:What is the point of this post? To show that Vivekananda was a casteist? If by being casteist, it means that one is willfully justifying an inhuman practice, then no. Vivekananda is not a casteist in that sense. I don't think he had any malicious intent and means well when he defends the caste system. The point of this post is to show that even though his defense is well meaning, it isn't of any good.

Even if Vivekananda recanted his views, the same arguments are still used by Hindu apologists. That makes it worthwhile to analyze them.
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#24
(31-Dec-2012, 09:53 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: ...Heck, as a graduate student I have to clean dishes, bleach nasty fungi off of glassware and the like, but I don't sit around whining.

Stepping back a second, here are some simple questions for those who, like the_analyzer, insist on believing that caste privilege is a fictional construct and that their own success is owed to their efforts alone.

How can someone in their right mind think that disinfecting lab equipment in a first-world life-sciences research facility which one aspired to belong to, belongs in a discussion about how much discomfort and risk the lack of safety equipment poses in janitorial settings in India?

When a grad student's labors of the lab promise 'a path to higher destinies', what sort of ignorance makes someone say that a student's travails in the lab somehow belong in the same sentence as the plight of the likes of Hori Lal who are resigned to the same station in life due to an imposed narrative of human destiny?

On what basis can grad-students in a first-world setting argue that their position is somehow fairly deserved and earned and the challenges of say, a Mahendra, are also just deserts?

While we wait for stock responses to the above question, there's one thing to keep in mind. Neither Hori Lal nor Mahendra 'sit around whining'.

Note: Edit 5th Feb 2015 (Fixed links to Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life videos)
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