On Vivekananda's defense of caste
#25
[quote='Lije' pid='7688' dateline='1357049577']
(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...

Quote: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.
OK. There was a lapse on my part in writing. I see why you think I did not get the fallacy. Let me restate.
You are saying the opposite... that it is wrong if someone could claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is supposedly 'unnatural' or good because it is natural...

In the context of what I have said in the entire thread...this is what I meant to write. Anyway, my point is still valid. If something has a natural basis and we know this scientifically, then we may indeed say that it is perfectly alright for them to be that way.

You have admitted here that Vivekananda was not casteist and so case is closed. The rest of the points should be addressed to Hindu apologists of a Hindutva flavor not of a Vivekananda mindset.
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#26
(02-Jan-2013, 12:57 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: OK. There was a lapse on my part in writing. I see why you think I did not get the fallacy. Let me restate.
You are saying the opposite... that it is wrong if someone could claim that homosexuality is wrong because it is supposedly 'unnatural' or good because it is natural...

In the context of what I have said in the entire thread...this is what I meant to write. Anyway, my point is still valid. If something has a natural basis and we know this scientifically, then we may indeed say that it is perfectly alright for them to be that way.

You are still pretty clueless. Meat eating has a very 'natural' and 'scientific' basis. But you wouldn't touch meat with a 10 foot pole or even advocate that people eat it. And the reason is you can't just appeal to nature and say it is good or bad.

(02-Jan-2013, 12:57 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: You have admitted here that Vivekananda was not casteist and so case is closed. The rest of the points should be addressed to Hindu apologists of a Hindutva flavor not of a Vivekananda mindset.

I happen to know some people of a 'Vivekananda mindset' who still use arguments like this. Just because Vivekananda recanted his views, doesn't mean that his followers do. I bet most don't even know about his later change. Btw, nice try sneaking in your pet agenda - that is to neatly absolve Hinduism of any flaws and assign it all to Hindutva. This thread is about Vivekananda's defence of caste. It is not about the entirety of Vivekananda's character or about the whole of Hinduism. So there's really no need for you get so defensive.
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#27
(01-Jan-2013, 07:42 PM)Lije Wrote: 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.

How being mindful of the is-ought problem and having to identify both fact and value propositions among the premises is crucial while taking an ethical stance, is outlined in simple terms here. In the current context, to say that "Equal opportunity ought to prevail." is a value premise, which might even be shared and accorded lip-service by some opponents of affirmative action who, in self-serving naivete, treat as factual the premise that "Equal opportunity already prevails". Anyone claiming that "Equal opportunity already prevails" ends up committing the just-world fallacy and therefore conclusions about the need for affirmative action which they base on this falsifiable (and indeed demonstrably falsified) premise cannot be treated as sound.

In this thread, the premises which those sharing the_analyzer's views hold, will stand revealed if they care to answer the questions in this earlier post.

(02-Jan-2013, 06:50 AM)Lije Wrote: This thread is about Vivekananda's defence of caste. It is not about the entirety of Vivekananda's character or about the whole of Hinduism. So there's really no need for you get so defensive.

Defending a person when an idea is attacked is like an ad hominem in reverse. Quoting Point #5 from here:
Quote:In other words, it is the claims and not the claimants that are being put to the test while in practice and in effect, reputations may well be at stake. This follows from the principle of separating people from ideas.

It is similarly out of place to defend an entire ideology when an idea is attacked. Clarity on what is being spoken about helps, as does making clear in what sense certain catch-all words are used.

tl;dr : So much of the avoidable ambiguity and acrimony in online ideological debates can prevented by stating upfront the scope, stakes and premises.
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#28
(02-Jan-2013, 06:50 AM)Lije Wrote: And the reason is you can't just appeal to nature and say it is good or bad.
Several points to be made.
-Appeal to nature cannot be used to determine whether something is good and bad and that is not the argument that was made. If something has a natural basis, we cannot deny it and we should use the science we have to form informed choices about the benefit from these tendencies/mechanism and so forth.
-When I said the naturalistic fallacy is itself a fallacy, it does not mean that in every instance one can derive ‘good’ from a natural tendency. That seems to be another source of confusion. It rather means we cannot deny innate survival mechanisms we have adapted. Immunity is another excellent example of this. Before one complains that this is a question of ethics more so than biology, it is useful to note that our sense of morality itself is a natural tendency, and it can without doubt be beneficial for our survival. Just as anger and dare I say even envy can be beneficial.
-Applying this to something like varnashram and ‘gunas’ is indeed controversial. Yet, we have to face the reality that from an early age, we develop in drastically different rates and manners. Certainly to label someone who is more interested in defense a Kshatriya and someone in hair styling a sudra is untenable. What cannot be denied, however, is that we are different. One can go on and on about how it would be a natural fallacy to derive ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from this observation, but the fact is that we have to live with this reality and prioritize accordingly (by nurturing talents displayed at an early age). As for denying someone the rights of a proper education because of their birth, this is also indefensible and that is not what the Swami is talking about in his letter. He is talking about someone who by choice or from family training has adopted his profession. This is a point that is often missed in dialog, since it is easy to generalize.

Quote:But you wouldn't touch meat with a 10 foot pole or even advocate that people eat it.
Wrong on both counts. I would at most advise a person to regulate their meat consumption, if I even did give my opinion. I would point out the facts about farming and animal slaughtering, though. After that, it is no business of mine what decision one takes. There’s no need to be so presuming.

Quote:that is to neatly absolve Hinduism of any flaws and assign it all to Hindutva.
No. We are talking about one particular issue, I have done nothing of the sort.

Quote:It is not about the entirety of Vivekananda's character or about the whole of Hinduism. So there's really no need for you get so defensive.
There were comments here and on the nirmukta.com site that suggest otherwise. I have elaborated further in the comment below.
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#29
[quote='arvindiyer' pid='7698' dateline='1357155139']

[quote]In other words, it is the claims and not the claimants that are being put to the test [/quote]

The response I made is a result of comments here and on original article posted on nirmukta[dot]com.
For eg. “You are too charitable to Vivekananda. He exactly knows what he is talking about. So much fricking privilege.”
Absolutely wrong. Vivekananda said that “The idea of privilege is the bane of human life.”
“Vivekananda had no wish to be anonymous. He lived with nobility during this time,”
“One aspect of Vivekananda that shines through in his books is his vanity. He loved having himself photographed, preferably posing in studios.”
“Parliament of Religions was a body of kooks”
Not one of these statements is addressing the claims, but they are making ad-hominem attacks.
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#30
(01-Jan-2013, 11:29 PM)arvindiyer Wrote: 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?

‘First-world’ does not translate to safe, especially when working with potentially bio-hazardous material. Personal protective equipment sometimes provide a false sense of security. Ultimately, safety measures are taken by the individual. That is beside the point. Sure, it is the decision of the student to put themselves in that place, but when have I dismissed safety issues surrounding any profession or lack of safety equipment? Further, since when does someone decide who belongs in a discussion or not?

Clearly the context of my comments is being lost. The context of my comment is that refraining from performing one’s assignments is unjustified when the person has made the choice themselves and there is no reason to feel discriminated or persecuted, as in my case. If there is good reason to feel persecuted, there is no reason for anyone to dismiss it. In fact, it begs one to ask how one can possibly extrapolate someone’s view of their own work situation to encompass an opinion on the conditions of people in a less fortunate circumstance. Comparing apples to oranges re-inforces a distortion of the context in which my comment was made.
Also, Vivekananda clearly mentions in the letter that is under debate “And that is what we want, no privilege for anyone, equal chances for all;” he did make the mistake of advocating Sanskrit education for upliftment, but over the years he seems to have changed his mind on that. It doesn’t change the fact that he was still against privileges and lack of privileges afforded by caste and birth.
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#31
(02-Feb-2013, 07:33 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Further, since when does someone decide who belongs in a discussion or not?

You need to chill out. Your entire approach seems to be "I'm going pick a fight". Arvind didn't say you don't belong in a discussion. He said:

Quote: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?

The meaning of that sentence is pretty straightforward to me. It means "disinfecting lab equipment" doesn't belong in a discussion about "lack of safety equipment poses in janitorial settings in India".
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#32
(05-Feb-2013, 11:46 PM)Lije Wrote:
(02-Feb-2013, 07:33 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: Further, since when does someone decide who belongs in a discussion or not?

You need to chill out. Your entire approach seems to be "I'm going pick a fight". Arvind didn't say you don't belong in a discussion. He said:

Quote: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?

The meaning of that sentence is pretty straightforward to me. It means "disinfecting lab equipment" doesn't belong in a discussion about "lack of safety equipment poses in janitorial settings in India".

My bad... I misread that. It seemed to me that some of the conversations here were getting personal and that is why I reacted in a like manner.
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#33
(06-Feb-2013, 05:23 AM)the_analyzer Wrote: My bad... I misread that. It seemed to me that some of the conversations here were getting personal and that is why I reacted in a like manner.

Perhaps you made it personal.

In any debate about privilege (eg. race, gender, sexual orientation, caste) there is this tendency on the part of a privileged person to take things too personally.

You should realise that the privilege discussion is not about you (one person) as pointed out in the following piece on white male privilege.

http://epicdolls.com/beauturkey/2012/06/...-about-us/

The advice in the piece is applicable to discussion on caste privilege as well.
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#34
(08-Jun-2012, 10:17 AM)karatalaamalaka Wrote: Now, being as we are in the 21st century, employers should provide janitors with the best equipment and strive to meet safety standards. India has largely failed at this. Streets are still swept with short brooms in a manner that is unsafe for the janitors. I conjecture that this apathy has little to do with money. Instead this lack of concern is partly due to the historical justifications for the caste system.

The plight of sanitation personnel has scarcely received the attention it deserves from policy-makers and local communities for whom the subterranean existence of conservancy workers is out of sight and out of mind. It seems to take stark portrayals like in this poignant photo essay by Sudharak Olwe to even begin a conversation on these issues.

Some initiatives whose emulation is long overdue elsewhere in India, to improve working conditions for urban waste-disposal personnel (callously referred to as 'rag-pickers' in Indian cities) are being undertaken by the following organizations, operating largely unsung since the 1990s in Pune:
Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat (Paper, Glass and Sheet-metal Labourer's Panchayat, Pune)
SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection and Handling)

Here is a sample of some international media coverage:
Out of India’s Trash Heaps, More Than a Shred of Dignity, The New York Times, June 12,2013
The article presents a compelling before-after picture making a case for initiatives like SWaCH.

Then:
Quote:For many years, Chandani couldn’t count on eating a good breakfast, washing with soap or rolling a pushcart. For more than 20 years, she has been a waste-picker in Pune (pronounced POO-nay), a city of six million. During most of that time, she dressed in tattered clothes and hauled a back-aching bag as she fought off dogs while scouring for recyclables at a landfill. She sometimes went without meals. She sustained injuries. Most hurtful, people often refused to make eye contact with her — except to call her a thief or a piece of trash.

Now:
Quote:“Now people offer me tea when I go to their houses,” said Chandani, beaming.
...
After collecting trash, waste-pickers like Chandani and Rekha segregate the waste in nearby sheds. They send organic matter to be composted, sell recyclable items and collect nonrecyclable waste (like candy wrappers) for transport to a centralized facility to be incinerated.

The waste-pickers receive fees of about 60 cents per month from each household they serve. The city also extends a modest health insurance scheme to the workers — a hard-won victory for K.K.P.K.P., which argued that after doing the city’s dirty work, its members deserved some social protection.

Waste-pickers receive income from fees from households as well as from selling recyclables, which combined can double or triple their previous earnings. “I can buy books, uniforms and soap for my kids,” said Rekha. “I can run a house on this.” And, equally important, Swach’s uniforms and identification cards bring waste-pickers a measure of respect that many had not before received.
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