The Nay Science A History of German Indology

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-07-02
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The Nay Science offers a new perspective on the problem of scientific method in the human sciences. Taking German Indological scholarship on the Mahabharata and the Bhagavadgita as their example, Adluri and Bagchee develop a critique of the modern valorization of method over truth in the humanities.

The authors show how, from its origins in eighteenth-century Neo-Protestantism onwards, the critical method was used as a way of making theological claims against rival philosophical and/or religious traditions. Via discussions of German Romanticism, the pantheism controversy, scientific positivism, and empiricism, they show how theological concerns dominated German scholarship on the Indian texts. Indology functions as a test case for wider concerns: the rise of historicism, the displacement of philosophical concerns from thinking, and the belief in the ability of a technical method to produce truth.

Based on the historical evidence of the first part of the book, Adluri and Bagchee make a case in the second part for going beyond both the critical pretensions of modern academic scholarship and the objections of its post-structuralist or post-Orientalist critics. By contrasting German Indology with Plato's concern for virtue and Gandhi's focus on praxis, the authors argue for a conception of the humanities as a dialogue between the ancients and moderns and between eastern and western cultures.

Author Biography

Vishwa Adluri is Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hunter College.

Joydeep Bagchee is Lecturer in Philosophy at Philipps-Universitšt Marburg.

Table of Contents

A History of German Indology
The History of German Indology as a History of Method
The Origins of the Historical-Critical Method in Neo-Protestantism of the 18th Century
The Origins of Philology in the Argument for the Immortality of the Soul
Defining the Scope of Inquiry
Plan of Study

Chapter 1: Historical Identity and Narrative Constructs in an Indo-Germanic Setting
The Birth of German Mahabharata Studies
The Indo-Germanic Original Epic:
The Buddhist Poetic Composition
Buddhism and Protestantism
Protestantism, the Counter-Reformation, and the Prosecution of Heresy
The Twin Brahmanic Redactions
Brahmanism and Catholicism
Return to the Problem of Textual Reconstruction

Chapter 2: Text-Historical Reconstruction and the Struggle for an Objective Canon
The Bhagavad Gita in German Indology
The Theistic Gita: Richard Garbe
The Epic Gita: Hermann Jacobi
A Practical Gita: Hermann Oldenberg
The Trinitarian Gita: Rudolf Otto
The Soldier's Gita: Theodor Springmann
The Aryan Gita: Jakob Wilhelm Hauer
The Brahmanic Gita: Georg von Simson
What is the German Gita?: A Review

Chapter 3: German Indology in the Context of the European Geisteswissenschaften
Problems with the Critical Method
The Scientification of Protestant Theology in the Critical Method
The Secularization of Protestant Theology in the Study of the History of Religions
The Institutionalization of Protestant Theology in Indology
Three Notions of Science: Positivism, Historicism, and Empiricism
Criticisms of the Positivistic Notion of Truth
From Historicism to Hermeneutics

Writing under Erasure
Creating the Object of Scientific Research
Honest Heretics or Neo-Brahmins?

Afterword: Gandhi on the Gita Problem

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