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Nagpur: ‘Ambedkar’s Buddhism pragmatic means to develop personality’

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NAGPUR: Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar liked the relationship between individual and social structure, but not the passivity of self-realization through their position in an existing society. Along similar lines, philosopher John Dewey believed that as part of it one should evolve in a community and not independently, said on Tuesday Professor Scott Stroud, Media Ethics Coordinator, Center for Media Engagement, University of Texas.

As part of the international lecture series on’ Pragmatism, personality and Ambedkar’s focus on conversion to Buddhism, Dr. Nitin Raut delivered the second lecture. The lecture was arranged at Convocation Hall by Nagpur University. Vice-Chancellor SP Kane and Pro-VC Vinayak Deshpande were present at the event.

Speaking of Dewey, Stroud said, “He’s known in the American sense as a proponent of democracy and education. Over the course of the short history of America, he may be the best known intellectual. His writings about democracy and his experiences in America make him an important figure for India. “Stroud said Ambedkar was a devoted follower of Dewey while studying at Columbia University from 1913 to 1916. He said, “I think one can not comprehend the pragmatism of Ambedkar without thinking about Dewey. At the same time, one can not grasp the strengths and weaknesses of Dewey’s theories without seeing how, in the Indian sense, Ambedkar developed those ideas differently.” “You can be affected by people in a way that does not include you replicating them. Once Dewey died Ambedkar said he owed Dewey his whole intellectual life, “he said.

“By Dewey’s theory, core principles of Ambedkar in pragmatism like caste as a habit and faith as a means were inculcated,” he said.

Stroud said, “My thesis emphasized that the Buddhism of Ambedkar serves as a holistic means of shaping the personality of each individual. Ambedkar put forth the idea of conversion as a means of freedom for community and person. He spoke about how the conversion would act as an intelligent means of emancipation. “On Monday’s first day of the lecture series, Stroud said,” America is grappling with the same issues about democracy in India, and we need to understand and also let us learn how to get along with each other in society.

He spoke of Ambedkar’s worry that “The moment we stop talking and thinking about things such as democracy and what Buddhism has taught us about equality and pragmatism, we seem to stop caring about them and they really don’t matter to us.”

Stroud said he’s been reading several journals, books, and papers to understand Buddhism and how it’s related to American pragmatism, and how Dewey influenced Ambedkar.

Rushabh Rathod with inputs

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