Indian way of Westernization

1. How the Indians learn whatever they learn will be in accordance with their ways of going-about in the world. That is to say, the configuration of learning determines how they learn whatever it is they learn.

2. What do they learn from the West? That theoretical knowledge is the foundation of all human going-about. That is, that their activities have to be theoretically founded.

3. However, in the Indian way of going-about, the practical or the performative dominates

4. Consequently, they adopt certain ways of talking about their goings-about. This adoption is itself determined by their configuration of learning. This means that the way they understand and interpret, say, the adopted western theories about man and society will be different from the western way. This suggests that they talk as though certain conceptions (or certain theories) found human actions. (E.g. the way make the western criticisms of the caste system, or their enthusiastic defense of secularism, or their alleged feminism and Marxism, etc.)

5. In which way is their understanding of the western theories different from the westerners themselves? It will involve some kind of distortion. The westerners use terms and concepts to refer to objects in their experiential world. Indians use the same words with the same or better fluency without, however, being able to fix the objects these concepts refer to. (E.g. `worship’, the moral `ought’, `God’, the `hierarchical caste system’, `civil society’, `citizen’ etc.) These objects do not exist in the Indian experiential world. Consequently, these concepts and the theories that embed them become mantras. They function as syntactical strings that one has learnt to put together. However, the theories that embed them lose their reference to experiential world. (This raises many problems about `meaning’ and `reference’.)

6. This mantric repetition (together with the learnt ability to put the syntactic strings together) generates the conviction that one understands these theories the way the western intellectuals do. This conviction is part of the `colonial consciousness’ of the Indian intellectuals. They believe that the description of the western experience is a description of their world.

7. Because the way they talk about their world is a mantric repetition, their reflections on their experiential world is either retarded or totally arrested. Somehow (the `how’ is not clear) an identification is made between talking the way the western intellectuals do on the one hand and the reflections on the social world by the Indian intellectuals on the other. This is one of the effects of colonialism. Western talk appears to substitute for Indian cultural experience.

8. Among other things, colonialism tried to alter the configuration of learning. Even though it did not succeed in doing this, it did alter the then existing coordination between different learning processes. Therefore, a new equilibrium between these learning processes will be found, if the Indian culture survives. I suggest that the last fifty years or more has consisted of attempts to find that equilibrium. I do not believe that it has yet been found.

9. Consequently, we have the presence of many different things in India. The transmission of culture continues (i.e. one learns through the Indian configuration of learning); the lack of connection between a way of talking about the world and the experience of the world continues; the different experiments to `restore’ (if I may put it this way) the coordination of the learning processes continue, and so on.

10. The Indian way of westernization is an expression of all these different processes. Their way of making western constructs their own is a combination of at least (a) colonial consciousness, (b) the Indian configuration of learning and (c) the event that colonialism is. I know that this is not as clear as one would have hoped. Lack of clarity has to do with: (a) the fact that my story is not yet developed enough to answer such concrete questions; (b) the need to do research into the nature of colonialism; (c) the fact that we need to do research into the concrete, empirical aspects of the question itself and (d) with the fact that these issues do not lend themselves to abstract answers.