Comparative Science of Cultures

S.N. Balagangadhara

in Reconceptualizing India Studies

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780198082965
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081936 | DOI:
Comparative Science of Cultures

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This programmatic chapter explains the methodology of the research programme comparative science of cultures. A problem of cultural asymmetry pervades many dominant social-scientific discourses today: while western culture is seen as an alternative to non-western cultures, the latter are not viewed as alternatives to the western form of life. The task at hand is to decolonize the social sciences by looking at non-western cultures as alternate forms of life. Accomplishing his task requires comparative research of a particular kind: studying the western culture through the patterns in its descriptions of non-western cultures. This research aims at a ‘critique’: instead of rejecting the current social sciences, it develops competing theories that both explain why the mistakes they made were inevitable and propose alternative hypotheses on the relevant social phenomena. This comparative view is then illustrated by examining western descriptions of religion, the caste system and morality in India.

Keywords: Comparative science of cultures; methodology; Orientalism; decolonizing the social sciences; religion; caste; morality; critique

Chapter.  14071 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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