Project (2017-2018)

Ancients and Moderns: A Cultural History of Modern Science in India (1600–2000)

India’s encounter with modern science began in 1615 when an envoy of the East India Company presented a telescope to the Mughal emperor, Jahangir. The ensuing centuries have witnessed a complex interplay between the new nature-knowledge characterized by experimental method and naturalistic metaphysics ushered in by the Scientific Revolution, and the larger universe of meaning inherited from the Indic scientific, religious, and cultural traditions.

My overarching interest is in understanding the pattern of cultural metabolism of modern science in India. I examine these patterns through three ideal-type intellectual stances: Avirodha (encompassing and subordinating modern science within the worldview of Vedic/spiritual science), Virodha (recognizing the contradictions between the two knowledge systems), and Ati-virodha (rejecting the idea of universalism and objectivity of modern science in favor of culture-bound, alternative rationalities).

At the MPIWG, I hope to complete a short book manuscript which looks at the Avirodha, or harmonization, tradition from a critical rationalist perspective.