Shaj Mohan
Shaj Mohan, philosopher
Alma materSt. Stephen's College, Delhi
EraContemporary philosophy
SchoolContinental philosophy
Deconstruction
Post-metaphysics
Main interests
Ontology
Philosophy of technology
Philosophy of politics
Reason
Anastasis
Notable ideas
Stasis,[1] anastasis

Shaj Mohan is a philosopher[2] based in India.[3][4][5] His philosophical works are in the areas of metaphysics, reason, philosophy of technology, philosophy of politics, and secrecy.[6][7][8][9] Mohan's works are based on the principle of anastasis (or resurrection) which holds that philosophy is an ever-present possibility.[10]

Life

Mohan completed his early education in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, and studied philosophy at St. Stephen's College, Delhi where he taught for some time.[10][11] He has academic degrees in economics and philosophy.[3][12] He has written philosophical essays against the rise of Hindu nationalism in The Indian Express,[13] Mediapart,[14] Outlook, La Croix,[15] The Wire, Le Monde[16] and Libération.[17] In 2021 the American critical theory journal Episteme published a special issue on the philosophy of Mohan and Divya Dwivedi.[18]

Philosophical work

Mohan's work shows possibility for philosophy which is neither metaphysics nor deconstruction, and its orientation was described as deconstructive materialism.[19] He has published in the areas of metaphysics, reason, nature,[20] secrecy, philosophy of technology,[21] and philosophy of politics.[22][23][24]

His work combines the formalism and argumentation of analytic philosophy with the intuitive exegetical style of continental philosophy.[25] Mohan is credited with having "created a new voice in philosophy" resembling the style of prophesy.[10] Mohan said that it is possible to practice philosophy without anchoring it to any tradition.[26] He argued that reason has an important role in philosophy in spite of the criticisms of it in the 20th century. Reason exceeds mechanical thinking as it has a relation to "the obscure".[27][28]

Mohan wrote the book Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politics published by Bloomsbury Academic, UK[29] with the philosopher Divya Dwivedi. Jean-Luc Nancy wrote the foreword to Gandhi and Philosophy and described the originality this work in terms of the relation shown by it between truth and suffering. Nancy wrote that this work creates the new beginning for philosophy following the end of metaphysics,

This is how this book comes to our attention and contributes to orient us, if I may say so, toward a thought, and even a world, neither humanist nor reduced to suffering in the name of Truth. In the terms of this work: neither metaphysics nor hypophysics.[30]

Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politics

M. K. Gandhi in 1909
M. K. Gandhi in 1909

According to Jean-Luc Nancy Gandhi and Philosophy leads to a new orientation outside of the theological, metaphysical and nihilistic tendencies in philosophy. Bernard Stiegler said that this work "give us to reconsider the history of nihilism in the eschatological contemporaneity and shows its ultimate limits" and offers a new path.[31][32] Gandhi and Philosophy calls this new beginning the anastasis of philosophy.[33] Robert Bernasconi said that the inventiveness and the constructivism behind the concept of ana-stasis, or the overcoming of stasis, has a relation to the project of re-beginning of philosophy by Heidegger.[34]

Gandhi and Philosophy proposed that parallel to the metaphysical tendency in philosophy there is hypophysics. Hypophysics is defined as "a conception of nature as value". Mohan said "This non-philosophical system, which we call hypophysics, is necessarily interesting for philosophy. "[4] The distance from nature that human beings and natural objects come to have through the effects of technology lessens their value, or brings them closer to evil. Gandhi's concept of passive force or nonviolence is an implication of his hypophysical commitment to nature.[35]

The philosophical direction outside of metaphysics and hypophysics is created through the invention of a new conceptual order. It is meant to enable philosophy to step outside the regime of sign, signifier, and text.[33][4] The Book Review said that the philosophical project of Gandhi and Philosophy is to create new evaluative categories, "the authors, in engaging with Gandhi's thought, create their categories, at once descriptive and evaluative" while pointing to the difficulty given by the rigour of a "A seminal if difficult read for those with an appetite for philosophy".[36] Some of the conceptual inventions have been noted to have come from mathematics and biology.[37]


The constructionist tendency of Gandhi and Philosophy places it between the dominant philosophical styles of continental philosophy and analytical philosophy.[33] The conclusion of Gandhi and Philosophy emphasizes the construction of a new dimension in philosophy.

Anastasis is the obscure beginning which would gather the occidental and the oriental to make of them a chrysalis and set off the imagos born with their own spans and skies; these skies and the imagos set against them will refuse to trade in orientations; and these skies will be invisible to the departed souls of Hegel who sought mercury in the darkest nights.[38]

Reception

Jean-Luc Nancy, Robert Bernasconi, Bernard Stiegler and Robert J. C. Young said that his work creates new possibilities for philosophy beyond the impasse of metaphysics and nihilism.[30][32][31]

Mohan's work on Gandhi was criticised from the point of view methodological and stylistic difficulty. Robert Bernasconi noted that Gandhi and Philosophy is a difficult book and it is "not a book that you will understand at first reading".[34] The difficulty due to the constructivist style was noted by other authors as well.[36][33] [39]

Gandhi and Philosophy was criticised from the point of view of the recent mounting criticisms of Gandhi in India and internationally. It was said that Gandhi and Philosophy might be exalting Gandhi while being very critical of him at the same time. The ambiguous approach to Gandhi was described in one of the commentaries in The Indian Express as "Mohan and Dwivedi have done a masterful job of avoiding the binary fork – hagiography or vituperation – as much of Gandhi and hagiography comes from a need to spiritualise Gandhi".[40]

Economic and Political Weekly pointed to Mohan and Dwivedi's participation in the paradigm of "western philosophy", especially when Gandhi's goal was to create an alternative to Eurocentrism. EPW said that his work may be of interest only to continental philosophy as she does not participate in Indic discourses.[41]

Bibliography

Secondary Literature

References

  1. ^ "Shaj Mohan : "Nous sommes en état de stase"". France Culture.
  2. ^ "Coronavirus and Philosophers".
  3. ^ a b "Gandhi's Experiments with Hypophysics". Frontline.
  4. ^ a b c "A new book examines what we talk about when we talk about the Father of the Nation". The Indian Express.
  5. ^ "Hindu nationalism and why 'being a philosopher in India can get you killed". Mediapart.
  6. ^ "Shaj Mohan bio at Bloomsbury Academic, UK". Bloomsbury Publishing.
  7. ^ "Une nuit de philosophie (1/4) : Philosopher en Inde". France Culture.
  8. ^ "Shaj Mohan". École normale supérieure.
  9. ^ "Book Review: Gandhi as Chrysalis for a New Philosophy". The Wire.
  10. ^ a b c "The Resurrection of Philosophy". The Wire.
  11. ^ "The sound of flicking nails". The Hindu.
  12. ^ "New book rubbishes BJP aim to assimilate Gandhi". Deccan Chronicle.
  13. ^ "Courage to Begin". The Indian Express. 30 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Hindu nationalism and why 'being a philosopher in India can get you killed'". Mediapart.
  15. ^ "Un nouveau mouvement pour l'indépendance de l'Inde". La Croix.
  16. ^ "En Inde, les troubles s'expliquent en partie par la Constitution du pays". Le Monde.
  17. ^ "L'antifascisme, un crime en Inde Par Divya Dwivedi et Shaj Mohan". Libération. 5 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Philosophy for Another Time; Towards a Collective Political Imagination". positions politics. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  19. ^ "The Deconstructive Materialism of Dwivedi and Mohan: A New Philosophy of Freedom". positions politics. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  20. ^ Yu, Ai (2020). "Digital surveillance in post‐coronavirus China: a feminist view on the price we pay". Gender, Work, and Organisation. 27 (5): 774–777. doi:10.1111/gwao.12471. PMC 7280578. PMID 32837009.
  21. ^ Apter, Emily (2019). "Alphabetic Memes: Caricature, Satire, and Political literacy in the Age of Trump". October. 170: 5–24. doi:10.1162/octo_a_00366. S2CID 208268701.
  22. ^ Dhanda, Meena. "Philosophical Foundations of Anti-Casteism". Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 120.
  23. ^ "Is privacy a privilege?". The Tribune.
  24. ^ Mohan, Shaj (2015). "On the relation between the Obscure, the Cryptic, and the Public". The Public Sphere From Outside the West. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781472571922 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "What we need is collective shared political inventions; Shaj Mohan tells ILNA". ILNA. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  26. ^ ""The Winter of Absolute Zero": Interview with Shaj Mohan by Auwn Gurmani". Naked Punch.
  27. ^ ""But, there is nothing outside of philosophy": Conversation between Shaj Mohan and Rachel Adams". positions politics. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  28. ^ Mohan, Shaj; Mohammed, Anish (2015). "Principle of Sufficient Reason 2: On Information Metaphysics". The Public Sphere From Outside the West. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781472571922 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ "Gandhi and philosophy". Bloomsbury Publishing.
  30. ^ a b Mohan, Shaj; Dwivedi, Divya; Nancy, Jean-Luc (13 December 2018). Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4742-2173-3 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ a b Stiegler, Bernard (14 November 2018). Qu'appelle-t-on Panser ?: 1. L'immense régression. Les Liens qui Libèrent. ISBN 979-1-02-090559-8 – via Google Books.
  32. ^ a b "Reviews Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politics". Bloomsbury Academic, UK.
  33. ^ a b c d "Gandhi as Chrysalis for a New Philosophy". The Wire.
  34. ^ a b Robert Bernasconi speaking at the launch of 'Gandhi & Philosophy'. Bloomsbury India. 14 March 2019 – via YouTube.
  35. ^ Singh, Siddharth (27 September 2019). "A philosophical appraisal of Gandhi's outlook and ideas". Open Magazine.
  36. ^ a b Tankha, V. "Philosophizing Gandhi". The Book Review.
  37. ^ "The Deconstructive Materialism of Dwivedi and Mohan: A New Philosophy of Freedom". positions politics. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  38. ^ Mohan, Shaj; Dwivedi, Divya (13 December 2018). Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-Politics. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-4742-2173-3 – via Google Books.
  39. ^ Suhrud, Tridip (17 August 2019). "'Gandhi and Philosophy – On Theological Anti-Politics' review: Leap of faith". The Hindu.
  40. ^ Ayyar, Raj. "Bending the binary". The Indian Express.
  41. ^ Raghuramaraju, A (3 August 2019). "Gandhi in the Company of Western Philosophers". Economic and Political Weekly. 54 (31). pp. 7–8.

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