Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Outside View

I have read way too much about Wendy Doniger to be read her books about Hinduism objectively. Up until reading this post in Marginal Revolution about the need to ask a non-Hindu about Hinduism, I was not particularly inclined to read anything by Doniger. Maybe there is something to be said of an outsider's view of a religion. While that view, may be completely unacceptable to the believers of the religion it could be helpful in other ways.

In an extreme oversimplification, if Doniger can be taken to represent the a certain culture and ethnicity, her views could serve as a proxy for their view of Hindus and Hinduism. Having this external cultural perspective on something as personal as religion can be instructive even if it is not agreeable. Instead we have a lot of earnest people who believe passionately about ensuring the facts present are right, and agonize over the accuracy of the interpretation.

If we could instead view the material as a creative writing and not assign to it any gravitas, we might get a lot more value out of it. I would almost equate it to an inoculation against the full-blown disease. Thanks to Tyler Cowen, Doniger is now on my reading list.

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