A Renaissance figure and marvel that Rabindranath Tagore has been, an analytical predilection of philosophy is hardly enough for comprehending his phenomenal creativity and expression of the highest values of will and feeling. Often the question whether Tagore is a philosopher is quite idle, as idle as whether Nietzsche is a philosopher, or the author of Philosophical Investigations is a philosopher. It is easier to deride the high and naked peaks of synoptic insight and opt for the worship of little gods. If one cares for unfreezing habits of thinking, and is ready to see things from a new angle of vision and open widows into the not-yet-seen, then one will have to agree that Tagore is a significant philosophizer and that he compels assent.
This book studies and explicates Tagore's central vision and fertile concept of man, his relation to life and world, knowledge and imagination vis-à-vis truth, religious life and goodness, love and beauty, society and state, and finally a philosophy of language. It will be noticed that everywhere Tagore breaks through to a deeper insight. It is no wonder Sir Isiah Berlin comments in The Sense of Reality that with Kant and Goethe the world still belongs to Tagore. As one cannot alienate myth from logic in Plato, or metaphor from analysis in Wittgenstein, so would one see that poetry and philosophy are intertwined in Tagore. It is not so because he is a poet. A poet indeed is he, but no less a philosophizer, challenging the antagonism of art and science, the logico-mathematical paradigm of thought, and viewing philosophical knowledge in a closer relationship to what art insight reveals about Being and human existence. Tagore thinks on an astonishing diversity of themes. To read him is also to linger before this or that idea, and risk thinking on one's own account. And, above all, Tagore's message is important at a time when everything is being undermined by a suicidal hedonism and dazed by the ranting of demagogues. He calls for a new evaluation of life, an awareness of life as transcendence into the affirmation of a free relationship to the world. This is liberation, not from, but to the world perceived as the laughter of Siva. May be, this is what we need most today.
About the Author:
Pabitrakumar Roy is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Bengal. He has been teaching Philosophy for over three decades having begun at Visva-Bharati. He had his education at home and abroad, and has authored several books and scores of papers. He has been Commonwealth Fellow at the universities of Cambridge. Oxford and Reading; Fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; and a Visiting Professor at the University of Poona.
About the Series:
The Philosophical concepts and categories associated with Sankhya, Vaisesika, carvaka, Jaina, and Bauddha systems are as old as the Vedas. However, the formulation of different systems must have taken place later on. Unfortunately, we do not know about the historical development of these ideas prior to the systematic presentation of them in the form of sutras (aphorisms) which serve as the basic text for each of these schools. Because of the brevity of the sutras, it is difficult to understand the sutra-work without the help of a commentary. Then came the commentaries and sub-commentaries of various kinds on the texts, all of them being interconnected starting from the basic sutra text. Texts, both expository and polemical, were written defending the basic doctrines of each system and also criticizing the views of other systems; and these texts are also commentaries.
A commentary is much more than an exegesis. It is also creative while doing the work of interpretation. The text taken up for interpretation has a context or horizon of its own; the interpreter, too, has a horizon of his/her own. The interaction between the two horizons is a basic element in every kind of interpretation. This interaction between the two horizons, which goes on whenever a text is explained, "enriches" the text and makes it both purportful and purposive. So a commentary is as much original as the text it is commenting on. Indian philosophy was built and developed, strengthened and shaped by the commentarial tradition.
Contemporary Indian philosophy, academic as well as non-academic, have enriched the tradition in several ways. Like classical commentators, they are "builders" of Indian philosophy in the two areas of pure and applied philosophy. The monographs in this series called "Builders of Indian Philosophy" are intended to elucidate and highlight their contribution to Indian Philosophy.
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