Scott R. StroudJun 3, 2023
The Evolution of Pragmatism in India
Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction
University of Chicago 2023
Scott R. Stroud's The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction (U Chicago Press, 2023) is a philosophical engagement with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s life and works through his intellectual engagement with Deweyan Pragmatism. His exploratory research has engaged with significant moments of Dr. Ambedkar’s life and it has analyzed how they were reconstitutive and reconstructive of John Dewey’s pragmatist tradition.
While many of the biographical accounts have explored different facets of Ambedkar’s life, this work has uniquely positioned Ambedkar’s life journey through a philosophical and intellectual lens. The book has a rich archival linkage, as well as it brings analytical appendage to think over what guided Ambedkar’s thoughts and his anti-caste discourse. While the work gives significant philosophical insights, it also opens up questions as to what extent can Ambedkar’s pragmatism be considered unique and exclusive. Or was Ambedkar’s “Rhetorical Pragmatism”, was merely an extended thought of Dewey’s philosophy itself?
The book is important in developing Ambedkar as a philosopher and thinker besides being an anti-caste leader. Today when Ambedkar is misappropriated and misread to fit into a pre-fixed agenda it is important to look back into his intellectual biography and what were the intellectual paradigm through which his thoughts actually evolved. The book through a dense philosophical argument has actually tried to do that. It is an enriched discursive conversation about the significant life moments of Ambedkar and how it connects with Deweyan Pragmatism.
Kalyani Kalyani is a sociologist and currently teaches at School of Arts and Sciences in Azim Premji University at Bengaluru.