What is Indian knowledge good for?

Prof. Sheldon Pollock 

The video below is from Prof. Sheldon Pollock ‘s 2014 lecture in Mumbai titled, “What is Indian Knowledge good for?” Here Prof. Sheldon Pollock  explains how there is a global crises where the functionality of knowledge has gained relevance, forcing certain knowledge systems towards devaluation.

“Indian knowledge, like Greek knowledge, like Hebrew knowledge, is important because it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t do anything. You cannot put a price on it. Kids today know the price of everything and the value of nothing…

What does the study of ancient India help you understand? That there are things you cannot buy, there are things you cannot turn into a profit, there are things you do not instrumentalise…

We do not study ancient Indian past to find the cure for cancer in a Vedic text. There is no cure for cancer in a Vedic text, there’s no recipe for cold fusion in the Veda. Knowing something about the past is radically non-instrumental if I can put it that way. We do not solve problems, we make problems, we, people who study such things, raise ontological questions, questions about your existence as a human being…

It’s where we’re nearest to our humanness. Useless knowledge for its own sake. Useful knowledge is good, too, but it’s for the faint-hearted, an elaboration of the real thing, which is only to shine some light, it doesn’t matter where on what, it’s the light itself, against the darkness, it’s what’s left of god’s purpose when you take god away.”

View the entire speech here:

This post is also available in: elΕλληνικα (Greek)