The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction (Paperback)

The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction By Scott R. Stroud Cover Image

The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction (Paperback)


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The story of how the Indian reformer Bhimrao Ambedkar reimagined John Dewey’s pragmatism.
In The Evolution of Pragmatism in India, Scott R. Stroud delivers a comprehensive exploration of the influence of John Dewey’s pragmatism on Bhimrao Ambedkar, architect of the Republic of India’s constitution. Stroud traces Ambedkar’s development in Dewey’s Columbia University classes in 1913–1916 through his final years in 1950s India when he rewrote the story of Buddhism. Stroud examines pragmatism’s influence not only on the philosophical ideas underpinning Ambedkar’s fight against caste oppression but also how his persuasive techniques drew on pragmatism’s commitment to reconstruction and meliorism. At the same time, Stroud is careful to point out the ways that Ambedkar pushed back against Dewey’s paradigm and developed his own approach to challenges in India. The result is a nuanced study of one of the most important figures in Indian history.
Scott R. Stroud is associate professor of communication studies and program director for media ethics at the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of John Dewey and the Artful Life and Kant and the Promise of Rhetoric, as well as the co-founder of India’s first Center for Dewey Studies at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226824321
ISBN-10: 0226824322
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: March 17th, 2023
Pages: 320
"The book is indeed very persuasive that to fully understand Ambedkar, one must understand his relationship with Dewey. . . . it is hard to imagine a more careful and compelling exploration."
— LSE Review of Books

“A work of scholarship that shows the global relevance of pragmatism in the 20th Century introduces the fascinating philosophy of Ambedkar to a non-Indian audience, and provides an entry for further scholarship on this profound thinker and activist. . . . Stroud’s book is groundbreaking.”
— Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society

"Ambedkar’s intellectual inheritance has been delved into like seldom before. . . . The significance of the text must be considerable within both Ambedkarite scholarship and in other disciplines which seek to look into the various issues of social conflict/cohesion and understand them in terms of socio-political operations of force."
— Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics

“Ambedkar was one of the greatest legal and political thinkers of the twentieth century, but his thought is barely known in the United States. With wide-ranging research and insightful philosophical probing, Stroud shows that Ambedkar, using Dewey’s works as a fulcrum, created a distinctive form of Buddhist pragmatism, committed to meliorist social dialogue, non-anger, and the flexible pursuit of social democracy. A major achievement.”
— Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago

“In this meticulously researched book, Stroud positions Ambedkar’s engagement with Dewey’s thought as a defining moment in the global history of American pragmatism. The Evolution of Pragmatism in India is a major contribution to Ambedkar studies, which enlarges our methodological repertoire for approaching this foundational thinker of caste inequality.”
— Anupama Rao, Columbia University

"Stroud’s in-depth exploration of the influence of Dewey’s pragmatism on Ambedkar’s thought not only allows us to comprehend the positions that Ambedkar took but also, equally, to appreciate the compromises he made in his policy engagement for Dalit empowerment from 1919 to 1956."
— Sukhadeo Thorat, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies

“In this carefully researched and skillfully presented work, Stroud examines Ambedkar’s adoption of a revivified Buddhism and Dewey’s pragmatism as tools for his struggle against the Hindu caste system. By expanding our understanding of the global potentials of pragmatism, Stroud has made a major contribution to East-West scholarship.”
— Larry A. Hickman, Center for Dewey Studies