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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explains why aspects of the social philosophy of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) deserve sustained philosophical attention. Ambedkar lays bare the paradoxical relationship between the hegemony of Manu’s superman as an ideal and its logical opposite or repulsive real. Ambedkar asks the core question: if the Hindu ideal is ritually hierarchical rather than egalitarian, why is that it has so many supporters among the lower castes? The chapter’s final section discusses what constitutes Ambedkar’s conception of modern moral idealism, and what is the nature of constructivism that he seems to be invoking to envision a counter-ideal, the claim that moral and social ideals are to be constructed and are not pre-givens. Modern moral idealism is the framework within which it becomes possible for members of one group to develop a moral motivation to enter a struggle in favor of those not in that group.

Keywords: hegemony, emancipation, retroactive illusion, moral constructivism, Sanskritization, moral idealism, Arahat, Shudra, Bhudeo

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