Volume 6, Issue 1, 2019
A Hegelian Reading of Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. I, to Philosophically Expound Ambedkar’s Critique of Caste in his 1932 “Statement of Gandhji’s Fast”
This paper will attempt a Hegelian reading of Derrida’s Beast and the Sovereign Vol 1 lectures to unpack certain apories and paradoxes in Ambedkar’s brief 1932 statement on modern India’s founding figure, Gandhi. In that small text Ambedkar is critical of Gandhi’s seemingly saintly attempt at fasting himself to death. Ambedkar diagnoses that Gandhi’s act of self-sacrifice conceals a type of subtle coercion of certain political decisions during India’s independent movement from British colonialism. In order to unpack philosophical assumptions in Ambedkar’s statement, this paper examines Derrida’s startlingly original insights into animality, law, and sovereignty in confronting two of the Western tradition’s giants in political philosophy, namely Hobbes and Schmitt. My intuition is that Derridean deconstruction can be expanded further by deploying certain Hegelian resources. My ultimate aim is to show how Western notions of man, soul, God, the sovereign, and the state begin to dissolve when examining the Hindu metaphysical cosmology of the caste system. My thesis and concluding reflections argue that only by destroying that cosmological system of politico-metaphysical inequality can a true democratic notion of the sovereign state emerge in the Indian context.