Lokavidya and Ordinary Life
- Unconditional knowledge and unconditional life is lokavidya and ordinary life. Lokavidya is the knowledge with the people which changes with their experience, needs, change of ethical and aesthetic contexts and so on. It incorporates their way of thinking, principles of organisation, mode of abstraction etc. It is made up of a body of information, practices, techniques, expertise and what have you. There is nothing in lokavidya which is not changeable. It grows with ordinary life, gels with it and never dies, because ordinary life never dies. Ordinary life is life without condition. It assumes no science, no technology, no religion, no methods of organisation and communication of knowledge, it assumes nothing. It is not true, austere or moral life, for there is falsehood, extravaganza and immorality in ordinary life. But it has the criteria of truth, morality, justice, wisdom etc. in it.
- Lokavidya constitutes the epistemic strength of the people. It is constituted of those traditions of knowledge which refuse to die and produce ever new modes of subsistence, innovation and growth under oppression, marginalisation or distortion by alien intervention. Ironically they die out if the bearers of these traditions become expansionist, colonisers and oppressors. This is a kind of socio-epistemic law. So lokavidya is an inexhaustible source of strength of the people. The chief value associated with lokavidya is that of ordinary life. Not austere life, not simple life, just ordinary life. From the twin concepts of lokavidya and ordinary life we can proceed to develop concepts which would enable us to build emancipatory resistance both in the epistemic realm and the realm of physical activity.
- The new ruling classes are emerging and organising themselves with knowledgeat the center of theory and practice, knowledge management being the most prized (and priced ) theoretical as well as practical activity. This makes the digital divide a radical knowledge divide, for the other side consists mainly of knowledge in society, lokavidya, which is expected increasingly to assimilate science and religious knowledge into it as it engages itself in struggle across the digital divide.
- We do not assume that one or other form of knowledge can not contribute to development of emancipatory politics, for we think that knowledge can not essentially be limited. Every concept, piece of information and even method of inference of a type of knowledge may be limited (say by its historical roots, cultural or regional genesis and application or by embodying elements of some specific cosmology etc.), but knowledge per se is not limited in any of its locations. So what is proposed is a dialogue between all locations of knowledge. Lokavidya and ordinary life constitute our normative framework for this dialogue between various streams of knowledge, locations of knowledge. Since lokavidya and ordinary life are not just primary expressions of people’s knowledge and life but also constitute the primary sources of strength of the people, therefore the normative framework of lokavidya and ordinary life radically favours political formations for emancipation of the people from the digital divide.
- Lokavidya standpoint is the people’s standpoint in the Age of Information. To say that there exist so many respectable and genuin traditions of knowledge is not to say that some or all of them have answers to people’s problems and a sufficiently wide basis for reconstructing the world differently. To say that lokavidya and ordinary life reinforce, enliven, protect and move each other is not to say that they are complete unto themselves and the ideology they may spin out has recepies for reconstruction of the world. It is only to say that they constitute our starting point, constant reference and also the ultimate criteria. Lokavidya standpoint is the standpoint of truth and justice in the Age of Information . It enables us to fight against falsehood imposed upon the world in the name of a future global and connected world, courtesy Globalization and Knowledge Management. It enables our struggles to last out because it enables us to think differently. What is common between Islamic resisters, Gandhians, Marxists and innumerable local traditions and formations in their resistance and campaign against American expansion? It is their commitment to the interest of the people and to justice. This commitment is rooted in the respective traditions of thought and knowledge. Lokavidya standpoint is the standpoint of respect to these traditions of knowledge and many more. Peoples struggles alone shall transform these traditions into new contemporary versions able to challenge the basis of the present society and hold a promise for a realizable different world.