India witnessed a powerful protest for last few weeks since November 2, 2014 namely ‘Kiss of Love’. This is a protest where people kiss in public to register their protest against moral policing. Many of the supporters of Kiss of Love protest (hence forth KoL) has referred to elements of the tradition: the sculptures in Khajurāho temples, texts such as Kāmasutra, Gitā Govinda, religious gatherings such as Kumbha mela etc. to make a point in arguments. They points out that all these elements of tradition which mentioned above indicates that emphasis on sexuality, nudity, eroticism etc. are part of the tradition (by presuming that art and literature often reflects tendencies in traditions/cultures).
Is it the case that though they -these supporters of KoL- seemingly opposing the moral policing of Hindutva, they are implicitly exhibiting a commitment to Hinduism, if not to Hindutva, by referring to elements of tradition? Some seem to think so. Do you think so? I do not think so: I do not think that the fact that many of the supporters of KoL has referred to some such elements of tradition indicates their commitment to tradition, Hinduism, or Hindutva. Why do I say that?
Please consider 2 types of arguments related to the Kol:
1. Argument from tradition (AFT): Many who opposes KoL, has argued that activities such as expression of affection in public is not in compliance with our (Indian) tradition. Therefore KoL is not acceptable. Let me call this argument as ‘argument from tradition’ (AFT).
2. Argument from internal contradiction (AIC): Many who supports KoL points out that the AFT (‘argument from tradition’ mentioned above), is fraught with difficulties. This is because of the fact that there are elements in the tradition itself which will undercut AFT by resulting in a contradiction . Let me call this argument as Argument from internal contradiction (AIC).
Some who have discussed about KoL, it seems to me, have invoked the following argument: those who present AIC (Argument from internal contradiction) are committed to tradition in a disguised manner. Many supporters of KoL have invoked, AIC. Therefore, they conclude, many supporters of KoL are committed to tradition. As far as I can see, such a conclusion does not logically follow. One can clearly see that such a conclusion does not follow, if one construes and examines the premises of the argument carefully.
Please consider the following:
Suppose R holds Tb, a theory T about b. How does someone else, let us say K, criticise R for holding Tb? Two important techniques to do it are the following:
Case1: First technique is: show that if R were to consider Xb, another theory X about b, then R can no longer hold Tb rationally (Showing this will involve to show that in some important way Xb undermine Tb).
Case 2: Second technique is: show that if R were to consider the details of Tb, then R will see that there are propositions t1 and t2 within the theory Tb which are contradictory. Thus R can no longer hold Tb rationally.
In the above mentioned two techniques of criticising a theory, the latter is stronger than the former. This is so because:
(a) In case 1, R can (rationally) say that (s)he does not believe Xb (the alternate theory) and does not take it seriously (due to reason z).
(b) In case 2, R cannot (rationally) say that (s)he does not believe in t1 or t2 and thus does not take it/them seriously. R cannot (rationally) say this since t1 and t2 are subsets of the set Tb to which R is committed.
The second approach criticises the theory Tb in its own terms. The first approach criticises the theory Tb in terms of/ by making use of some other theory. Criticising a theory in its own terms is stronger than criticising a theory in terms of/making use of other theories. That is to say that case 2 is stronger than case 1. It is stronger since, in this case the advocate of the theory cannot defend by saying that (s)he does not believe in t1 or t2 (since, as I already mentioned above, t1 and t2 are subsets of the theory Tb to which R is committed to). That explains, I believe, as to why case 2 is stronger than case 1.
Illegitimate charge on the critic: While the critic K points out the contradictory nature of t1 and t2, K need not be committed to t1, t2, or Tb. Thus, the claim that K is committed to Tb does not logically follow from the fact that (s)he has referred to t1 and/or t2. Claiming that K has a commitment to Tb is to make a (logically) illegitimate charge against K. (It very well can be the case that K is indeed committed to Tb, but the point here is, one cannot make this claim on the basis of the kind of argument provided . One needs some other argument(s) to show that indeed K is committed to Tb)
Unfortunately, in many of the discussions on KoL, I am afraid, this ‘illegitimate charge on the critic’ (which is mentioned above) is presumed. Once such scenario is as follows: many of the supporters of KoL has pointed out that, the sculptures in Khajurāho temples, texts such as Kāmasutra, Geetā Govindam, religious gatherings such as Kumbh mela, etc. are also part of the tradition which the proponents of AFT (Argument from tradition) invokes. But these elements of tradition are explicit in describing sexuality, nudity, eroticism etc.
That is to say that there are elements in the tradition itself -which AFT invokes- that will undercut the claim made by AFT: the claim that activities such as expression of affection in public, emphasis on sexuality, nudity etc. is not in compliance with our (Indian) tradition. They (some of the supporters of KoL) were simply pointing out that all these elements of tradition which mentioned above indicates that emphasis on sexuality, nudity, eroticism etc. are very much an acceptable part of the tradition (by presuming that art and literature often reflects tendencies in traditions/cultures). That is to say that invoking AFT to criticise KoL is fraught with difficulties. Pointing out this problem of AFT no way implies (logically) that the one who points out these elements of tradition is committed to the tradition or any of its subsets: it does not logically follow.
That is to say that if K points out t1 or/and t2, It does not imply that K is committed to Tb, t1 or t2. When a KoL supporter points out elements in tradition such as the above mentioned ones -(the sculptures in Khajurāho temples, texts such as Kāmasutra, Geetā Govindam, religious gatherings such as Kumbha mela etc.)- (s)he is making the argument namely AIC (Argument from Internal Contradiction) against AFT (argument from tradition).
As I already explained, AIC is a stronger argumentative technique (because of reason ‘a’ and ‘b’ that I already elaborated) than many other techniques (such as Case 1 that I explained). That shows in what way referring to the elements of tradition such as the above mentioned kind is an important argumentative strategy against AFT.
That makes it clear that the supporters of KoL who refers to elements of the tradition to points out the contradiction in AFT no way are (logically) implying that they (the supporter of KoL) are committed to the tradition, Hindusim or Hindutva in any explicit or implicit manner. To deny this, which unfortunately many seem to have done, I am afraid, is to violate basic rules of reasoning.