Method of Criticism: Inferior vs Preferred

A critic of my Ramayana research wrote recently….


“The planetary position on November 29, 12,240 BCE, as informed by you, does not correspond to the planetary positions given by Valmiki for the birth-date of Lord Ram. Thus the date November 29, 12,240 BCE cannot be the date of Lord Ram.”


This is not unlike, if someone had written about Newton’s theory of Gravity


“The variation in the orbit of Mercury, as predicted by Newton’s theory of Gravity does not agree with the observations of the orbital variation of Mercury. Thus, Newton’s theory can not be correct”.

Of course, I have clearly stated that not only mine, but date proposed for Rama-Janma, by any other researcher of Ramayana (e.g. Vartak, Bhatnagar or SRS) does not corresponds to planetary positions given in Valmiki Ramayana for the birth-date of Rama.

I have also suggested alternate interpretation, besides asking future researchers to test the entire ‘Epoch of Ramayana’ from 10,000 BCE through 17500 BCE for such a combination of planets and when found to test rest of Ramayana observations for such a timing.
————
I wrote above to describe an inferior method of criticism. Of course, critic above is not the only one guilty in use of this inferior method.

If one looks at history of advocacy and controversy, we will find many geniuses are guilty of this inferior method.

For example, Voltaire comes to mind.

Voltaire’s approach has been to seek and attack the weak points in an opponent’s case.

This approach has severe disadvantage. Each theory, proposal or a case has both weaker and stronger aspects. And the appeal of such a theory/proposal/case lies in its stronger parts.

Thus to attack the weaker points of a given theory/proposal may embarrass its adherents (or original proponent/researcher/creator), but not undermine the consideration on which its adherents admire.

This is one of the reason (besides many others) why people so rarely change their views after losing an argument. More often such a reverse leads eventually to a strengthening of their position.

Alternately, the Popperian analysis (For good illustration of this.. read his “The Open Society – Volume I and II) aims to seek out and attack an opponent’s case at its strongest. In fact, before attacking, one should strengthen it in all possible ways by finding ways to remove any of its weaknesses and by trying to improve any of its formulations by giving it the benefit of every doubt, by passing over any obvious loopholes.

Once we state opponent’s case in the best-argued form, then we should get into the criticism of its most powerful and appealing aspects.

This method, the most intellectually serious possible (Rajiv Malhotra might state this as – do the Purva Paksha first), is thrilling, and its results, when successful, are devastating (of course for the theory/proposal/case of an opponent).

This is because no perceptible version of the defeated case is ‘resurrectable’ or ‘reconstructable’ in the light of the criticism since every known resource and reserve of substance being already present in the demolished version.

This is what, in my humble opinion, I have done for Raghavan/Achar proposal of 3067 BCE as the year of Mahabharata War (on this very blog). I have done the same for Bhatnagar/Saroj Bala proposal of 5114 BCE for Ramayana (in my book – The Historic Rama)

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