Are Dialogues Antidotes to Violence? Two Recent Examples from Hinduism Studies

S.N. Balagangadhara, Sarah Claerhout


One of the convictions in religious studies and elsewhere is about the role dialogues play: by fulfilling the need for understanding, dialogues reduce violence. In this paper, we analyze two examples from Hinduism studies to show that precisely the opposite is true: dialogue about Hinduism has become the harbinger of violence. This is not because ‘outsiders’ have studied Hinduism or because the Hindu participants are religious ‘fundamentalists’ but because of the logical requirements of such a dialogue. Generalizing the structure of this situation, we argue that, in certain dialogical situations, the requirements of reason conflict with the requirements of morality.


Inter-religious Dialogue; Argumentation Theory; Religious Violence; Hinduism Studies

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