Diagnostic Account of Imperial History and Thought
Soumyabrata Choudhury
THE INFINITE DOUBLE: PERSONS/THINGS: EMPIRE/ECONOMY by Rahul Govind Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, 2015, 563 pp., 750
December 2015, volume 39, No 12

A book with so formidable a scope as Rahul Govind’s The Infinite Double: Persons/Things/Empire/Economy cannot be limited to a critique. And if it’s salutary ethical tonality doesn’t determine its explicit intellectual object while also not being a mere critique of imperialism, then what sort of a book is it? In my view, Rahul Govind has written an extraordinary diagnostic account of imperial history and thought. So what differentiates a diagnosis from a critique? While the latter presents the general conditions for individual phenomena, a diagnostic identification of phenomena involves three features: an analysis of causes in the depth of time, i.e., an etiology; a nomination of the present constellation of phenomena so as to convert the ‘symptoms’ into an ‘object’ i.e., a performativity; and a prognosis of the future of the object based on the reading of the symptoms or ‘signs’ of the present, i.e., a semiotic. Thus we are mobilized from a limited philosophical project of identifying the universal limits of historical interpretations to an infinitely modulated ‘historico-medical’ method whose amplitude extends the historico-philosophical—this Rahul Govind makes possible with an erudition and intensity that, to my mind, was hitherto unattempted in recent scholarship.

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