Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 260
In a way the better the master, the worse the condition of slave, because it makes him forget what he is.
In this quote, the narrator characterizes the master-slave relationship of colonial history, generalizing it from the particular history of Asian colonization to a universal feature. The "better" master (his ironic term for "more effective" yet less humane), paradoxically manages to negate the slave's suffering by minimizing his ability to form an identity.
But if it were true that his life had somehow been molded by acts of power of which he was unaware—then it would follow that he had never acted of his own volition; never had a moment of true self-consciousness. Everything he had ever assumed about himself was a lie, an illusion. And if this were so, how was he to find himself now?
Here, the narrator questions whether Rajkumar's fate was open or deterministic in nature as he moved throughout Asia. He has an insight that many people believe themselves to be acting freely, but are really obeying unseen patterns created for them by systemic regimes of power.
To use the past to justify the present is bad enough—but it’s just as bad to use the present to justify the past.
Here, the narrator remarks on a logical fallacy he sees in modern life: the tendency to misuse the metaphors of the present as logical tautologies for moral justifications of the past. He conceives of this as the inversion of the pre-modern form of moral justification, which used tradition to justify future action.
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