Now that he has died, the preparation feels insufficient: the uneasiness remains. I suspect you feel it as well: how to speak about a writer whose work has been meaningful—–in my case, profoundly so; I could not imagine my life without it—–as well as a source of frustration or real pain. I have admired Naipaul as much as I have found him difficult to admire, a murky admixture that I find difficult to explain or clarify, and which I find with no other writer, to anything like the same degree.
‘Mill believed that even when you know something, defending your argument against sceptics will heighten the justification for your belief,’ Srinivasan explains. ‘I think the opposite can happen, particularly in cases where there’s deep practical disagreement coupled with power differentials.’ She gives the case of a black person who has knowledge that the cops in his town are racist in virtue of his interactions with them but, when pushed by a sceptic, is unable to counter every argument with which he is presented. Srinivasan thinks such a person is ‘at risk of losing his knowledge’, not because his evidence is defeated or he loses his justification, but because he might feel psychologically that he needs to give up his view.