Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Human agency—will, person, judgment, action

Exordium: Modernity’s Gaze

The young man’s forlorn, abstracted, and blank gaze suggests disorientation and incipient melancholy: we cannot meet his eyes, and they will not meet ours. Indeed, the beholder of Lorenzo Lotto’s canvas may feel somewhat flustered, as though he or she had accidentally intruded on a scene of intensely personal, albeit ineffable anguish. For Lotto’s young man, whose identity remains unknown, seems...

Part I: Prolegomena

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Chapter 1: Frameworks or Tools?: On the Status of Concepts in Humanistic Inquiry

This is a study of two closely related concepts—“will” and “person”— which have proven indispensable to Western humanistic inquiry and its ongoing, albeit enormously diverse, attempts to develop a satisfactory account of human agency. More implicitly, what follows is also a study of our changed relationship to concepts and, hence, to the nature, purpose, and responsibility of thinking and...
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Chapter 2: Forgetting by Remembering: Historicism and the Limits of Modern Knowledge

To return once more to Heidegger’s notion of the modern Weltbild, it appears that yet another change wrought by the age of the “world picture” concerns a thoroughgoing shift in the form, function, and scope of narrative. The structure of narrative mutates from the mnemonic to the emancipatory, from the genre of epic to that of utopia, and from an evolving, deepening, and transformative engagement...
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Chapter 3: “A large mental field”: Intellectual Traditions and Responsible Knowledge after Newman

Leo Strauss’s critique leaves us with the impression of modern historicism as above all a distancing technique, driven by modernity’s visceral fear of the unknown and its consequent resistance to any transcendent or otherwise heteronymous authority. Echoing and elaborating Strauss’s view, Hans-Georg Gadamer was to argue that “our usual relationship to the past is not characterized by distancing...

Part II: Rational Appetite: An Emergent Conceptual Tradition

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Chapter 4: Beginnings: Desire, Judgment, and Action in Aristotle and the Stoics

If there is a single aspect of modernity that sets it apart from classical and Scholastic thought, it is the supposition that the spheres of human knowledge and human action, theoretical and practical rationality, are fundamentally distinct and possibly altogether unrelated. Such a partitioning of the order of fact from that of value and of cognition from willing, which eventually finds its consummate...
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Chapter 5: Consolidation: St. Augustine on Choice, Sin, and the Divided Will

To understand the adaptation of ancient philosophical concepts to changed social and intellectual purposes, what Hans Blumenberg calls their “reoccupation,” one has to be mindful of how intricately that history is enmeshed with issues of translation. In the case of the will, translation holds particular significance because it is only by transposing and reconfiguring hekousionboulēsiseph’hemin, and prohairesis...
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Chapter 6: Rational Appetite and Good Sense: Will and Intellect in Aquinas

The intellectual dimension so prevalent in Aristotle’s account of “choice”— yet crucially fused with Augustine’s metaphysics of grace—was to find its consummate articulation in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, particularly in his discussion of the will in the so-called “Treatise on Man” and at the beginning of the Prima Secundae. Unlike in Aristotle’s ethics, the will now presents itself in the two distinct...
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Chapter 7: Rational Claims, Irrational Consequences: Ockham Disaggregates Will and Reason

If analogical predication is perceived to be an unacceptable constraint on human cognition by Aquinas’s successors, this is because they operate with a fundamentally weakened sense of obligation and responsibility that the knowledge bears to its objects of inquiry. Already in Duns Scotus’s mystical speculations about the “univocity of Being,” it is palpable how “talk of analogy … became marginal rather than...

Part III: Progressive Amnesia: Will and the Crisis of Reason

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Chapter 8: Impoverished Modernity: Will, Action, and Person in Hobbes’s Leviathan

At times a terror, Leviathan has always been an enigma on account of an innate tendency of instrumental reason to turn into its other, rather in the spirit of William Blake’s dictum that “Opposition is true friendship.” Embodying those very terrors of irrational strife that it had been designed to keep at bay, the Hobbesian state thus peremptorily seizes all possible venues from which it might be materially...
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Chapter 9: The Path toward Non-Cognitivism: Locke’sDesire and Shaftesbury’s Sentiment

Beginning with the early Enlightenment, particularly in the writings of Locke, Mandeville, and Montesquieu, and culminating in the hybridization of moral and economic theory in Francis Hutcheson, Smith, Ferguson, John Millar, and James Steuart, we can observe a strategic shift in social theory that promises, if not to remedy, then at least to contain the apparent irrationality of the Hobbesian will. As...
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Chapter 10: From Naturalism to Reductionism: Mandeville’s Passion and Hutcheson’s Moral Sense

Before exploring how Shaftesbury’s “moral sense” theory is consolidated by Francis Hutcheson and, eventually, critiqued in Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, some consideration will have to be given to Mandeville’s revival of Locke’s anti-metaphysical conception of the will, viz., as a strictly empirical and unrelentingly hedonistic “passion.” First published in 1714, his Fable of the Bees greatly...
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Chapter 11: Mindless Desires and Contentless Minds: Hume’s Enigma of Reason

What Hutcheson is unable to do is to imagine how the self might advance from a strictly apperceptive relation to countless instances of affection to a reasoned and continuous sense of moral agency. To be sure, on Hutcheson’s account the self knows itself to be experiencing specific types of affect at specific moments in time, but it no longer appears to know anything else. The gap between the certitude of the...
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Chapter 12: Virtue without Agency: Sentiment, Behavior, and Habituation in A. Smith

Throughout the Theory of Moral Sentiments, there is a marked reversal of emphasis, away from the drama of volatile and non-cognitive passions and toward reaffirming the continuity of a different type of affect. The course correction here takes the form of retranslating the passions—not back into a metaphysics of the will, to be sure—but into a firmly empirical, at times seemingly actuarial understanding...
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Chapter 13: After Sentimentalism: Liberalism and the Discontents of Modern Autonomy

Two major problems now begin to emerge, both of acute concern for the Romantics and, uniquely so, for the later Coleridge. First, it is apparent that, far from being an ontology and “source” of meaning, reason by the late eighteenth century is separating from the interiorist framework that, since St. Augustine, had revolved around a rich pallet of human intentionality that includes notions of will, deliberation...

Part IV: Retrieving the Human: Coleridge on Will, Person, and Conscience

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Chapter 14: Good or Commodity?: Modern Knowledge and the Loss of Eudaimonia

The strain of late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literary and philosophical narrative briefly indexed here reveals a metaphysical deficit intrinsic to modern liberalism—a deficit certainly unacknowledged, if not outright repressed, and hence steadily more pressing and crippling for the modern individual. The writings in question show the Enlightenment unable to grasp the challenge posed by...
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Chapter 15: The Persistence of Gnosis: Freedom and “Error” in Philosophical Modernity

Coleridge’s imaginative tabulation of the “costs of modernity,” already on display in some of his poetry but much more expansively in his prose writings beginning with The Friend (1808), marks the beginning of a turn, in both philosophy and poetics, away from instrumental and pragmatic models of rationality and toward the (mostly negative) knowledge of history as one all-pervading miscarriage....
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Chapter 16: Beyond Voluntarism and Deontology: Coleridge’s Notion of the Responsible Will

At this point, we can begin to delve into some of Coleridge’s late prose in order to draw out a number of related conceptual shifts for which the Mariner’s defining act of skepticism furnishes an early and vivid dramatization. Central to this discussion are the concepts of will, person, and conscience—all of them profoundly inter-related in Coleridge’s late writings. Beginning around 1804, Coleridge posits as...
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Chapter 17: Existence before Substance: The Idea of “Person” in Humanistic Inquiry

Few terms call more urgently for a deep-historical archeology and for patient “desynonymization” (to use Coleridge’s term of art) from “subject,” self,” or “individual” than that of “person.” To embark on tracing the term’s genesis and progressive clarification is to encounter a vivid example of what John Henry Newman would subsequently conceptualize as the “development” of an idea—a process of...
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Chapter 18: Existence as Reality and Act: Person, Relationality, and Incommunicability

If one searches back for the moment where rationality of this more-than-calculative kind first enters the definition of the human person, an early and seminal text turns out to be a tract by Boethius (A.D. 480–524), directed against the symmetrical fallacies of monophysitism and dophysitism.Against Eutyches and Nestorius did much to resolve the perplexities over the relation between person and nature that...
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Chapter 19: “Consciousness has the appearance of another”: On Relationality as Love

There are at least three discrete models that Samuel Taylor Coleridge develops by way of articulating the intrinsic relatedness of the human person. A first has to do with the love between human beings and the question of whether the insistence of (potentially unilateral) desire negates or is compatible with personhood. A notebook entry of October 1820 frames the question as follows: “Is true genuine...
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Chapter 20: “Faith is fidelity … to the conscience”: Coleridge’s Ontology

Like most of those who, since late antiquity, participated in the ongoing clarification of person as an ontological idea, Coleridge emphasizes that the reality of the human being depends on an act of “recognition.” Beginning with his sharply worded, though always carefully reasoned arguments against the practice of slavery, Coleridge had understood “recognition” not merely as some abstract metaphysical...

Works Cited


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About the Author, Praise

Thomas Pfau is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English and professor of German at Duke University, with a secondary appointment on the Duke Divinity School faculty. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1790–1840.

Minding the Modern

Human Agency, Intellectual Traditions, and Responsible Knowledge

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sri Aurobindo as a poet, scholar, and thinker

How to benefit from Sri Aurobindo

Tusar Nath Mohapatra at Savitri Era 
Left or Right, Centre or Subaltern; Sri Aurobindo is the most sought after voice to cut through theoretical confusion 1. How to benefit from Sri Aurobindo is a complex topic but a few tips can be of help to those with open mind and tons of curiosity to learn. 2. The basic requirement is to be aware about Sri Aurobindo's life history in brief and remember the names of major books authored by him. 3. To look at Sri Aurobindo as a poet, scholar, and thinker at the outset is more profitable than as a Freedom fighter or Spiritual teacher. 4. Synthesising ancient and mo... more »

Ontology is a moot point if you are a theist

elisa freschi at The Indian Philosophy Blog 
A philosopher might end up having a double affiliation, to the philosophical standpoints shared by one’s fellow philosophers, and to the religious program of one’s faith. This can lead to difficult reinterpretations (such as that of Christ with the Neoplatonic Continue reading →

Sri Aurobindo and Yogi Vishnu Bhaskar Lele

Jitendra Sharma at Savitri Era Devotees 
(Sri Aurobindo and yogi Lele shut themselves away in house of  Khaserao Jarvi not letting anybody know it. [January 1908,  Baroda] Lele said to Sri Aurobindo to silent down his mind and  doing this Sri Aurobindo got realisation of silent Brahman.) (Here, in January 1908, Sri Aurobindo got fundamental  realisation of silent Brahman.)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sri Aurobindo, Maslow, Foucault, and Deleuze

Concerned Leftists Rediscover Michel Foucault Might Not Have Been As Anti-Market as They'd Like

Shimer College in the Guardian

Remember the West?
[reimagining how we construct our courses — so that Machiavelli can talk with Sun Tzu and Lenin without any presumption of “influence.”] ~AK

Here's a nice article on the pedagogy of New Age channeling:

Pre-print of my new article on Denominations, Differentiation, and Evolution now in Current Anthropology (w/o wall!).

I just uploaded 'Shults, "Iconoclastic Theology" & Barber, "Deleuze and the Naming of God" (Book...' to @academia!


Once More on Laissez-Faire and Adam Smith by Gavin Kennedy via Adam Smiths Lost Legacy (blog)

Mandeville and Smith: Adam Smith's Lost Legacy


@jborocz  Touche. Here is broad brush take on the decline of Europe, originally published in an Indian journal.

A game of world domination between five players (Japan, China, Russia, Europe, US) is becoming competitive.

Towards a human economy. Interview with Keith Hart in India's Economic & Political Weekly

Manifesto for a human economy The Memory Bank » Blog Archive

Paperback for Deleuze and the Naming of God

Lead: Confronting the right wing #RSS #BJP #Modi #Politics

Is secularism itself, its historical antecedents notwithstanding, a manifestation of the Christian worldview?

@ShashiTharoor on why caste won't disappear from India

Gandhi's challenge to India and America

@neha_aks @blog_supplement [5. Tell us some personal anecdotes about Shri Bagha Jatin]

Vivek Dehejia (@vdehejia) on the delusions of economists

The Siege Within : Hear it? Indian secularism is both enduring & audible:

7 things we need to change about Indian society:

News Analysis: Why ‘#Gita’ as Rashtriya Granth is problematic

भगवद् गीता राष्ट्रीय ग्रंथ कैसे बनेगी?

Seed of Grandeur On Poems of Sri Aurobindo

Conditions For a Synthesis of the Various Yogic Paths

The Philosophy of Religion by Rod Hemsell Reply w/ #AmazonCart for a free sample via @amazonIN

The Philosophy of Evolution by Rod Hemsell Reply w/ #AmazonCart for a free sample via @amazonIN

Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga Psychology & A. Maslow's Humanistic/transpersonal Psychology by Joseph Vrinte @amazonIN

#DCOpinion - The Gita doesn’t need government boost -

9th Dec.1950: Sri Aurobindo's physical sheath was laid to rest in Samadhi-vault #SriAurobindo -

Shant Prakash 'Jatav': Movement against reservation Movement Against Reservation - MAR

Essay on the Gita Diary 2015

Friday, November 21, 2014

Conscious union with the Invisible

People everywhere have aspired for a better world, but we are still far from the rosy visions of a utopian life. As the search for better systems and models continues, it is becoming clear that the lofty ideals rooted in religion, morality and ethics have been unsuccessful in the struggle to make the planet a better place. But what if it is not the systems and models themselves but something more fundamental that needs to be investigated? There is a growing awareness that the panacea to the problems ravaging our world is in a paradigm shift to spirituality. However, a fundamental confusion persists that equates spirituality with morality, idealism and religion.
It is therefore of topical importance that Dr. A. S. Dalal has chosen this moment to bring out a compilation titled Morality, Idealism, Religion and Yoga: The Meaning of Spirituality.
For skeptics, hesitant beginners, or muddled seekers to whom these might sound as empty words devoid of real-world experience, Sri Aurobindo assures us that “yoga is not a matter of theory or dogma…but a matter of experience. Its experience is that of a conscient universal and supracosmic Being with whom it brings us into union, and this conscious experience of union with the Invisible, always renewable and verifiable, is as valid as our conscious experience of a physical world and of visible bodies with whose invisible minds we daily communicate.” — Gautam Chatterjee

Clearly neither Capra nor Heisenberg anywhere had mentioned that the celebrated uncertainty principle was based on Vedas and Upanishads. So with no uncertainty, one can say that the minister is in the wrong, if he claimed that the Uncertainty Principle was based on Vedic or Upanishadic wisdom. But the name Heisenberg should bring more serious issues into the concern of people who frame the science curriculum. The way pre-Christian Greek philosophical traditions have influenced the development of modern physics in the West cannot be overstated. It was Werner Heisenberg who pointed out this continuity —  Aravindan Neelakandan

Daya Krishna’s “Creative Encounters with Texts” —  Posted on 17 November 2014 by elisa freschi 
Daya Krishna was an Indian philosopher, a rationalist and iconoclast, who constantly tried to question and scrutinise acquired “truths”. The main place for such investigations was for him a saṃvāda ‘dialogue’. That’s why he also strived to organise structured samvāda Continue reading →
Shail Mayaram, in the introduction of a book dedicated to Daya Krisna and Ramchandra Gandhi, Philosophy as Samvad and Svaraj adds some interesting information about the samvādas 

Beatrice Bruteau —  Cynthia Bourgeault  Nov. 21, 2014 
Those who had the privilege of working with her directly speak of the clarity and precision of her mind, the luminosity of her vision, and the down-to-earth practicality of her contemplative practice. 
Rigorously trained, she held two degrees in mathematics and a doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University. In addition to her highly articulate Christianity, she was also a longtime student of Vedanta and one of the early pioneers of East-West dialogue. She wrote books on Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and was one of the founders of the American Teilhard Association in 1967. Her most important works include Radical Optimism (1993), The Easter Mysteries (1995), What We Can Learn from the East (1995), and God's Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (1997). In all of these works, she brought her deep understanding of non-dual states of consciousness as well as her scientific training and rigor to the mysticism of the West.
Her passion was the study of evolutionary consciousness, and over the course of her long teaching career, she lived to see this passion come into its own as one of the most significant spiritual movements of our times. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pfau places Coleridge at the center

Imagine that you’ve been invited to play a game of cards with Thomas Pfau and his cards are called Justice, Reason, Beauty, Humanism, Purpose, and Value, while yours are called Interest, Materialism, Naturalism, Historicism, Value-Neutrality, attributes of a World without Grace and without Narrative. Who wins? But why should you let Pfau have all those cards, especially with names like Justice, Reason, and Beauty, or the names he adds later—“free choice, conscience, person, teleology…judgment…and, for that matter, art”; and why are you stuck with Interest and Materialism? This is a ... more »

Thomas Pfau’s book *Minding the Modern* is a book of immense scope. About half the work (parts II and III) consists of an ambitious historical genealogy. The other half (the prolegomena and part IV) presents a sustained philosophical argument about human personhood and moral agency. Although Pfau places the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at the center of his examination of modernity, the conceptual protagonist of the book is Thomas Aquinas, whose theory of moral agency is seen to afford a robust account of human freedom that is grounded in *rational* volition: free decisions based ... more »

Inchoate thought emerging from ongoing discussions I’ve had with my friend Duane Rousselle over the last couple of years. It seems to me that anarchist/communist political thought– at least as I conceive it (I could be completely misguided as to what both anarchism and communism are) –pull in two distinct directions, one normative and the […]

All theory takes place within an ecology of debates, theoretical frameworks, and concepts to which it responds and engages; as well as the historical situation, social system, institutions, etc., in which it is articulated. Yet while theory is always embedded in a set of relations in which it emerges, theoretical machines are peculiar sorts of […]

One of the key debates in Indian philosophy is what counts as a pramāna: an instrument of knowledge, a “reliable warrant”, a means of knowledge reliable enough that one can be reasonably confident to take its conclusions as true. What →

Anand Vaidya on 3 October 2014 at 12:40 am said: Hi Elisa,
Thanks for the comments. I will look into the aspects of classical Indian philosophy that you mention. I am very appreciative of any direction on this issue. As for your general question, I have a small comment on that one.
It looks to me as if one could argue that St. Anselm had no interest in the epistemology of modality. Some would even argue that he simply used the term ‘inconceivable’ to mean ‘logically impossible’ and as a consequence was not interested in how the mental operation of conceiving might relate to what is objectively possible or impossible. However, with Descartes and with Hume and Kant I think it is much harder to make the claim that they did not see themselves as interested in the primary questions in the epistemology of modality. Descartes, Arnauld, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Berkeley, Reid, and Mill all discuss a conceivability to possibility thesis, its role in metaphysics, and whether or not it is reliable. Many even suggest deep points that make it the case that the 20th century debate, at least in my opinion, has not gone beyond what they say.

In the spirit of Darwinian evolution, Henri Bergson, with this volume, makes the philosophical argument that morality and religion are the “natural” and necessary products of man’s evolution. With a look which extends back some 2,400 years to the ancient Greek philosophers, Bergson traces the evolution of man’s instinct, intelligence and intuition and shows how necessary their interactions were in the development of human societies, morality and religion and he looks ahead to the shapes they must take if man is to survive himself.

Sri Aurobindo’s multifaceted engagements will continue to occupy scholars in different fields. As one who belongs to a country that has begotten eminent theoreticians in the fields of literature, arts, linguistics, and aesthetics, Sri Aurobindo’s contribution deserves a dispassionate assessment. Volume 27 of the Complete Works contains his “Letters on Poetry and Art” which can be examined for the potential for a theory of poetry. As letters, they are informal responses. However, they are also responses to specific and thoughtfully worded questions from individuals who have engaged Sri Aurobindo in serious discussions on the issues concerning poetry and the arts. An Indian academic is forged in a system of education that is more Western, in character, than Indian. Hence, the present concern to explore the potential for a theory of poetry among Indian scholars and theoreticians.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

World's absurdity - human history is going nowhere

Schopenhauer's originality does not reside in his characterization of the world as Will, or as act — for we encounter this position in Fichte's philosophy — but in the conception of Will as being devoid of rationality or intellect.

An inspiration for Schopenhauer's view that ideas are like inert objects is George Berkeley, A primary inspiration for Schopenhauer's double-aspect view of the universe is Baruch Spinoza. A subsequent, but often highlighted inspiration is from the Upanishads, Schopenhauer's particular characterization of the world as Will, is nonetheless novel and daring. It is also frightening and pandemonic: there is no God to be comprehended, and the world is conceived of as being meaningless. 

Schopenhauer's influence has been strong among literary figures, which include poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists and historians such as Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, ... these authors were inspired by Schopenhauer's sense of the world's absurdity, either regarded in a more nihilistic and gloomy manner, or regarded in a more lighthearted, absurdist and comic manner.

Schopenhauer's ideas about the importance of instinctual urges at the core of daily life also reappeared in Freud's surrealism-inspiring psychoanalytic thought, and his conviction that human history is going nowhere, became keynotes within 20th century French philosophy, after two World Wars put a damper on the 19th century anticipations of continual progress that had captured the hearts of thinkers such as Hegel and Marx. [Stanford]

Hartmann credits Kant for having discovered the unconscious, but blames him for both not fully developing its consequences, and not fully appreciating its primacy in the working of the mind. In Hartmann’s mind this undervaluation of the unconscious is a constant in the history of western philosophy. In fact, Hartmann claims, that it is only Arthur Schopenhauer who began to fully appreciate the unconscious’ fundamental importance, that is, the predominance of what he called ‘will’. However, Arthur Schopenhauer, Hartmann claims, was blinded by his Eastern influences from fully comprehending how the unconscious functioned in the human realm.

Hartmann rejects Arthur Schopenhauer’s famous claim that this is the worst of possible worlds. His position, in fact, is closer to Leibniz’s, who claimed that this was the best of possible world. The difference between Hartmann and Leibniz, was that Hartmann despite viewing this world as the best possible one, nonetheless claimed that it was full of suffering and devoid of happiness. Moreover, Hartmann rejected Leibniz’s claim that evil is a privation, claiming instead that it is evil, which is manifest in the world. What’s more, Hartmann believed that this manifestation of evil is part of the world’s teleological trajectory, and consequently, he held that the world will end in total annihilation. For Hartmann, unlike Arthur Schopenhauer, this ultimate end is not properly tragic, as it is the almost calculated culmination of the crusade of the unconscious, embodied in the entirety of the human race. In fact, the ultimate self-annihilating end of the world is, Hartmann claimed, the highest expression of the unconscious. [EGS]

The object of his philosophy was to unite the “idea” of Hegel with the “will” of Schopenhauer in his doctrine of the Absolute Spirit, or, as he preferred to characterize it, spiritual monism. [IEP]

All in all, the earlier work expresses a sunnier hope for human possibilities, the sense that Emerson and his contemporaries were poised for a great step forward and upward; and the later work, still hopeful and assured, operates under a weight or burden, a stronger sense of the dumb resistance of the world... 
Cavell considers Emerson's anticipations of existentialism, and in these and other works he explores Emerson's affinities with Nietzsche and Heidegger. [Stanford]

Sri Aurobindo's Independence Day message broadcast on the eve of August 15, 1947 over AIR, Tiruchirapalli #FiveDreams

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Mother & Sri Aurobindo on ordinary life

Sandeep on How to rise above the ordinary life…
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Helen Longino:

Thanks, Anand. I could not agree more: yes, we need philosophy, science, and religion to provide a full account of this phenomenon we call human existence and/or experience. But surely you don’t mean to suggest that the picture we get from each has equal standing when it comes to making truth claims. Nor, I hope, do you take these classical philosophical traditions (Western, Indian, Chinese, etc.) to be offering a complete and unrevisable picture of the phenomenon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From Buddha to Sri Aurobindo: the debate is on

Ramakrishnan Suryanarayanan on 28 April 2014 at 11:37 pm said: The dates of the Buddha’s life are as much a matter of conjencture and controversy today as they have been during the last 200 years. We only know that he may have lived sometime during the 5th or 4th century BCE, that too is not certain, he may have lived in the 6th century.

Jayarava on 29 April 2014 at 10:12 am said: Buddhist studies has long struggled with emic/etic issues. Scholars have been blinded by their sympathies for Buddhism. An increase of emic scholars writing in the style of academics but with fundamentalist agendas is a problem for us. Those of us who are Buddhists have preconceptions it is almost impossible to overcome. Our underlying narratives all too often involve absolute truths, unreasoning faith, and an uncritical eye.
How many Buddhist scholars have asked themselves why our founder has high status Brahmanical given and family names? Why do his mother and aunt also have high status Brahmin names? Why is his father never referred to as Gautama – as the head of the family it ought to have virtually been like a title (and his son ought to have been Gautamya). My literature review showed that the last person to address this issue was D D Kosambi in 1944, and he sought to smooth over the cracks rather than dig deeper. How does this relate to the process of Brahmanisation that occurred only after the collapse of the Mauryan Empire? And so on.

Aidan Rankin Dec 26, 2003
This creative balancing of complementary principles is at the heart of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy of Integral Yoga.  The word ‘integral’ implies a wholeness made up of component parts, which together constitute a unity.  Such unity is achieved by a balance that is based not on compromise, or the abandonment of principles, but on a synthesis of complementary parts, through which they become aspects of something larger.
Writing in 1910, and anticipating late twentieth century studies of the brain and its functions, Sri Aurobindo spoke of the left and right spheres of awareness in terms of the characteristics of the two hands: [...]
Right brained politics implies a shift of consciousness, a form of mental evolution.  In that sense, it is the political wing of Integral Yoga. Aidan Rankin

donsalmon • 22 days ago Dr. Rankin has posted a very interesting set of ideas, but unfortunately his neuroscience still draws a bit too much on the old, outdated notion of hemispheric differences. I would strongly recommend looking at Iain McGilchrist's "The Master and His Emissary", which was the result of 20 years of study of more than 2500 different research studies. The difference between left and right is not so much narrow intellect and intuition (which is not what Sri Aurobindo really meant in his education article either - note here that McGilchrist's formulation fits far more precisely than the one we find here).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Breathtaking ambition vs. call to action

Amod Lele commented on The accidental Gītā in response to Tusar Nath Mohapatra:

Sri Aurobindo stressed that the Mahabharata and the Gita contain large scale interpolations. Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita is more famous for his response to other philosophical paths than a literal interpretation of the text. Moreover, care should be taken not to treat it as representative of Sri Aurobindo’s overall philosophy. [TNM55]

Tusar, why would you say it’s not representative of his overall philosophy?

Amod Lele commented on The accidental Gītā in response to Patrick S. O'Donnell:

It’s interesting to consider, with Robert Minor in his edited volume, Modern Interpreters of the Bhagavad Gita (1986), that the Gītā played a role in the struggle for Indian independence, as nationalist leaders cited the “exhortation to action” from Kṛṣṇa in their quest for swarāj. Annie Besant, president of the Theosophical Society in 1907, along [...]

Thanks, Patrick. I think it is an important point that the Gītā served well as a call to action at the time of independence.

Amod Lele commented on The accidental Gītā in response to daniele:

Amod, I like your Gītā course :-) It is also my feeling that the centrality of the Gītā has been downplayed in recent scholarship as a consequence of the excessive emphasis on it during the 19th and 20th century. I think it makes sense to mention Abhinavagupta’s commentary to the Gītā (and Rāmakaṇṭha’s one as [...]

Interesting – I had no idea Abhinavagupta’s commentary had been translated. It’s hard to find good translations of him in general.

I have thought more than once about doing a whole course entirely on Gītā commentaries. Between Śaṅkara, Rāmānuja, Abhinavagupta, Dnyaneshwar, Gandhi and Aurobindo you would have a ton of starkly different approaches. I’m not in a position to teach advanced courses right now, but I’d love to do that someday…

Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Twitter@@pbmehta | March 19, 2014 I was teaching two texts back to back: Iqbal’s dazzling book, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, and Sri Aurobindo’s ambitious The Human Cycle. One of the questions emerging from the discussion was this. These are works of breathtaking ambition. They have a philosophy of history, they deeply engage with Western thinkers like Nietzsche and Bergson, they synthesise reason with other aspects of the human personality, and they wrestle with questions of community and humanity. They engage with the whole world.
But they do not engage the traditions adjacent to them. It is almost as if, except for a cursory reference to idolatry, Hindu thought does not exist for Iqbal, and Islam does not for Aurobindo.
This is all the more surprising because the philosophical ground they occupied, a discussion of being and reason, could have been amenable to such a dialogue. After all, both are talking to Nietzsche. Aurobindo was later to say that he could have engaged with Islam if he knew Persian, and that Sufi philosophy could perhaps provide a philosophical meeting ground. Sufism was, of course, precisely the philosophical stance Iqbal criticised.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Plato, Hegel, and Sri Aurobindo

V. P. Varma - The Political Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo
Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 01-Jan-1990 - 494 pages 
At that time I studied Hegel's The Philosophy of History. Then I discovered certain strong points of resemblance between the political thought of Aurobindo and German idealism. Further reflections on the philosophy of history confirmed my ...
... reference to the thought of Dayananda, Vivekananda, Tilak, Pal, Gandhi and Tagore but also with reference to the idealistic school of Western political thought represented by Plato, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Green, Bradley, Bosanquet and others.
My studies in the field of Western philosophy of history especially of Hegel, Marx, Spengler, Toynbee and Berdyaev suggested to me the idea of this reconstruction of Aurobindo's philosophy of history. This study which I have attempted seeks ...
This method we find elaborately employed in the history of European political philosophy, especially with regard to St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Kant and Hegel and even Plato and Aristotle, where not only the theological, metaphysical ...
St. Augustine, Hegel and Marx are philosophers of history in this sense.2 They want to find out the source of the impulsion of historical movements. They may emphasize either God or the absolute idea or the forces of production according to ... Next »
In this sense wherever we get the acceptance of the realistic conception of time we find an element of history.4 Thus we see that contrasted to Schelling, Hegel introduces a dynamic content in his view of the absolute. The metaphysics of ...
First, the rise of the dialectical methodology of Hegel and Marx. Distinguished from a speculative idealism, the dialectic emphasized the ideas of motion, change, progression, catastrophic advance and even sudden retrogression.
Sometimes these metaphysical assumptions are clearly stated as in Hegel, Marx and Toynbee. Sometimes they can only be implicit. It is not possible for a philosopher of history to be an agnostic in his fundamental assumptions. If, for example ...
... of the aspect of supra-cosmic transcendence or essentiality, and therein it is different from the metaphysics of Hegel and Bradley and akin to the traditions of ancient metaphysical Vedantism. Although conceived of as having different poises, ...
... evolution of the human soul through different births.2 (c) Critique of Darwinism Basically and primarily Aurobindo has constructed a theory of cosmic evolution like the Samkhya philosophers of ancient India, Aristotle, Hegel and Spencer.

V. P. Varma - 1990 - ‎Preview - ‎More editions A study of the sources of The Life Divine indicates that at several points Aurobindo has been profoundly influenced by Plato. Aurobindo is not in the habit of mentioning those several philosophers whose thoughts he has incorporated into ..

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wilber's perennialism like Theosophists misinterprets other traditions

Amod Lele on 23 January 2014 at 9:28 pm said: That’s fair, Patrick.
I suspect my tone in the comment to Matthew above was too dismissive. I suppose part of it comes out of an article I published last year on Ken Wilber, whose own perennialism is very much like that of the Theosophists and leads him to gross misinterpretations of the traditions he studies – but I say that while being in very close sympathy with the overall aims of Wilber’s project.
Amod Lele on 23 January 2014 at 9:49 pm said: I agree with you that “those who are skilled or expert in a domain of knowledge or inquiry do in fact have a greater qualification in that regard than do other people.” I used “élitist” with respect to the Theosophists’ belief that they were the skilled experts on each tradition out there, as opposed to others well versed in any given tradition who’d spent far longer with it than the Theosophists themselves had. I suspect this may have reflected at least some amount of class prejudice.
It’s fair to say, though, that this kind of attitude is shared by a number of indigenous Indian traditions (especially Advaitins) and by many contemporary social-scientific scholars of religion – not least those who are determinedly anti-perennialist and anti-theosophical. (The common approach that even your fellow scholars, let alone everyday practitioners, are nothing more than “data”.)

Is caste system really India’s biggest problem? ~Guunjan अप्रैल 25, 2013 10S टिप्पणियाँ Quite frequently, someone or the other comes up with vices of caste system that is claimed to run along with the history of Hindus. But, is caste system really India’s predominantly Hindu society’s biggest problem? Has it ever been such? While this write-up is not intended to hurt anyone at all, a few questions must be raised by us all. Unfortunately, asking questions has become a rare trait that is also responsible for our perennial decay but that would be a different diatribe.
If caste system was or is one of the greatest problems of India, let us evaluate the impact of casteism, as called, with its effects on our society. A natural question arises whether we have had any caste based wars in India in her history. After all, if caste system “suppressed” disadvantaged classes, which have been an overwhelming majority, then there must have been public rebellion or wars against the minority but supposedly ruling upper castes.
History has ample evidences all across the globe of the uprising of downtrodden whenever suppression has continued for a long period of time. But, perhaps it will not be surprising for any of us that there have been no caste based wars in India! It would also not surprise that forward castes were not butchered when there was a king from lower castes... Hope it is also not surprising that quite a few of the greatest kings of India have all been from lower castes! ... The story doesn’t end in ancient India. Many Nayanar saints, Alwar saints, Balakdas, Ghasidas, Namdev, Ravidas, Dadu Dayal, Kabir, Kahar, Narhari, Tukaram and Tukdoji were all backward or scheduled caste in post-ancient India. This list is perhaps endless. After all, is spirituality limited to castes or class in Hindus? Apparently if one reads beyond left leaning authors, it is tough to find caste based “discrimination” prior to Islamic invasion early last millenium. Varna vyavastha did exist, so did castes, if you call it such, but caste-based discrimination doesn’t have any concrete evidence. 

Sri Aurobindo had the advantage of not dealing with his own theory as a new category Posted by Tusar Nath Mohapatra, President @SavitriEraParty: Sri Aurobindo had the advantage of not dealing with his own theory as a new religious or political category which we are forced to do today. Lack of popularity, no doubt, is a severe disability for Sri Aurobindo's teaching but by no means for its worth or relevance for the future. Negligible success both on the spirituality & philosophy front after 63 years of Sri Aurobindo's departure forces us to be humble on claims. Dissonance between theoretical formulations and actual performance by people or organizations associated with Sri Aurobindo bogs scrutiny. Though seeming elitist or abstract The Mother & Sri Aurobindo actually strike at the most pertinent & intricate problems of human existence.
Ethical licence is implicit in Monarchy and as a legacy political parties do condone moral transgressions in Democracy. AAP has come of age! India is doomed until intellectuals need to be told about the importance of Sri Aurobindo's writings which they fail to notice on their own. Sri Aurobindo resisted bolstering the Nazi forces and despite all his patriotism, Netaji fails the test of aligning with Evolutionary arrow. Uncritical extolling of historical personages is fraught with risk and The Mother & Sri Aurobindo offer a safe guide
Leftist atheism, Nehruvian secularism, and RSS obscurantism are hurdles for full blossoming of Indian nationhood that Sri Aurobindo insists. Sri Aurobindo understands the ontological worth of religion for future Evolution of man and neither RSS-BJP nor AAP. TOI edit is spot on on electoral arithmetic but forgets about the deeper issue of place of religion in nation-building which BJP-RSS stress. More than any particular religion or geographical territory Sri Aurobindo is concerned about the future man, his destiny & moulding society.

Tusar Nath Mohapatra on 25 January 2014 at 7:01 am said:
Demarcation between philosophy proper and history of Indian philosophy has been deep since the arrival of Sri Aurobindo in the scene. This year marks the Centenary of his magnum opus “The Life Divine” and other original works like “The Secret of the Veda.” The Evolutionary dialectic of his Integral Ontology seeks to establish a universal template of philosophy that acts as applied psychology as well by suitably incorporating poetic aesthesis. So, not to include him in the list would be an injustice to the future of human civilization and education. [TNM55]

For those who reach Sri Aurobindo through the Ken Wilber route, it is the other extreme. They are continually administered sedatives in small doses so that they never are Sri Aurobindo enthusiasts. All kinds of prejudices are fed to them in a sinister fashion to belittle the Great Master. In a way, it is the revenge of Theosophy that Sri Aurobindo fought a century back returning in a new avatar.
Thus, Wilber is the greatest threat at the moment in the west to build up of any mass attraction for The Mother and Sri Aurobindo and their immortal works. That is, of course, no cause to be disheartened for the Savitri Erans. The English reading public there can some day be motivated to taste the nectar that is Savitri. And from then on there would be no looking back. In the meanwhile, may our aspiration and action match! Posted by Tusar Nath Mohapatra at 5:42 AM