August 12, 2006

Intellectual shopping

Tusar N Mohapatra Says: August 10th, 2006 at 7:45 am “this physical world of matter and the here and now, not some grand scheme of things in the lofty dream realm.”
When you say, “this physical world of matter” do you include i) the subtle physical, and ii) the causal physical worlds? Hiranya-garbha, the dream world, is the womb of possibilities and hence, nothing can be seen as lofty or distant.
Edward Berge Says: August 10th, 2006 at 12:08 pm Tusar, We are obviously talking about different things. You are using terminology and ideas inherent in the metaphysical perennial philosophy, perhaps with Aurobindo’s modern interpretation. And this is exactly what Wilber is criticising, as it doesn’t take into account the postmetaphysical revelations of the postmodern movement. So to answer your question, when I say a “grand scheme in the lofty dream realm” I mean metaphysical assumptions of the myth of the given in the various guises we’ve been discussing here and in other blog posts.
alan kazlev Says: August 10th, 2006 at 3:11 pm I have already explained that Wilber is a physicalist (hence his denial of supra-physical realities; nothing in the resulting conversation on this forum conclusively showed otherwise, apart from a bit of confusion regarding Wilber’s take on the Two Truths). I have also showed Wilber’s misunderstanding of and limitations in relation to the Aurobindonian perspective, in my essay on the Visser site. And Jeff Meyerhoff has critiqued Wilber’s understanding of postmodernism. This is not to deny that postmodernism (I mean authentic postmodernism, as opposed to the Wilberian misinterpretration) has a place in academia; however postmodernist academia itself still has to address this problem
Edward Berge Says: August 11th, 2006 at 12:31 pm Thanks Tusar, I read the blog you quoted. It is the standard argument againt postmodernism, one that Ken has made time and again. And I’d say that it is partially accurate of the early pomo originators, and of many of those current academic followers of the originators. But that has changed in the later writings of those originators, Derrida among them... As Faber says in “The Wake of False Unifications”:
“In Whitehead’s Category of the Ultimate, multiplicity is ultimate: It is the primordial condition for the subjective process of unification and its final aim in the transient process of multiplication. With this process of multiplication, Whitehead anticipates Derrida’s différance and Deleuze’s differenciation, as has already been recognized by process theologians. As in Derrida and Deleuze, the critical aspect of this insight is that unity is always only a finite element in an infinite, rhizomatic process.”
alan kazlev Says: August 11th, 2006 at 2:12 pm Edward said: I can only make general statements about the myth of the given from my own study of other metaphysical systems.
Yet in denying non-wilberian “metaphysical systems” (and I hope you aren’t using Wilber’s embarrassing pop-definition of metaphysics here) - note that Wilberism is “metaphysical” because it posits metaphysical entrities called holons - you are simply enforcing a prefernce for your own “creation story”; i.e. the scientism-based physicalism of secular modernity, with its various commentaries and subsets (e.g. New Age and Wilberian holistic physicalism, academic postmodernism, etc etc), which is no more worthy of naive adherance than would be any other ethnocentric ideology or religion.
Marko Rinck Says: August 11th, 2006 at 3:39 pm Edward, perhaps the holons themselves are not pre-given ontological things, but they are still set and operating within the context of the twenty tenets which according to Wilber are pre-given. So Wilber wants us to believe that his model is in accordance with postmodernism while postmodernism would not at all expect something like these pregiven twenty tenets. And at the same time he is attacking vitually all the spiritual schools and systems as being mythological for using pregivens in his interview with Cohen in the latest WIE issue. To me this sounds as double standards.
Tusar N Mohapatra Says: August 11th, 2006 at 6:47 pm It would be nice if people return to Philosophy/Metaphysics proper (i.e., academic) than pursuing New Age Remix, for then it is possible to communicate using standard terminology. (Now, semantics kills half the argument.) And if that is coming through a fresh fascination for post-modernism, it’s all the more better.
But post-modernism need not be pitted against modernism. This war between the modern and the post-modern has forced upon us lopsided priorities and warped perspectives. The fact that the divergent concepts must be applied in their respective locus is easily forgotten, and the contra attempted to corner browny points. Both the world-views must survive just as classical physics is doing fine along with particle physics, and any suspicion is misplaced.
For instance, Merleau-Ponty had passed away before post-modernism became a rage. But, his Visible and Invisible is fecund with post-modernist insights, though he is clubbed within the Husserlian Phenomenolgical tradition. In Merleau-Ponty, the height of Metaphysics is scaled, but the later post-er boys steal the limelight.
Edward Berge Says: August 11th, 2006 at 7:37 pm From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Merleau-Ponty also makes one other important comment about the Phenomenology of Perception, and his reasons for writing a new ontology, which is worth exploring. According to him, a major factor behind him setting out upon this different path, was the conviction that the tacit or pre-reflective cogito of his earlier philosophy is problematic (VI 179). The pre-reflective cogito is basically just the idea that there is a cogito before language, or to put it crudely, that there is a self anterior to both language and thought that we can aim to get in closer contact with. The notion of a pre-reflective cogito hence presumes the possibility of a consciousness without language, and it exhibits something of a nostalgic desire to return to some brute, primordial experience. This is something that thinkers like Irigiray have criticized Merleau-Ponty for, and in The Visible and the Invisible he has come to share these type of concerns.
Tusar N Mohapatra Says: August 11th, 2006 at 8:43 pm To see the Pre-reflective pejoratively as brute and primordial is certainly a narrow formulation. Just as Shushupti, or Deep Sleep is popularly identified with unconsciousness. Sri Aurobindo calls it the Super-conscient, the massed-consciousness (Chaitanya-ghana) from which all consciousness and action spring forth.
The Pre-reflective, therefore, and the Lebenswelt as well, do have resonance with the Hiranya-garbha, the dream world, which is the womb of all possibilities. The Given is the repository of all potential actualities and not any fixed matrix. Merleau-Ponty has dared to breach the border, but who cares?
Edward Berge Says: August 11th, 2006 at 9:17 pm Tusar said: “The Given is the repository of all potential actualities and not any fixed matrix.”
This sounds similar to Whitehead’s Category of the Ultimate. The difference is that the myth of the given states that we cannot directly experience this pre-reflexive, primordial given without the epistemological intepretation. Or rather, the latter is part and parcel of the former. As Hargens said in a previous reference regarding intersubjectivity:
“Wilber’s post-Cartesian framework is what leads him to emphasize that interpretation is built into all corners and levels of the Kosmos.[29] In the relative sense interpretation is sympathetic resonance of interiors, while in the absolute sense interpretation is possible because there is only one interior (Spirit). In both cases interpretation is simultaneously direct experience. Wilber isn’t denying direct unmediated experience between subjects, but his point is that that direct experience occurs in an intersubjective space such that there is no direct experience sans interpretation.”


  1. [One of the issues that tends to give me headaches within the object-oriented ontologies of Harman, Latour, and Whitehead are the questions of time and space. It seems to me that all of the object-oriented ontologists are more or less agreed in rejecting the notion of time and space as containers. If objects are, to use Bogost’s gorgeous term, the primitive “units” of being (which isn’t to say they are simple or indivisible), then it follows that time and space cannot be more primitive than objects, that they cannot be containers within which objects reside, but rather time and space must be generated by or arise from objects somehow. But how, precisely, to conceive these processes or the genesis of spatio-temporal fields and relations among relations? Of the object-oriented ontologists, Whitehead strikes me as having the most well developed account of spatio-temporality, though sadly I have a bear of a time understanding just what he is claiming (perhaps Shaviro can flesh this out for us some day). Whitehead was led to a similar conclusion precisely because he treats being as composed of actual occasions and nothing else. Spatio-Temporal Topology– A Brief Remark from Larval Subjects. by larvalsubjects]

  2. [Moving Beyond The Mind of Reason from Sri Aurobindo Studies by sriaurobindostudies

    “We have to go beyond the mind and the reason.” Mental understanding is a reflection of the intellect, but is not, in and of itself, sufficient to comprehend the totality of the universal manifestation or the transcendent reality. The subconscient contains the formulation of involved energy that manifested the world of matter, life and mind, bringing us to where we stand today. They key concept here is energy of action, life-energy. The superconscient is that which is beyond our current formulation and the key concept is light and greater awareness. In each case the mental understanding is incapable of fully addressing the reality involved. Sri Aurobindo points out that intuitional knowledge is a form of awareness which puts us in touch with these subconscient or superconscient realities, and that this is the first intimation of the “knowledge by identity” that allows us to try “know” anything. The mind, the power of reason, works to interpret, organize and provide a framework for this intuitional knowledge and when it is fully converted, this mind of reason is converted itself “into the form of the self-luminous intuitional knowledge. This is the highest possible state of our knowledge when mind fulfils itself in the supramental.” This is not to say this is the highest or ultimate state of awareness, but the highest formulation of the action of the mental reason.

    reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 8, The Methods of Vedantic Knowledge

    For more information on Sri Aurobindo visit our website at

    For Sri Aurobindo’s books, visit the US publisher Lotus Press Website]