July 18, 2007

The Academy no longer trains the integral person

Re: In search of Integral Education Paradigm: Chaturvarnya, the concept of 'integral man'. by Vladimir by Rich on Tue 17 Jul 2007 08:51 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Vladamir writes: The creation of a prototype of the Universal Purusha and his reflection through the faculties of consciousness in manifestation of the individual is the key concept of cognitive faculties of consciousness in the Vedic Vision. Individual Purusha is embodying and reflecting all the faculties of the Universal, which was the uttamam rahasya, the great secret of Vedanta and Veda. According to Shankara this part of Aitareya Upanishad is the most secret. Thus the individual is nothing but a prototype of the Universal. He is already chaturvarnya.
Rich: Its interesting that this method of representation which depicts a resemblance between the particular sign and its universal phenomena by drawing a concrete analogy was - at least through the Renaissance the dominant way of representing the things of world by simulating their likeness to it. This was according to Michel Foucault the episteme which governed the perception of the world of the 16th century. He writes:
Analogy makes the marvellous confrontation of resemblances across space but it also speaks of bonds and joints. Its power is immense for the similitudes of which it treats are not the visible, substantial ones between things themselves , they need only be more subtle resemblances of relations Disencumbered thus, it can extend from a single point to an endless number of relations,. The one privileged point in space that is saturated with analogies is man, He stand in proportion to the heavens just as does the animals and plants and as he does the earth , to metals, to stalactites or storm. Upright between the surface of the universe, he stands in relation to the firmament (his face is to the body what the face of heaven is to the other; his pulse beats in his veins as the stars circle the sky according to fixed paths; the seven orifices in his head are to his face what the seven planets are to the sky; but he is also the fulcrum upon which these relationships turn, so that we find them again, their similarity unimpaired, in the analogy of the human animal to the earth it inhabits , his flesh is a glebe, his bones are rocks, his veins great rivers, his bladder is the sea, and his seven principle organs are the metals of in the shaft of mines. (The Order of Things)
So yes to construct an integral person Sri Aurobindo is quite correct that we can not lean upon a foregone episteme which identifies the individual with a ordering of the world coextensive with universality and structures a social discourse according to this order. The Renaissance man was thought to be an integral man of sorts in that he was supposed to be a master of many separate disciplines, however we are several orders of “epsitemes” removed from that era, we are now in the age of the “expert” whose mastery extends only to his/her specialty.
The course of human knowledge has evolved to such a magnitude that the Academy no longer trains the integral person but the specialist who parses his thin slice of learning through sorting out “difference” rather than in looking for the resemblance with the universal. In such a fragmented age, the challenge of communities like Auroville whose efforts are specifically to develop the integral ideal, is to adopt education and training methodologies (as described by Vladamir) to nurture a new Renaissance ideal however, such efforts have to not only seek to excavate the resemblances of signs to phenomena , but would also have to honor the pastiche and differences which define the surfaces of our post-modern age even as they reconstruct them into an integral whole. rc

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