December 22, 2008

Sri Aurobindo’s presentation of evolution has its intellectual roots in the Providential theology of Hegel

"Such a Body We Must Create:" New Theses on Integral Micropolitics
Daniel Gustav Anderson
INTEGRAL REVIEW December 2008 Vol. 4, No. 2

12: Hegel (1902) asserts that Providence "manifests" in time in the variable form of historical manifestations (p. 14), where historical manifestations include human consciousness developing according to an a priori plan. Aurobindo Ghose (1949) employs this definition as well: "a pre-determined evolution from inconscience to superconscience, the development of arising order of beings with a culminating transition from the life of the Ignorance to a life in the Knowledge" (p. 742). And also like Hegel, Aurobindo characterizes this evolution as Providential, and worded very carefully in the passive voice to allow a measure of plausible deniability.

"Even in the Inconscient there seems to be at least an urge of inherent necessity producing the evolution of forms and in the forms a developing Consciousness," Aurobindo (1949) posits, "and it may well be held that this urge is the evolutionary will of a secret Conscious Being and its push of progressive manifestation the evidence of an innate intention" (p. 742). Aurobindo’s engagement with Hindu traditions notwithstanding, his presentation of evolution has its intellectual roots in the Providential theology of Hegel. [...]

21: In this essay I classify Gebser as a Hegelian, but it should be understood that Gebser is not precisely a Hegelian in the Providential way Aurobindo seems to be. Gebser does posit a spiritualized (but atemporal) origin, metaphysically real, that manifests through human practice in a near-future new reality, which is taken to proven the reality of said origin. Thus, Gebser assumes the origin he seeks to prove, a tendency Marx diagnoses in Hegelian thinking in the 1844 Manuscripts and Althusser explicates (see Thesis Two)—even in the face of Gebser’s own strong words against Hegel (Gebser, 2004, pp. 41-42). [...]

67: I find the origin of integral theory as an intellectual movement in Aurobindo’s post-Hegelian positivism (Anderson, 2006); Hampson (2007), in a useful counterbalance to my position, cites Gebser’s positivist, post-Hegelian synthetic work as the foundational gesture of integral theory. Both positions have merit, and broadly speaking, do not contradict, insofar as both Aurobindo and Gebser were working from largely the same intellectual milieu the Hegelian and post-Hegelian idealism Wilber (2000a) praises as a "lost opportunity" (pp. 523-537) and in the context of Empire’s transformations. Such is the ambivalence of the post-colonial situation. 5:26 PM

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