December 31, 2008

Sri Aurobindo attempted to "Christianize" Vedanta

Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death!
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob Bolton makes a lot of fine points in Self and Spirit... Bolton falls within the traditionalist camp, but he is clearly deviating from Schuon and most of his clones in hewing to a dualistic metaphysic.

Bolton feels that Schuon, in order to harmonize all of the diverse revelations -- and one of our commenters has made this point in the past -- basically assumed the truth of the pure nondualist metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta, and then crammed the rest of the religions into that framework, even if it occasionally involved some tendentious reasoning, and gave short shrift to the actual beliefs of this or that religion.

In short, both Guenon and Schuon "assume that the Hindu wisdom as interpreted by Shankara is the medium in which the different traditions are [to be] reconciled."

This obviously has a certain superficial appeal, for there is no question that on some level "all is one." But the question is, what kind of One? For when you say "all is one," you might just as well say "all is none." Not only is it a meaningless statement, it is unmeaningable -- no different than saying "all is all" or "one is one."

Furthermore, what is the ontological status of the entity that knows "all is one?" As Bolton says, "Any such answer must include some proof that the self is a reality in its own right, and not just a collective name for a succession of more or less related phenomena with no integrating principle." For if the self is not in some sense real, then there is nothing it can objectively say about anything, let alone, God.

This is a critical question, because on it hinges not just the reality and the dignity of the personal self, but the entire possibility of any intrinsic meaning at all, since meaning can only exist in reference to something else. If all is simply one, it is another way of saying that life is completely meaningless -- which some Vedantins and Buddhists come close to saying, i.e., that the world is maya (illusion) and nothing else.

Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but Sri Aurobindo was completely opposed to this idea. You could even say that he was the polar opposite of Schuon, in the sense that he attempted to "Christianize" Vedanta, as opposed to Vedanta-izing Christianity. He regarded the realm of maya as a conscious power that can be easily reconciled with a Christian logo-centric conception of reality. He felt that the world was worthy of our being in it, and vice versa. The cosmos is not just one big freaking mistake. [...]

Now, interestingly, both Buddhism and Vedanta speak of "liberation," whereas Christianity speaks of salvation, something very different. I think this goes to the heart of the matter, not just for the individual, but for all of creation, for Christianity also speaks of somehow salvaging the whole existentialada.

December 30, 2008

Sri Aurobindo gave an unambiguous message to internal and external forces beyond the limits of time

OPED Saturday, November 22, 2008 'God cannot be jailed' Rakesh Sinha

Though Aurobindo and his youthful followers suffered great hardship throughout the trial, they effectively converted the occasion into the first ever public display of patriotism

The emerging challenge before the nation on the economics front is how to decouple the Indian share markets from the sinking ones in the West. But, a far bigger and decisive challenge confronting the collective conscious is how to decolonise the Indian mind , trapped as it is by the shackles foreign notions. Indian 'secularism' is one of the dominant ideologies for the past 60 years. It is a borrowed social policy, without any relevance in India. Post-independent.

However, the essence of India has remained uncorrupted. The spiritual core of India has withstood invasions through ten centuries. It resisted the persecutions of the Mughals and the allurement to 'westernise' offered by Macaulayism. Except for a 'courtier class', the rest of the country paid no heed to anti-Indian intellectual trends. India's ancient culture is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It has ensured India's rebirth through many ravages.

This struggle has been a civilisational one. On the centenary of the Alipore Bomb Case, it is important to understand how the sight of 35 iologically motivated boys cheerfully embracing harsh imprisonment and courting death changed the course of the freedom struggle. The spiritual underpinnings of this came from Vedanta thought. Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita and Aurobindo Ghose motivated a whole generation to venerate the Motherland as a Goddess and fearlessly play with fire to defend India's honour. The 'Mother' (Bharat), was depicted as 'humiliated' and therefore it became the duty of the son to defend give her back her honour even if it meant dying for it.

Sri Aurobindo distinctly defined the contours of Indian culture and nationalism. To him, the nation was "not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of mind. It is a mighty shakti, composed of the shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation ..the shakti we call the India." The West derives the definition of a nation and its rise and fall with expressions over land and people, i.e. language, commerce, physical boundary, etc. It defines religion in terms of a divisive category of the people, which triggered off a ceaseless competition for acquiring superiority . Islam and Christianity, the dominant religions of the West, are essentially majoritarian ideologies. They tolerate non-believers only on their terms. Of course, in situations where they are in a minority, they demand (and in the case of India, extract) special treatment. But overall, they target global minorities with the help of their international networks. Obvious examples of this are 'global jihad' and the Vatican's call to make Asia (read India) fully Christian in the third Millennium of Christ.

Aurobindo said that nationalism "survives in the strength of God". It is not possible to crush nationalism, whatever the weapon brought against it. Nationalism cannot die and is hence immortal because it is another form of God. The message that the bunch of brave boys sent out from the courtroom in Alipore 100 years back this month is: "God cannot be killed, God cannot be sent to jail".

Aurobindo gave an unambiguous message to internal and external forces beyond the limits of time. He said: "This Hindu nation was born with the sanatan dharma, with it (India) moves and with it (India) grows. When the sanatan dharma declines, then the nation declines."

It is also a kind of madness. Aurobindo admitted to this when he said:

" My third madness is that other people look upon the country as an inert piece of matter, a stretch of fields and meadows, forests and rivers. To me She is the Mother. I adore Her, worship Her. What will the son do when he sees a Rakshasa sitting on the breast of his mother and sucking her blood? Will he quietly have his meal or will he rush to deliver his mother from that grasp? I know I have the strength to redeem this fallen race. It is not physical strength, it is the strength of knowledge… This feeling is not new, I was born with it and it is in my marrow. God has sent me to this world to accomplish this great mission."

Viewed in hindsight, few men would have been more unlikely to turn nationalistic than Aurobindo. His childhood was spent in England and he was totally Anglicized. He was sent to England at the age of seven and stayed there for 14 years. But England could not colonise his soul. His life story is one of continual growth up the ladder of ideological leadership of the evolving nationalism of 20th century India. Subash Chandra Bose considered him a pillar of the nationalist discourse in India. Dr K B Hedgewar , the founder of the RSS, went Pondicherry before the Nagpur session of the Congress in 1920 to convince him to rejoin politics. But he refused because after the Alipore case, he became convinced India's spiritual path is the true path.

Deshabandhu Chitaranjan Das, the famous barrister who represented him in the Alipore Bomb case, said that Aurobindo's voice should not go unheard even by the British. "My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, the agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History." --The writer is an Academician and Hony. Director, India Policy Foundation. The Search Results are given below using word ALIPORE BOMB CASE 'God cannot be jailed' 22 November, 2008 The bomb that shook an Empire 22 November, 2008 100 years of righteous terror 22 November, 2008 Politics of reaching out 11 October, 2008 Alipore bomb case to be exhibited at SC museum 12 May, 2006 11:16 AM

December 28, 2008

We need to strengthen the academic/intellectual side of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education

Professor and Head, 17 September 2008
The Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram,
Pondicherry 605 002
Sub: Peter Heehs’ book: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, Columbia
University Press, 2008...
What are the lessons?

First, we need to strengthen the academic/intellectual side of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre for Education. We must fashion out a way of intellectual training of the young students and critics that fits into Sri Aurobindo’s injunction about the office and limitation of Reason, expounded in Human Cycle and elsewhere. The Mind, Sri Aurobindo says, most emphatically, has to be developed as an instrument, and open itself to higher Truths of Life. If we do not do this, we cannot blame others who are not attuned to this approach, from taking over and filling the void, as it has regrettably happened now. In this regard, we must be prepared to take the help of the ex-students of the Ashram who have had considerable training in this regard in the outside world. We must remember that either we move forward or go backward. There is no third alternative.

Clearly, as spirituality enjoins upon us, the best way of living within in our context, is to immerse ourselves in the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. While dogma and religiosity are to be shunned at all costs, we must internalize the Aurobindonian view of life which alone can safeguard us against aberrations and pitfalls. When a sufficiently large number of a community practise an ethical and spiritual life (ethics is not a bad word), then they would generate a force that alone can act as an effective antidote to darkness and ignorance.

Conclusion: Clarity of vision leads to a clarity of action. Those that are at the helms of affairs of a community must have a larger vision and discharge their responsibilities without fear and favor. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was founded upon spiritual Realizations. As ordinary mortals, we can at least have conviction in the basic Truth of the Founders!
Is this too much to expect!
Sachidananda Mohanty

About Saaba > For the Prosecution of Peter

Dignity and justice for all of us

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
other language versions Human Rights Day 10 December 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948
On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

On 10 December, Human Rights Day, the Secretary-General launched a year-long campaign in which all parts of the United Nations family are taking part in the lead up to the 60th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on Human Rights Day 2008.

With more than 360 language versions to help them, UN organizations around the globe are using the year to focus on helping people everywhere to learn about their human rights. The UDHR was the first international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms and it continues to be a living and relevant document today.

The theme of the campaign, “Dignity and justice for all of us,” reinforces the vision of the Declaration as a commitment to universal dignity and justice and not something that should be viewed as a luxury or a wish-list.

December 26, 2008

When complex systems evolve over time the paths they take is contingent on historical accidents

An Evolutionist Speaks Out About Economists' Pretensions About Science
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy
Massimo Pigliucci, professor in the departments of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook, NY, contributes an important piece of work in the Blog, (‘a site devoted to positive scepticism') (HERE):

“Economics learns a thing or two from evolutionary biology”

“Economics is supposed to be a solid discipline, founded on complex mathematical models (and we all know math is really, really difficult). They even give Nobel prizes to economists, for crying out loud! And yet, economics has always had to fight off the same reputation of being a “soft” science that has plagued sociology, psychology, and to some extent even some of the biological sciences, like ecology and evolutionary biology. Indeed, like practitioners in those other fields of inquiry, some economists admit of being guilty of “physics envy,” that is, of using the physical sciences as the model for what their field ought to be like. Turns out even the assumption that a good science should be modeled on physics is “flawed,” to use Greenspan’s apt phrase.

“A recent article by Chelsea Wald in Science (12 December 2008) puts things in perspective by asking how it is possible that so many smart people in the financial sector made irrational decisions over a period of years, despite clear data showing there was a problem, and eventually leading to a worldwide economic crisis that is at the least poking at, if not shaking, the foundations of capitalism itself. Part of the answer is to be found in the persistent idea in economics that “markets” work because people are rational agents who act in their own self-interest and have perfect, instantaneous access to relevant information about the businesses they are considering investing in. Economists are not stupid, and they know very well that perfect rationality, complete information and instant access are all light years away from the reality of how markets operate. And in fact recent models have relaxed these assumptions to some extent. But it is so much more tractable to model things that way! After all, physicists do it too: remember those problems in Physics 101 that started “consider a spherical cow…”?

“Perhaps not surprisingly, there is another science that has been inspiring economists for some time now: evolutionary biology. The old “efficient markets hypothesis” underlying classical models is being replaced by the “adaptive markets hypothesis,” where Adam Smith’s invisible hand becomes more directly analogous to natural selection.” [...]

“There is another lesson to be learned from evolutionary biology that will not make economists, or the public at large, particularly happy: when complex systems evolve over time the paths they take is contingent on historical accidents (as opposed to being deterministic, like the laws of macro-physics, outside quantum mechanics). Sociologists, psychologists, ecologists and evolutionary biologists will readily tell their economic colleagues that it is certainly possible to explain past events (the extinction of the dinosaurs, the dot-com bubble) by the use of sufficiently complex causal-historical models. What seems to be out of reach, however, is precisely what economists want most: predicting the future, the hallmark of “good” science.”

“The moral of the story is that all of the above is not a failure of economics, sociology, psychology, ecology or evolutionary biology. It is the predictable outcome of the fact that these sciences deal with complex, historical systems, unlike much (though not all) of physics. The real assumption we need to get rid of is the highly persistent and pernicious one that physics is the golden standard by which all other sciences ought to be measured. Now if we only could convince federal funding agencies of that...”

Comment: What a breath of fresh air from Professor Massimo Pigliucci! [...]

Among economists, we have bought the unscientific myth that if we spend a century creating beautiful mathematical models of an imaginary economy, without people in all their complexity and unpredictability, and our competence is judged by our understanding of the model, but not the reality of real economies!

We are a ‘hard’ science and much ‘superior’ to ‘wishy-washy sociology, psychology and history, even though it is well-known that humans are not ‘well behaved’ like physical objects. We are not like wooden pieces on a chess board, as Adam Smith put it.

It is worrying too that just as more economists begin to realise that “the old 'efficient markets hypothesis' underlying classical models is being replaced by the 'adaptive markets hypothesis,' into which realisation, the oldest nonsense in modern economics (invented as a mass myth from the 1950s), is being re-introduced into the latter, under the guise that the metaphor of “Adam Smith’s invisible hand”, such that it is to be regarded as “more directly analogous to natural selection.”

Please spare us from this spurious nonsense; it’s bad enough that the proponents of the so-called scientific basis of economics have got away with their claims that the mystical disembodied body part was the ‘most important idea’ of modern economics, which is something that they never got from the texts of Adam Smith (see my paper: 'Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand: from metaphor to myth’, 2008 and downloadable from the homer page of Lost Legacy).


Giovanni Battista Vico (1668-1744) spent most of his professional life as Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Naples... Timothy Costelloe

The reduction of all facts to the ostensibly paradigmatic form of mathematical knowledge is a form of "conceit," Vico maintains, which arises from the fact that "man makes himself the measure of all things" (Element I, §120, p.60) and that "whenever men can form no idea of distant and unknown things, they judge them by what is familiar and at hand" (Element II, §122, p.60). Recognizing this limitation, Vico argues, is at once to grasp that phenomena can only be known via their origins, or per caussas (through causes). [...]

Since history itself, in Vico's view, is the manifestation of Providence in the world, the transition from one stage to the next and the steady ascendance of reason over imagination represent a gradual progress of civilization, a qualitative improvement from simpler to more complex forms of social organization. Vico characterizes this movement as a "necessity of nature" ("Idea of the Work," §34, p.21) which means that, with the passage of time, human beings and societies tend increasingly towards realizing their full potential. From rude beginnings undirected passion is transformed into virtue, the bestial state of early society is subordinated to the rule of law, and philosophy replaces sentiments of religion.

"Out of ferocity, avarice, and ambition, the three vices which run throughout the human race," Vico says, "legislation creates the military, merchant, and governing classes, and thus the strength, riches, and wisdom of commonwealths. Out of these three great vices, which could certainly destroy all mankind on the face of the earth, it makes civil happiness" (Element VII, §132, p.62). In addition, the transition from poetic to rational consciousness enables reflective individuals-the philosopher, that is, in the shape of Vico-to recover the body of universal history from the particularity of apparently random events. This is a fact attested to by the form and content of The New Science itself. Timothy Costelloe

New metaphysical “sound” from any nation of the world

Dec 25, 2008 New Book Series from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
Open Humanities Press has announced a new book series devoted to the publication of original metaphysical systems. This is an exciting moment in Continental thought and a bit of a watershed for the future of Continental philosophy. The old stereotype runs that Anglo-American philosophy is focused on problems, while Continental thought tends to be focused on the history of philosophy and commentary. As a result, within Anglo-American philosophy we tend to get original work (though often very boring), while in Continental thought, at least within the English speaking world, we get commentary after commentary. This is not, of course, to diminish the value of commentary or its potential to function as a platform for the development of new philosophical trajectories. However, this focus on the history of philosophy places real institutional constraints on philosophers in the English speaking world working in the Continental tradition. Insofar as one must be concerned with either getting a position or gaining tenure, and insofar as Continental journals and presses are geared towards the history of philosophy, doing original work becomes a losing proposition as you’re unlikely to find a publishing venue for that work and thereby lose valuable time in doing this work. This new series goes part of that way towards ameliorating that problem, though it also opens the door to anxiety as to whether or not we really have anything to say in our own voice. At any rate, here’s the announcement:

New Metaphysics
Series editors: Graham Harman and Bruno Latour
The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics. The New Metaphysics series aims to provide a safe house for such thinking amidst the demoralizing caution and prudence of professional academic philosophy. We do not aim to bridge the analytic-continental divide, since we are equally impatient with nail-filing analytic critique and the continental reverence for dusty textual monuments.

We favor instead the spirit of the intellectual gambler, and wish to discover and promote authors who meet this description. Like an emergent recording company, what we seek are traces of a new metaphysical “sound” from any nation of the world. The editors are open to translations of neglected metaphysical classics, and will consider secondary works of especial force and daring. But our main interest is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy. Please send project descriptions (not full manuscripts) to Graham Harman,

Open Humanities Press is an international Open Access publishing collective. OHP was formed by scholars to overcome the current crisis in publishing that threatens intellectual freedom and academic rigor worldwide. All OHP publications are peer-reviewed, published under open access licenses, and freely and immediately available online through

December 24, 2008

Jewish French mystic Mirra Alfassa and the Cambridge-educated yogi Sri Aurobindo

Affective Communities : Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship
Leela Gandhi

ISBN: 817821641 Publisher: Permanent Black Book Format: Hard Bound Language: English Physical Description: 254 pages Year of Publication: 2006

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. So E.M Forster famously observed in Two Cheers for Democracy. This epigrammatic manifesto, where friend stands as a metaphor for cross-cultural collaboration, holds the key, Leela Gandhi argues, to the hitherto neglected history of western anti-imperialism. Focusing on individuals and groups who renounced the privileges of imperialism to elect affinity with the victims of expansionism, she uncovers the Utopian-socialist critiques of empire that emerged in Europe, specifically in Britain, at the end of the nineteenth century.

Leela Gandhi reveals for the first time how those associated with marginalized lifestyles, subcultures, and traditions--including homosexuality, vegetarianism, animal rights, spiritualism, and aestheticism--united against imperialism and forged strong bonds with colonized subjects and cultures. She weaves together the stories of a number of South Asian and European friendships that flourished between 1878 and 1914, tracing the complex historical networks connecting figures like the English socialist and homosexual reformer Edward Carpenter and the young Indian barrister M.K. Gandhi, or the Jewish French mystic Mirra Alfassa and the Cambridge-educated yogi Sri. Aurobindo.

Challenging homogeneous portrayals of 'the west' and its role in relation to anticolonial struggles, Leela Gandhi puts forward a powerful new model of the political: one that finds in friendship a crucial resource for anti-imperialism and transnational collaboration.


COVER STORY India Today Cover Story The gift of humanity November 16, 2007
The gift of humanity
THE GIFT OF HUMANITY Communal experience: Auroville, Puducherry

Potters, candle makers and perfumers work in their designated zones; there are information centres and handicraft boutiques; a biosphere is coming up; and the township has a solar kitchen that can feed 10,000 at a time.
Everything is open to everyone and there are no barricades or guards. Auroville is a commune that belongs to no one and yet aims to belong to the whole of humanity.

What was started in the early 1930s as Mother’s—Aurobindo’s disciple Mirra Alfassa—idea of an experiment in human unity, has been realised at Auroville. Commended in 1966 by UNESCO as a project of importance to the future of humanity, the township was inaugurated on February 28 1968.
Today it houses more than 1,700, with more than 600 Indians. Though countless visitors come to Auroville, it does not seek to be a tourist attraction. The idea is to encourage people to stay and participate.

Living in harmony There is an emphasis on research in fields from organic farming to dance and even the study of lights, sound and meditation.
Auroville has proven to the world that an idealistic community—not built around a cult or religion—can not only exist successfully, but also engage with local communities, evolve architecture that has been acclaimed the world over and work towards environmental restoration—the only experiment of its kind in the world! by Nirmala Ravindran

December 23, 2008

We are thankful that questions were asked

Savitri: the Light of the Supreme Home Mirror of Tomorrow Main Page Previous: About Savitri—Huta’s Prefatory Note Next: The Opening Lines of Savitri—an Account by Nirodbaran
Sri Aurobindo’s Letters Pertaining to The Symbol Dawn
by RY Deshpande on Tue 16 Dec 2008 05:16 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

Sri Aurobindo wrote innumerable letters on Savitri during the long period 1930-50. These were essentially written in response to the questions put to him, mostly by Amal Kiran (KD Sethna) and covered a variety of themes. We have here in them good details about the genesis of the poem, it first becoming a tale based on the Mahabharata story and then a symbol and a legend presenting the issue of this mortal creation. There are spiritual aspects in it, and autobiographical revelations of the yogic attainments, and matters pertaining to the early compositions of Savitri, explanations of the new aesthesis and poetic techniques, marking it as the poetry of the future.

It is, as the Mother says, the supreme revelation of Sri Aurobindo. The epic begins with the most daunting prolegomena, forming at once the most difficult entry-point to enter into its esotericism and spirituality, luminously occult but functionally and structurally most significant. Things that were set into motion in the transcendent have suddenly started rushing into the cosmic and the earthly, in the process of evolutionary growth. No wonder, these descriptions proved not only too mystical but also very cryptic and baffling.

But we are thankful that questions were asked and extremely grateful that Sri Aurobindo spared no effort in elucidating the recondite and the spiritual and the occult as much as the literary, features and characteristics that demand new understanding of the poetry that is there in it. The Mother’s explanation of the Symbol Dawn is a precious gift to us; so also are the letters written by Sri Aurobindo about some passages of it. We present these in the following compilation. RY Deshpande

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

M.N. Roy, Jatindranath Mukherjee, & Sri Aurobindo

In 1903, on meeting Sri Aurobindo at Yogendra Vidyabhushan's place, Jatin decides to collaborate with him and is said to have added to his programme the clause of winning over the Indian soldiers of the British regiments in favour of an insurrection. W. Sealy in his report on "Connections with Bihar and Orissa" notes that Jatin Mukherjee "a close confederate of Nani Gopal Sen Gupta of the Howrah Gang (...) worked directly under the orders of Arabinda Ghosh."[11] ...

Organiser of secret society
Jatin, together with Barindra Ghosh, set up a bomb factory near Deoghar, while Barin was to do the same at Maniktala in Calcutta. Whereas Jatin disapproved of all untimely terrorist action, Barin led an organisation centred around his own personality : his aim was, aside from the general production of terror, the elimination of certain Indian and British officers serving the Crown. Side by side, Jatin developed a decentralised federated body of loose autonomous regional cells. Organising relentless relief missions with a para medical body of volunteers following almost a military discipline, during natural calamities such as floods, epidemics, or religious congregations like the Ardhodaya and the Kumbha mela, or the annual celebration of Ramakrishna’s birth, Jatin was suspected of utilising these as pretexts for group discussions with regional leaders and recruiting new militants.[15] ...

In 1908 Jatin was not one of over thirty revolutionaries accused in the Alipore Bomb Case following the incident at Muzaffarpur. Hence, during the Alipore trial, Jatin took over the leadership of the secret society to be known as the Jugantar Party, and revitalises the links between the central organisation in Calcutta and its several branches spread all over Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and several places in U.P..[20] - Bagha Jatin From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Jatindranath Mukherjee)


Unhappy with Barin’s highly centralised and authoritative way of leadership, Naren and his group had been looking for something more constructive than making bombs at the Maniktala garden. Two incidents sharpened their interest in an alternative leadership. Barin had sent Prafulla Chaki with Charuchandra Datta to see Bagha Jatin at Darjeeling who was posted there on official duty, and do away with the Lt-Governor; on explaining to Prafulla that the time was not yet ripe, Jatin promised to contact him later. Though Prafulla was much impressed by this hero, Barin cynically commented that it would be too much of an effort for a Government officer to serve a patriotic cause. Shortly after, Phani returned from Darjeeling, after a short holiday: fascinated by Jatin’s charisma, he informed his friends about the unusual man. On hearing Barin censuring Phani for disloyalty, Naren decided to see that exceptional Dada and got caught for good.[6] The Howrah-Shibpur Trial (1910-11) brought Naren closer to Jatindra Mukherjee.

Naren was present when, at Kolkata, the German Crown Prince promised Jatindra arms and ammunition if there was a war between Germany and Great Britain. Indian revolutionaries in Europe led by Virendranath Chattopadhyay signed a bond of collaboration with the Kaiser’s government. In 1915, Naren and Phani Chakravarti went to Batavia twice, in this connection. The project failed. After pursuing his search of arms through Asia, Naren reached Palo Alto, and changed his name to Manabendra Nath Roy to evade British intelligence. - Manabendra Nath Roy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from M.N. Roy)


Journal Article Excerpt
Terrorism in India during the freedom struggle
by Peter Heehs
Because the Image of Mahatma Gandhi and the ultimate success of his nonviolent methods have dominated western views of the movement for India's independence, many believe that India achieved its freedom without resorting to violence. In fact, violent resistance was preached and practiced throughout the independence movement and had a significant effect on its course and outcome. Gandhi himself was forced to acknowledge the sincerity of revolutionary terrorists. He claimed to admire the patriotism of the terrorists, though he had "no faith whatsoever in their method." Most scholars agree that the existence of terrorism made it easier for Gandhi's nonviolent movement to accomplish its goals. This study of Indian terrorism--its nature, sources, goals, and its relationship with nonviolent resistance--sheds light on both the Indian independence movement in the first half of the twentieth century and the return of terrorism at the end of this century.(1)

The effectiveness of the British in disarming the populace by means of the Arms Act of 1878 made it impossible for Indian revolutionaries to organize large-scale operations. As a result, those who favored violent resistance were drawn into terrorism. Many early writers on the movement preferred the unwieldy coinage "militant nationalism," which might have suited the sort of operation Indian revolutionaries dreamed of--an armed uprising throughout the country. However, they succeeded only once in putting together an organized military force in World War H when the Indian National Army took part in the Japanese invasion of Assam. All other attempts at armed resistance against the British were relatively small-scale acts of covert violence such as armed robberies and assassinations of officials and collaborators. Since 1970, most writers on the Indian freedom movement have used the... Questia: End of free preview... Terrorism in India during the Freedom Struggle - Journal article by Peter Heehs; The Historian, Vol. 55, 1993

Not a single being in flesh and blood who uttered so luminously and magnificently

People have just started to show interest in Sri Aurobindo. Sporadically notwithstanding, there has already been a beginning in the psychologically elite people (in the true sense of the phrase) to know about this great person and to learn about his message to man and his life and world. It is in the expected line as he was as great as to be understood by man the very species he tried to lift from their manhood. In his own country –in India, he is regarded as one of the yogis or spiritual persons only-where there has been no dearth of them in historical time in India. And it is still difficult for conventional spiritual mind to grasp the immensity of Sri Aurobindo’s relevance to spirituality.

It’s because Sri Aurobindo was basically rooted in Life in all its aspects –material and spiritual. Mere spirituality for personal or individual salvation did not attract him. He wanted to act with spiritual power and endeavoured for a radical change in man’s life and to lift him to the higher consciousness than mind. He was the forerunner for the coming of another species-superman, the hidden and inherent destiny of man in the progress of evolution. He came upon earth to aid and to hasten the process of man’s becoming superman. Naturally such a possibility is not conceivable by lesser conscious species –the man- as it was not possible for apes to conceive of crossing the barrier of their own consciousness for attaining manhood.

Sri Aurobindo wrote immensely in this matter. There was not a single being in flesh and blood who uttered so luminously and magnificently after the Upanishads and the Gita about the truths of life and world as Sri Aurobindo did. Moreover he wrote and discussed in all affairs of life-literature, politics, nationalism, religion, history, architecture, science et al. All his lines are filled with the light of wisdom. Whenever he spoke or wrote –he revealed and enlightened with the touch of truth.

I love to read Sri Aurobindo. So it is a delighting work for me to make a collection of quotes from his different writings here and share it with readers. I think a reader will gain from his deep insights and feel to begin reading Sri Aurobindo through his books in original English.

While making this collection I have not maintained any system, order or norm. I like to quote him at random as in this way the casual readers may get some idea of the varied wisdom of Sri Aurobindo in first hand readings. [From Thus Spake Sri Aurobindo Follow this blog ]

December 21, 2008

Meillassoux argues that science is able to think a time that cannot be reduced to any givenness

Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency, Continuum, 2008, 148pp., $19.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780826496744.
Reviewed by
Gabriel Riera, University of Illinois, Chicago

Meillassoux argues that the stakes are high since science is able to think a time that cannot be reduced to any givenness, or that preceded givenness itself and, more importantly, whose emergence made givenness possible. One begins to understand the audacity of these claims insofar as they posit a time radically different from that of consciousness, a time that, due to its indifference, would seem to resist the modern tenets of the inseparability of the act of thinking from its content, thus enabling us to conceive the realms of phenomena and of the in-itself each apart from the other.

Meillassoux's postulates, therefore, aim to break with those of what he refers to as correlationism: the dominant philosophical position that following Kant postulates that our knowledge can engage only with what is given to thought and never with an entity subsisting by itself, and that reaches its exhaustion with Heidegger and Wittgenstein.

This book breaks with modern philosophy in showing that it is science that compels the thinker to discover the source of its own absoluteness. The book therefore deals with two issues -- the arche-fossil and Hume's problem regarding the necessity of the causal connection -- that are linked to the question of the absolute scope of mathematics. The rehabilitation of the mathematical absolute contests three prevalent positions for which the de-absolutization of thought also implies its de-universalization:

  • first, all forms of neo-Kantianism and the different varieties of the contemporary "return to Kant", for whom it is only possible to uncover the universal conditions for an entity's perceptibility;
  • second, the philosophy of "radical finitude" that thinks the facticity of our relation to the world in terms of a situation that is itself finite; and
  • finally, all forms of postmodernism that dismiss any claim to universality as a mystifying relic of old times.

There is no such thing as absolute freedom in life. Neither is there in literary creativity

Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—Objectivity Science, Culture and Integral Yoga on Sat 20 Sep 2008 02:11 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link

Critical Method: Mr. Heehs's reading of the narrative of Sri Aurobindo is in keeping with a currently accepted practice of reading against the grain. Fair enough! However, his claim of an overriding “objectivity” must also be seen carefully against the prevalent view on the subject. The very choice of a subject of research, for instance, the selection and arrangement of “facts” and “evidence”, all come invariably through the prism of the subjective self of a researcher. Words and comments themselves, including those used by Heehs in his latest book, are not value neutral. The decision to rely on one set of evidence to form one's judgement rather than on some other, is also a deeply subjective act. Rather than claiming the high-moral ground of objectivity, the current practice, especially in the post-colonial context, is to be upfront about one's approach and unpack one's ideological predilections in a self reflexive manner at the outset for the reader to see. This is absent in Peter Heehs's biography of Sri Aurobindo, although he seems to indicate some of his preferences now and then. On the whole, however, one finds that evidence is not offered in a neutral a manner for the readers to judge. Quite the contrary, Mr. Heehs interprets events quite constantly while claiming objectivity. Clearly; he cannot have it both ways. [...]

Absolute Freedom of a Writer: Clearly, this is a myth. While book banning and book burning are abhorrent acts and are counterproductive, every author/editor, it is well known, is bound by trade disciplines, contractual agreements and obligations and copyright regulations. Further, a writer writes in a cultural and political context. His/her affiliations to communities and organizations are often cited as “authoritative” or “authentic” texts by publishing houses. Peter's affiliation with the Ashram's archive, as evidenced in the jacket covers/back page blurbs of his published books, or fliers/ promotional literature, are cases in point. For the very same reason, sentiments of a given community, whether one likes them or not, are also important factors that authors and publishers must take into account. As an insider, one must write with care and sensitivity, and not in a spirit of disdain and dismissal. As a custodian of Sri Aurobindo archive, one is surely expected to uphold the trust bestowed upon one self by the institution. SM 8:05 AM

Peter Heehs’s The Lives of Sri Aurobindo—by Raman Reddy
Mirror of Tomorrow on Sun 21 Dec 2008 09:36 AM IST Permanent Link Cosmos

One might remind this puffed-up historian that there is no such thing as “no position” in life, or in academic terms, “pure objectivity”. You always end up taking or even begin with a position or bias in life, whether you like it or not. In historical work, selection of material, the order in which you present it and even the words you use matter immensely to show your academic position or political slant. You cannot pretend to consider negative and positive evidence without defining your position; otherwise you run the risk of either contradicting yourself or not even knowing consciously what stand have you taken. In any case, the reader will place you immediately somewhere in the spectrum of various world-views ranging from spirituality to materialism, and these two views are so different from each other, that you will be classed either as supporting or defending one of them.

Suresh Chandra Chakravorty (Moni)
Regarding Peter Heehs’s Proclamation of Suresh Chakraborty Not Being a Yogi
By Anurag Banerjee The Mother’s Lasso

Many an Aurobindonian has reacted sharply to the controversial biography of Sri Aurobindo titled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo penned by Peter Heehs where he has denounced the fact that Sri Aurobindo was an Avatar. His own beliefs has led him to this conclusion and therefore he has completely ignored what the Mother has said about Sri Aurobindo in her numerous messages. It is true that Sri Aurobindo never declared himself as an Avatar but if one goes through the features of an Avatar, he would easily recognize Sri Aurobindo as the Avatar who had come to carry forward the process of evolution. But Peter Heehs chose to follow his own instincts, convictions and intuition; he preferred to give his own explanation for, after all, he is the self-proclaimed authority on Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Integral Yoga. His own words ‘…because I…know a lot more about him [Sri Aurobindo]…’reflect his true self.

Through his book, Peter Heehs has tried to nullify the greatness of Sri Aurobindo but in vain.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother vis-à-vis Avatarhood and Peter Heehs
Anurag Banerjee The Mother’s Lasso

However, Peter Heehs in his new book on Sri Aurobindo titled The Lives of Sri Aurobindo has dared to denounce Sri Aurobindo as an avatar despite being an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the past thirty-seven years. He went to the extent of saying (p. 380): “Disciples took it for granted that he was an avatar, or incarnation of God. He never made any such claim on his own behalf; on the other hand, he never dissuaded anyone from regarding him in this way.” He wrote his book on Sri Aurobindo based on new materials and records that were “stored in gunny sacks covered with bat droppings, heaped up in an unused attic.” His book, according to him, is unique because all the books written on Sri Aurobindo till date “were based his reminiscences, supplemented by an assortment of secondary sources.” [...]

Thus, in a few words, Peter Heehs has described how he has portrayed Sri Aurobindo in his The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. He has taken into consideration the views of some of the ‘students of religion’ who does not consider Sri Aurobindo to be an avatar. And what about those students and believers who consider Sri Aurobindo an avatar? Has he considered them? [...]

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother hardly declared anything about them openly. Whatever details we know about their inner lives are obtained mainly from their personal writings, correspondence and intimate talks which they had with some of their disciples. It is true that Sri Aurobindo never made any declaration of his being an avatar directly but if one reads his writings, one can easily identify him as an avatar.

December 20, 2008

Is it moral and ethical to "advertise" religious beliefs to children

(title unknown) from Joe Perez's Until by Joe Perez

Religion is a product. Religions are brands. Adherence to religion can be measured by brand loyalty. Religious education is advertising. Is it ethical to advertise to children incapable of making rational distinctions among competing brands? What a great question I never thought of.

Consider this perspective, offered by psychologist Gad Saad, Ph.D., in "The Brand Loyalty of Religion is Unsurpassed" :

One of the benchmarks for determining whether it is ethical to advertise to children is to ask the following question: What is the minimal age at which children have the cognitive capacity to understand the ulterior motives of advertisers, and accordingly to build cognitive defenses against such attempts? This approach is congruent with the work of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget who studied the cognitive developmental stages that children traverse. Whereas there are some cross-cultural differences in terms of the minimal legal age for targeting children, a common benchmark is eight years of age. Hence whilst it is unethical to advertise to young children who are otherwise cognitively unprepared to understand the persuasive intent of advertising messages, it is apparently perfectly moral and ethical to "advertise" one's religious beliefs to children shortly after they make their entrance into the world. It seems that divinely ordained products do not need to conform to the same ethical standards as those imposed on tobacco companies by the FTC, or those forced on movie producers (via movie ratings) by a committee mandated to enforce some fuzzy and ephemeral community standards.

Psychology Today also notes, somewhat ominously, I think:

It is interesting to note that the law stipulates very specific guidelines as to when individuals can have sex, can vote, can get married, can drive, or can drink (as they are otherwise cognitively and emotionally unprepared to partake in the behaviors), yet they are fully "prepared" to be exposed to religious narratives straight out of the womb.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but like the freedom to vote, imbibe, drive, and marry, it's not absolute. Thus, Saad indirectly raises another question: is there a legitimate role of government in regulating the age at which children are permitted to be exposed to religious narratives?

The going answer today is No. But in fifty years? I'm not so sure. I know plenty of adults who, retrospectively, wish they could have avoided indoctrination into their parents' faith.

Globalization eliminates certain barriers, but is still able to build new ones

Does not every one of us sense deep within his or her conscience a call to make a personal contribution to the common good and to peace in society? Globalization eliminates certain barriers, but is still able to build new ones; it brings peoples together, but spatial and temporal proximity does not of itself create the conditions for true communion and authentic peace. Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world's poor through globalization will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights. The Church, which is the “sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” [11] will continue to offer her contribution so that injustices and misunderstandings may be resolved, leading to a world of greater peace and solidarity.

9. In the field of international commerce and finance, there are processes at work today which permit a positive integration of economies, leading to an overall improvement in conditions, but there are also processes tending in the opposite direction, dividing and marginalizing peoples, and creating dangerous situations that can erupt into wars and conflicts. Since the Second World War, international trade in goods and services has grown extraordinarily fast, with a momentum unprecedented in history. Much of this global trade has involved countries that were industrialized early, with the significant addition of many newly- emerging countries which have now entered onto the world stage. Yet there are other low-income countries which are still seriously marginalized in terms of trade. Their growth has been negatively influenced by the rapid decline, seen in recent decades, in the prices of commodities, which constitute practically the whole of their exports. In these countries, which are mostly in Africa, dependence on the exportation of commodities continues to constitute a potent risk factor. Here I should like to renew an appeal for all countries to be given equal opportunities of access to the world market, without exclusion or marginalization...

The history of twentieth-century economic development teaches us that good development policies depend for their effectiveness on responsible implementation by human agents and on the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society and States. Civil society in particular plays a key part in every process of development, since development is essentially a cultural phenomenon, and culture is born and develops in the civil sphere[13].

13. As my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II had occasion to remark, globalization “is notably ambivalent”[14] and therefore needs to be managed with great prudence. This will include giving priority to the needs of the world's poor, and overcoming the scandal of the imbalance between the problems of poverty and the measures which have been adopted in order to address them. The imbalance lies both in the cultural and political order and in the spiritual and moral order. In fact we often consider only the superficial and instrumental causes of poverty without attending to those harboured within the human heart, like greed and narrow vision. The problems of development, aid and international cooperation are sometimes addressed without any real attention to the human element, but as merely technical questions – limited, that is, to establishing structures, setting up trade agreements, and allocating funding impersonally. What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development...

At the start of the New Year, then, I extend to every disciple of Christ and to every person of good will a warm invitation to expand their hearts to meet the needs of the poor and to take whatever practical steps are possible in order to help them. The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: “to fight poverty is to build peace.”
From the Vatican, 8 December 2008.

December 17, 2008

Nietzsche in the 21st century and where we should go from here

Part V: Alyosha and Zarathustra on Com-passion and a Genuine Embodied Life
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

Concluding Remarks
As we have seen, both Dostoevsky and Nietzsche share a number of common themes and concerns-an emphasis on embodied living, a critique of rationalism and reductionistic accounts of human beings, and a high view of mystery. Yet, we have also highlighted the ways in which these authors and their characters differ due to their radically divergent worldviews. Dostoevsky’s Christian faith, though allowing for and even inviting numerous cognitive and emotional tensions, many of which are purposely left unresolved, ultimately presents a hope-filled picture, as the hope produced springs from a source greater than anything a human being could possibly elicit by a sheer force of will.

In contrast, Nietzsche’s account, though rightly speaking against philosophical systems and theories that denigrate the body and emphasize an other-worldly world at the expense of this world, ultimately leaves us with a sense of despair, particularly when one senses that one’s own will to power is inadequate to meet the very real sufferings of this life. Nietzsche’s perception of the loss that comes with widespread secularization in which the cultural consciousness has more or less proclaimed, “God is dead,” as well as his negative critiques of rationalism, scient-ism and nihilism, are no doubt insightful, penetrating and well worth contemplating; however, unlike Dostoevsky, Nietzsche is unable to present a positive response or meaningful suggestion as to where we should go from here. This is not to suggest that Dostoevsky claims to have all the answers or is able to articulate and present a systematic “day wisdom” account. Yet, he does communicate a vision that addresses Nietzsche’s concerns and iconic-ly opens up a space for genuine hope made visible through an active, Incarnate Love, which has a face.

from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro

For Nietzsche demystifies spirituality and the soul, presenting them as effects of physiology and neurology. Thus he allows us to understand all aspects of human culture and mentality as expressions of biological “life.” Further, there is a telling ambiguity in the way that Nietzsche regards “life” so constituted. On the one hand, there is a continual effort to judge, or evaluate, this “life” in terms of sickness and health, descent and ascent, decadence and triumph. In this respect, Nietzsche’s language is akin to that of the Social Darwinism of his time, and it clearly leads into the racist and fascist formulations of the following century. At the same time, Nietzsche affirms the mutability and metamorphosing power of “life”: in this sense, “sickness” is as vital as “health,” and is necessary in order to avoid stagnation; transgression and transformation are posed against the racist, pseudo-biological obsession (which reached its most terrifying expression in Nazism, but which was already prevalent among Nietzsche’s contemporaries) with “purity” and blood lines.

Again, Esposito’s reading is subtle, insightful, and overall unexceptionable. But at the same time, I found myself muttering, over and over again, a weary “so what?”. Whatever the historical value of reading Nietzsche, it is unclear to me that his texts have the same resonance, and the same importance, today in the 21st century that they did at the time of Nazism, or even that they did in France in the 1960s. Esposito refuses to extend his thought beyond the Nietzschean matrix, which he sees as dominating all that came since.

Living Laboratories of the Life Divine by Debashish Banerji
from Science, Culture and Integral Yoga™ by Debashish

What is the post-human destiny to which we are called as humans in contemporary times? In this transcript of a talk given for the AUM conference in Los Angeles in 2003, Debashish Banerji compares Nietzsche's call for the Overman with that announced by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to point to the similarities and differences.

  • How can we pick our way through the maze of choices held up at this end-time of human becoming?
  • Is it by remaining complacent or by using our wills or by surrender to a greater force than ours?
  • And if so, what force - the vitalism of an unconscious Nature-force, the deceptive "universality" of the world market or an unpredictable future which calls our arduous attention?

These and similar questions are posed and discussed in this article.

December 12, 2008

Continental thought might be seen as a set of responses to Kant’s third Critique

Two Orientations of Contemporary Thought
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

It is customary to see contemporary philosophy in terms of a set of responses to Kant.

  • On the one hand, Anglo-American thought is seen in the lineage of Kant’s first Critique; while,
  • on the other hand, Continental thought might be seen as a set of responses to Kant’s third Critique.

But what if the relevant split were not between two different readings and reactions to Kant, nor a response to a geographical division across an ocean? What if, instead, the real split were to be located in those orientations that find their heritage in Descartes, and those orientations that find their orientations in Spinoza? On the one hand, we have those philosophies of the subject that obsess over the relationship of the subject to the object, asserting the transcendence of the object to the subject and endlessly raising questions as to how it might be possible for a subject to relate to the object.

Here we would find the prodigious domain of all those monotonous inquiries into knowledge, all those various forms of skepticism such as linguistic idealism on both sides of the ocean, as well as those political philosophies that argue for the necessity of a subject free of all overdetermination from a social field as in the case of Badiou or Zizek, but even Ranciere and Laclau.

On the other hand, there would be the Spinozist orientation, emphasizing not the subject, but assemblages, holism, fields, relations, and tendencies unfolding within these fields. Here there would be questions about freedom, about how everything is not already overdetermined by the organization of the field, and how the project of critique might be possible within a universe where individuation always implies a pre-personal field.

Today we even have our Leibniz in Graham Harman who has resurrected occasional causality without God under the title of “vacuous causation”, defending the rights of the object against any subjectifying gaze, thereby trying to strike a middle way. Would situating critical thought in these terms function to shift debate at all, taking it out of the endless rut of variations of Kantian correlationism and attempts to move beyond this form of correlationism? Yet were we to take this route, how would we have to transform the questions of epistemology? Already in the case of Spinoza, it is clear that epistemological questions bleed on to ontological questions, such that we must think of the formation of bodies as they “grock” with the world.

Part IV: Alyosha and Zarathustra on Com-passion and a Genuine Embodied Life
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

In a section entitled, “The Leech,” Zarathustra introduces us to a man, who identifies himself as “the conscientious in spirit,” and who appears to be a philosopher-scientist of the materialist variety. He tells Zarathustra that it is “better to be a fool on one’s own than a sage according to the opinion of others.”[1] This philosopher-scientist seeks an Archimedean point upon which to stand. That is, he wants a solid “ground and foundation” that doesn’t rely on mere authority and misguided tradition, and this requires him to “pursue the leech to its ultimate grounds.”[2]

Here it is worth mentioning that Hegel, even more rigorously than Descartes, attempted to construct a philosophical position-more specifically, a presupposition-less logic (cf. Philosophy of Logic-in which one must put all previous philosophical and religious suppositions to the test, questioning even the very principles of logic (e.g., principle of non-contradiction). The conscientious man, in a way similar to Descartes and Hegel, pursues the “leech,” which is a metaphor for various philosophical, religious and scientific systems whose claims, like the leech, demand or have the potential to demand our life blood. Interestingly, the conscientious man goes on to say, “in the conscience of science there is nothing great and nothing small.”[3]

There needs to be some sort of open access policy for scholarship in the humanities

Copyright, again
from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro - I believe that fair use guidelines extend considerably further than this, and I will simply not publish with a press that restricts fair use so harshly. Not only am I not allowed by this sort of policy to disseminate my own words, I am also not allowed to remix the words of others.

I can get more readers for anything I post on this blog than for an article published under such circumstances; so what’s the point? I realize I am in a privileged position in this regard; I already have tenure and a senior position at my university, so I am not faced with the “publish or perish” situation that forces many (junior or younger) academics to agree to publication under such horrible circumstances with regard either to price and availability, or the right to be able to disseminate their own work on the web and elsewhere.

There obviously needs to be some sort of open access policy for scholarship in the humanities, as there already is to a great extent in the sciences. We don’t really get paid for our writing, except very indirectly in the sense that a scholarly reputation increases your “marketability” and hence the kind of salary you can get as a professor. In these cases, the policies of presses like Continuum (which I am singling out here only because of my own dealings with them; many other academic presses are just as bad) serve the interests neither of writers nor of readers.

I don’t have a blueprint of how to get there (open access) from here (restrictive copyright arrangements), but a first step would be for those academics who, like me, can afford to forgo the lines on their vitas, to refuse to publish with presses that have such policies. Deleuze, Guattari, and the Production of the New, # Difference and Givenness: Deleuze's Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence (Topics in Historical Philosophy)

To think is to be affected by one's own receptiveness and experience

Part IV: Alyosha and Zarathustra on Com-passion and a Genuine Embodied Life
from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

Even if one became convinced of this interpretation, as Williams points out, it still leaves us with the nagging question of how exactly the claims of faith connect with the “ensemble of facts” of this world? In other words, do Christ’s claim (the claims of faith) merely have the power to transform a person’s individual, moral “inner space” while leaving the world at large-whether the claims of science, the “facts” of history or the moral chaos and injustice so prevalent in the world-untouched? Questions like these take us immediately to the famous “Grand Inquisitor,” section of Brothers Karamazov, to which we now turn.

The Multitudo that Inheres to the Power of Thought as Such
from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak
Agamben says, in Form of Life:

I call thought the nexus that constitutes the forms of life in an inseparable context as form-of-life. I do not mean by this the individual exercise of an organ of a psychic faculty, but rather an experience, an experimentum that has as its object the potential character of life and of human intelligence. To think does not mean merely to be affected by this or that thing, by this or that content of enacted thought, but rather at once to be affected by one's own receptiveness and experience in each and every thing that is thought a pure power of thinking. ("When thought has become each thing in the way in which a man who actually knows is said to do so. . . its condition is still one of potentiality. . . and thought is then able to think of itself.")

Rancière comments, "Lyotard contends that the task of the avant-garde is to isolate art from cultural demand so that it may testify all the more starkly to the heteronomy of thought" (The Aesthetic Revolution and its Outcomes: Emplotments of Autonomy and Heteronomy, p. 134).

Improbably the plus one, as in "infinity plus one," will be revealed as something other than thought.

New Year Classroom Resolutions from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

The point here is not that philosophers are always right or that they can never be mistaken. Rather, the idea behind this foreclosure of words like “opinion” and “perception” and their replacement by terms like “argument” and “claim”, is to draw student attention to supporting reasons for claims or how thinkers arrive at claims. In other words, one does not argue against a position by setting another position beside it like too books on a bookcase, but instead strives to demonstrate the presence of contradictions, false premises, invalid or weak arguments, etc.

December 05, 2008

His Withdrawal was a turning point in the history of Evolution. It was the first step of human victory over Death

AntiMatters: New Issue Released
by Ulrich Mohrhoff Review of Carter: Parapsychology and the Skeptics, PDF. Ulrich J Mohrhoff. 145-153. Book excerpts. Will the Real Charles Darwin Please Stand Up? PDF. David Loye, 155-185. Intuition and Human Knowledge, PDF. Sri Aurobindo. 187-204. The new issue of AntiMatters is out
by koantum AntiMatters is an open-access e-journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives. It is published quarterly by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry. ...

The Withdrawal of Sri Aurobindo
by Barindranath Chaki On 9th December 1950, the Body of Sri Aurobindo was finally kept inside the Samadhi in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram premises. As is known universally, He passed away, medically, on 5th December 1950. Many, including The Mother Herself, ... All choice

Sri Aurobindo and the New Millennium A Long Way - P V Narasimha Rao by P V Narasimha Rao A Long Way - PV Narasimha Rao (by PV Narasimha Rao)

India, Terror, and Human Unity
10 hours ago by Holly Jean Buck excerpt from the epic poem Savitri, by Sri Aurobindo, which rings the library. excerpt from the epic poem Savitri, by Sri Aurobindo, which rings the library. one of the many pavilions, so often empty. one of the many pavilions, ...The Walrus Blogs References

December 04, 2008

If students do not disagree; it’s brainwashing. Without dissent, science fails

Worrying Developments In Universities from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy
Miranda Devine writes in the Sydney Morning Herald (4 December) HERE: “Monoculture is killing thought

Comment: Silencing views which are disputed is outrageous. The recent disputes about ‘global warming’ – now moved in name to ‘climate change’ – are a case in point. We have charges of ‘climate denial’, disputes about what has not yet happened and is not beyond doubt until it happens. Charges of ‘Holocaust denial’ are about denying what actually happened and is beyond doubt. When charges are made of 'climate denial, they aim to blacken the reputation of those who remain sceptical that it will happen on the scale envisaged in the near future. We are assured that the science of climate change is now 'settled'; funny that I keep meeting academics who are not so sure. Indeed, if the science is so united, why is it necessary to enforce a one-sided view? When everybody believes the same, who is left to do the thinking?

The lonely furrow I plough in Lost Legacy is against the majority of our profession’s consensus about what Adam Smith wrote and thought, but I am not derided as far as I know, nor discouraged from continuing.

True, I am not longer looking for an academic post and for most of my academic career I refused tenure, which incidentally was brought in to protect non-Church of England academics (non-conformists, Quakers, Catholics and Jews) in their jobs as professors in a British academic system where the Established Church had a monopoly of all appointments up to the early 19th century. Tenure moved on to becoming a restrictive practice in itself, much like the old Guilds that Adam Smith railed against with great justice.

This gave and gives me an independence from seeking privileges or being intimidated into conformity. Those still young enough to think they must kowtow to the prevailing orthodoxy, whether of the Left or the Right, or the creationist'evolutionary schools, should reflect on what they are doing.

Students who craft their course work to fit their lecturers’ take on subjects are no better in their judgement than those students one knew about who exchanged sexual favours to get better grades (a practice rightly condemned by feminist colleagues I worked with).

Moreover, those lecturers who silently accept course work from most of their students which agrees with their own prejudices should reflect that there is something wrong with their teaching (and lack of thinking). If students do not disagree with the prevailing orthodoxy which they teach, they should be concerned and troubled. That is not education; it’s brainwashing. Without dissent, science fails.

Reason and hubris (by Russell Roberts) from Cafe Hayek by Russell Roberts
If you have to choose between irrationality and reason, it is easy to choose reason. But how do you keep a faith in reason from developing into hubris? How can any economist today argue for say, a stimulus package, with any confidence? Or a further lowering of interest rates by the Fed? I can see making it as a suggestion. But how would you argue for it with passion? Doesn't the current situation and the inability of macroeconomists to predict it (or to have any certainty about whether we are going to have a mild recession or a serious Depression) suggest some humility?

I've been thinking about humility after listening to part of this talk by Harvey Mansfield (where he takes on the nudgers, Sunstein and Thaler) and after hearing Deirdre McCloskey give a talk last night. McCloskey summed up some social engineering scheme as "I'm from the social sciences and I'm here to help you."

Of course some social science is helpful. It is good to be self-aware (psychology) or aware of incentives and markets (economics). But our ability to socially engineer this outcome or that and our ability to anticipate the consequences is pretty lousy. We (social scientists) could use more humility and less hubris.