November 22, 2009

American students have a sort of automatic historico-critical approach

on teaching in Egypt from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek

in all three places I taught in English. The spoken English of the students is at a very high level in both Amsterdam and Cairo, though the written English may not be quite as grammatically perfect as with native speakers (and in many cases it is, just not all cases). [...]

Philosophy is an ultra-cool major in the Netherlands, with around 140 freshman philosophy students at the University of Amsterdam when I was there. They throw a gigantic all-night party every year, mixing live music with philosophy lectures in an old squat. In Egypt, educational pressures in families are more toward business and engineering, so the small number of Philosophy majors tend to be either highly independent types or else students from unusually Westernized families. [...]

Egyptian students will take things seriously that aren’t always taken seriously in classrooms in the West. For instance, I always sense a certain critical distance among American students when considering something like Socrates’s arguments for the immortality of the soul in the Phaedo. American students have a sort of automatic historico-critical approach: “that’s what the Greeks believed in that time,” etc. Here, it is refreshing to see Egyptian students actually grappling with the various proofs and either accepting or dismissing them rather than historicizing them.

Re: In Defence of the “Extracts from The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs” —Raman Reddy by auroman on Sat 03 Jan 2009 11:50 PM IST Permanent Link IMHO, we need to understand the Western mindset to understand why most of them see this issue differently.

1) Those brought up in the West, or who have acquired a Western world-view seem to think that this book issue is some battle between freedom and repression, which it is not. If you tell them not to do something, they immediately cry out "censorship". The fight against communism and other forms of repression has colored their view of everything else.

2) The tradition in the West since the sixties sexual revolution is that "we must have an open discussion about everything". This extends to sexual matters as well "whats wrong with talking openly about sex?" or "lets give condoms to children instead of telling them not to do it". They don't see anything wrong with discussing Sri Aurobindo's sex life, even though it may seem offensive to Indian sensibilities.

3) There is no natural atmosphere of Bhakti in schools or homes. Prayer in schools is discouraged. Children are focussed on debates, sports and community leadership. That is why they might assume that all the people who oppose the book are being emotional or unreasonable. It is this background of lack of humility or Bhakti that we must consider. 7:52 PM

Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Rationalism and the yogic life
by Debashish on Mon 29 Sep 2008 10:23 AM PDT Permanent Link

Re. the present flurry of attacks against the book and its author, at the risk of over-simplification, I may add what seems obvious - that differences in cultural psychology between modern western and Indian habitus lies at the foundation of the matter. But with this as basis, certain collective formations have grown up.

On the Indians' side, this has taken the form of an unconscious religiosity whose bane is the self-righteous orthodoxy of worship and the aggressive policing of largely self-created and interpreted myths and whose detrimental effect is that the growth of consciousness is obscured and the non-religious see only a stereotypical structure of hyperbole which they reject even before having a chance to see the solutions which have been offered.

On the westerners' side it is an insistence on "fact" and an analysis of objective facts on the basis of reason and an infants' psychology. This is what has been happening on a large scale in western scholarship of late and it is largely to this audience that Peter's book has been addressed. In doing so, he has naturally offended the Indian sentiments and in anticipating and answering the western analytical framework, has sometimes acknowledged these approaches, which has raised eyebrows. 9:32 AM

November 19, 2009

J. Krishnamurti, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Aurobindo

EMBRACING TRANSCENDENCE IN SOUTH INDIA 15-28 January 2010 AMIT GOSWAMI, PH.D. Quantum Physicist and UMA KRISHNAMURTHY, M.D. Yoga Psychologist Pilgrimage Information: www.greatmystery.org/events/india2010.html
"THE WORLD IS PREPARING FOR A BIG CHANGE. WILL YOU HELP?" —Sri Aurobindo

We are indeed fortunate that two internationally prominent and powerful teachers are leading and inspiring this group of spiritual pilgrims coming together in January in the warmth and beauty of South India.

Both Uma Krishnamurthy and Amit Goswami have throughout their lives enjoyed associating with and learning from the teachings of the realized masters of South India, notably, J. Krishnamurti, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Aurobindo.

One of the primary destinations during the pilgrimage will be the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, South India. Among the many sayings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which are posted throughout the ashram, the following is typical: "The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?"

According to Sri Aurobindo's vision, this change refers to the advance of human and cosmic evolution. Sri Aurobindo�s personal life and philosophy of Integral Yoga attest to the fact that this transformation can only come about by man's cooperation with the Supermind. The one aim of Aurobindo's Yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinise human nature.

If ordinary people really knew that consciousness and not matter is the link that connects uswith each other and the world, then their views about war and peace, environmental pollution, social justice,religious values, and all other human endeavors would change radically.Amit Goswami from The Self-Aware Universe

OUR SOUTH INDIA EXPERIENCE
The cosmology flowing from India has strongly impacted our understanding of God, consciousness, and existence. Of significant influence are the evolved ideas of South India mystics Sri Aurobindo, J. Krishnamurti, and Sri Ramana Maharshi. On our pilgrimage to South India we will visit their ashrams and centres, journey to shrines and through sacred landscapes, expand our hearts, enliven our senses, and renew our sense of self and purpose.

Guiding this journey is quantum physicist Amit Goswami, a practitioner of spirituality and transformation who was featured in the film “What The Bleep Do We Know?!”; and renown yoga psychologist and child psychiatrist Uma Krishnamurthy whose spiritual roots stem from being born into a family of Indian Theosophists. In addition to discussions and dialogues, Dr. Goswami will initiate us in quantum activism, a new integral (karma) yoga for re-establishing spirituality in our society. Dr. Krishnamurthy will lead experiential sessions using yogic tools such as hatha yoga practices, chanting of mantras, meditation, and classical Indian dance, allowing us to explore the realms of superconscious states. No prior experience is necessary and these sessions are optional.

ADDITIONAL WRITINGS... The Pure Non-Dual Essence —Sri Ramana Maharshi The World is Preparing for a Big Change. Will You Help?" —Sri Auorbindo The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World Amit Goswami—A Pioneer of the New Paradigm J. Krishnamurti - The Core of the Teachings Spirituality with Splendor in South India a welcome letter from Uma and Amit with an overview of our journey
For more information: Call (1) 505 559 4632 or (44) 020 8133 4994 email:
annie.tm @ greatmystery.org

November 18, 2009

April 4th, 2010 marks the 100 year anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Puducherry

Inviting Submissions for Special Issue of SACAR journal, New Race (March-April 2010)‏
by Yoga Meditation India on November 18, 2009
Dear Friends of SACAR,
Hope this letter finds you all in good health and cheerful spirits!

We write this letter with a very specific request and invitation. As you are all aware that April 4th, 2010 marks the 100 year anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondicherry. As a gesture of our deep gratitude and love for Sri Aurobindo, we at SACAR have been planning some events to mark this special occasion. One of the ways we would like to pay our salutation to Sri Aurobindo on this momentous day—momentous for India and the future of the world itself—is by bringing out a special issue of our publication, New Race: A Journal of Integral Studies.

In this special issue, titled “Sri Aurobindo and the Next Future of India”, we invite you all to participate in a comprehensive reappraisal of Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to India’s Nation-soul in all its multi-dynamism. We solicit articles and essays by our students, facilitators, friends and well-wishers of SACAR, in which they not only consider their idealistic hopes and dreams for the future of India, but also engage in a thorough and original analysis of the given theme in the light of a realistic appraisal of the dreams and pursuits of present and future generations of India. [...]

We hope that this special issue of New Race becomes a vehicle for such original thinking among all those who love and care for the future destiny of India, and who aspire to consciously participate in a genuine resurgence of the true Indian Spirit. A spiritual revitalization of Indian hearts and minds is necessary not only for the sake of India’s future and her destined mission in the world, but for the future of the humanity and earth itself.

With this objective in front, we encourage our writers to dig deep into their minds and hearts, to go beyond the surface-level readings and interpretations of present developments and limiting portrayals of India, and to earnestly search for the deeper truth that is trying to reveal itself in India’s onward march, to explore the critical role that the present and future generations of Indians must play in her genuine renaissance, and to critically investigate into the present and future forms in which will be manifested the eternal Nation-soul of Mother India.

We give below some broad guidelines and suggestions for your consideration:
1. We highly encourage you to present in your essays an in-depth reappraisal of Sri Aurobindo’s thought and vision which can help India move towards her next spiritual destiny.
2. Depending on your interest, you may either focus your essay around one of the following suggested topics or any other topic of personal choice as long as it fits within the scope of the general theme of the special issue, as described above.
[...]

We look forward to your participation in this endeavour of SACAR. If there are any questions or comments, please let us know. Warm regards,
Beloo Mehra, PhD Academic Programmes SACAR, Pondicherry www.sacar.in
You can send your submissions to beloome(at the rate)gmail(dot)com Masa –
SACAR Newsletter November 2009

November 15, 2009

Devotionalism is not the only possible approach to Sri Aurobindo

Introduction Letters Letter to the Managing Trustee, from Peter Heehs
25 September 2008

My first biography of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography, was published by Oxford University Press in 1989. It has been reprinted at least five times since then. It was well received abroad, in India and even, for the most part, in the ashram.

I began work seriously on a proposed larger biography of Sri Aurobindo sometime in the late 1990s, using material and notes I had accumulated since the early 1970s. My purpose in writing it was, in brief, to enlarge the biographical narrative I published in 1989. I hoped to have the new biography published by a major US university press. The audience I imagined for it were the sort of people who read books published by university presses. My primary intention was to bring the life, works, philosophy and yoga of Sri Aurobindo to an audience who had either never heard of him or had only a hazy idea of who he was and what he had done.

Here I may remark that there is an appalling lack of interest in Sri Aurobindo in academic circles and, more generally, in the world at large (by this I mean the world outside the ashram and the wider Sri Aurobindo community in India and abroad). When interest appears, it often is based on a distorted idea of his life and thought.

For example, when Sri Aurobindo is cited by politicians and political journalists, it usually is as a supposed forefather of the modern Hindu Right. The Right adopts him; the Left condemns him for being adopted by the Right. Nobody actually reads his works with the exception of a handful of extracts from his speeches that are presented out of context.

I have gone to the trouble of writing several articles to show that both the Right and the Left get Sri Aurobindo wrong. The same sort of misunderstanding is apparent when Sri Aurobindo is cited in discussions of literature, philosophy, and spirituality. I have always considered this unfortunate.

Part of my aim in writing a biography was to correct the distortions and misunderstandings about Sri Aurobindo that had arisen in such fields.

Another part of my aim was to speak to potential readers who were unable to approach Sri Aurobindo through the promotional literature mentioned above. Much of this literature may be termed “devotional”. It should be clearly understood that I have no problem with devotional literature as such. Devotion – true bhakti, that is – plays a very important role in Sri Aurobindo’s synthesis of yoga. A large number of people seem to benefit from reading devotional literature about Sri Aurobindo. This doesn’t trouble me at all. But I do believe that devotionalism is not the only possible approach to Sri Aurobindo. I could cite innumerable passages from his writings to support this belief.

What I wanted to do in my book and my other writings was to open an approach to Sri Aurobindo for people who were not born with the devotional temperament or, if they were, wanted to extend their seeking beyond mere devotionalism, in the spirit of the integral yoga.

As my proposed book was not intended for devotees, I did not start with the preconceived notion that Sri Aurobindo was born a divine being or avatar whose outward or human side was only of secondary interest. The people I wanted to reach were not the sort of people who would accept such a preconception. [...]

If I began by saying that he was a star athlete and model of fortitude and probity, nobody would have given any credit to my later positive assertions – assuming they even bothered to read the book that far. I could give many other examples of strategic concession used in my book as a means to strengthen my positive evaluations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s life and works. But I want to turn to the second technique, which I will call anticipating and refuting objections.

Getting beyond the Conventions of Biography – and Hagiography Too: A Post by Peter Heehs
The following post is by Peter Heehs, author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo August 4th, 2008

What about the assertion that Aurobindo was an avatar? I can’t say that the question interests me very much. Aurobindo never claimed the distinction for himself, and I don’t think anyone alive is in a position to say one way or the other.

The Aurobindo that interests me is the one who turned from a life of hectic action to a life of contemplation, but was able, during his forty-year retirement, to write a shelf full of books on philosophy, political theory, and textual criticism, along with thousands of letters and, yes, that epic in iambic pentameter. People will continue to differ about the significance of his work, but its very mass is there for all to see. His life as a yogi and spiritual leader is more difficult to quantify, but it certainly will not be forgotten soon. I tried to do justice to all sides of this versatile man, but to do so I had to be unconventional in more ways than one. Posted by Columbia University Press in Asian Studies, Postings by Authors, Religion

November 13, 2009

Sri Aurobindo has been the love of my life for years

Fall 2009 edition of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice - Roger Walsh - THE STATE OF THE INTEGRAL ENTERPRISE Roger outlines some of the afflictions common to Integral living—including complacency and stagnation in our growth, shadow games and ego posturing, developmental allergies and aversions, and the dangers of when our knowledge and conceptual understanding begins to outpace our wisdom, experience, and insight.
Some Important Modern Pioneers: Baldwin, Habermas, Aurobindo, and Maslow
ArticleContributor: Ken Wilber
Some Important Modern Pioneers: Baldwin, Habermas, Aurobindo, and Maslow From Integral Psychology by Ken Wilber What I ... to mention James Mark Baldwin, ]iirgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo, and Abraham Maslow. James Mark Baldwin ...
Current Status AudioContributors: Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber
... the remarkable 20th century Indian philosopher-sage, Sri Aurobindo, explained the difficulty of communicating Aurobindo’s path and perspective as follows: This is why ...
An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century ArticleContributor: Sean Esbjorn-Hargens
... and includes integral thinkers such as Jean Gebser, Sri Aurobindo, Ken Wilber, and Ervin Laszlo. In contrast, integral theory is a ...
Potential Traps AudioContributors: Roger Walsh and Ken Wilber
... the remarkable 20th century Indian philosopher-sage, Sri Aurobindo, explained the difficulty of communicating Aurobindo’s path and perspective as follows: This is why ...
Integral Theory Is Complemented by Archie J. Bahm's Organicism Blog Post
... Whitehead and of Eastern philosophers like Shankara, Sri Aurobindo and Nagarjuna. We can also say that it came about as part of a ...
Esalen, Aurobindo, and Integral Practice AudioContributors: Michael Murphy and Ken Wilber
... his uniquely vast knowledge of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo (a spiritual-integral pioneer of the first order). For Ken, he just ...
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(Integral Radio, Editorial, Hinduism, History) ...
Eidyn Taliesin Member Page
... and supracosmic." — Sri Aurobindo - The Life Divine http://www.lulu.com/content/7508338 ...
The Writings of Ken Wilber: Essays, Forewords, and Works-In-Progress SeriesContributor: Ken Wilber
... Some Important Modern Pioneers: Baldwin, Habermas, Aurobindo, and Maslow The Deconstruction of the World Trade Center ...
Eric Daigle Member Page
... traditions. Turns out my wife's father visited Aurobindo and The Mother in Auroville back in the day and that her ... 123456next ›last »
Habermas Blog Post
... to: Some Important Modern Pioneers: Baldwin, Habermas, Aurobindo, and Maslow I'm very glad that Ken Wilber is influenced by ...
response to linda's tweet Blog Post
... .. and when he found about allan watts .. krishnamurti .. aurobindo .. etc .. at his young ripe age in his early twenties .. he became ...
Cameron Bonardi Member Page
Live within; be not shaken by outward happenings. -Aurobindo My Profile ...
What is Faith? AudioContributors: Roland Stanich and Ken Wilber
... lines include cogntion (studied by Piaget and Aurobindo), values (studied by Graves, Beck, and Cowan), self identity (studied ...
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... to: Some Important Modern Pioneers: Baldwin, Habermas, Aurobindo, and Maslow From here on out, I am going to be doing my ...
A Modified Wilber-Combs Lattice? Blog Post
... get into third tier, it comes with the territory. I use Aurobindo’s term “Supermind” to describe the highest ...
The Secret to Transformation SeriesContributors: Michael Murphy and Ken Wilber
Pieces: Esalen, Aurobindo, and Integral Practice Core Integral Practices and the ...
General Discussion: What Is Faith? Blog Post
... lines include cogntion (studied by Piaget and Aurobindo), values (studied by Graves, Beck, and Cowan), self identity (studied ...
New Atheism as Mysticism Blog Post
... most realized mystics such as Meister Eckhart or Sri Aurobindo… Sam Harris on Buddhist ...
rebecca kerschen Member Page
... enough already-and rushed to blazes long ago...SRI AUROBINDO; letters on yoga,1958 i have been a seeker since ... a painter for 28. i am currently reading SRI AUROBINDO, or the ADVENTURE of CONSCIOUSNESS by SATPREM. i have learned ...
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... Wilber The Secret to Transformation. Part 1. Esalen, Aurobindo, and Integral Practice 40:21 Willow Pearson, Diane ...
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... down to today's newer wisdom traditions, from Aurobindo to Adi Da to Hameed Almaas. All of them, without exception, postulate ... worldviews (from shamanism to Plotinus to Padmasambhava to Aurobindo) can be reanimated and utilized within a broader, non-metaphysical ...
Louise Rosenberg Member Page
... years I have been attending classes with a follower of Sri Aurobindo's teachings. I find that meditating in a group and receiving ...
Boomeritis Sidebar B: The Many Names of the Levels of Consciousness ArticleContributor: Ken Wilber
... developmental line of values. Sometimes we use Aurobindo’s terms (lower mind, higher mind, illumined mind, overmind, ...
The new issue of AntiMatters is out (Vol 2 No 4 December 2nd 2008) Blog Post
... Intuition and Human Knowledge PDF Sri Aurobindo AntiMatters is an open-access e-journal addressing ... perspectives. It is published quarterly by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, India. ...
Kathryn Ehnebuske Member Page
All life is yoga - Sri Aurobindo About Me 54 years old, meditator for 34 years, fan of Ken Wilbur for 20, avid student of Sri Aurobindo for last 7 years. 2 hour daily yoga/meditation ...
lgdvl73 Member Page
... practicing Bikram Yoga and studying the works of Sri Aurobindo. I of course, adore Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality and anything ...
Joel Kreisberg Member Page
... is affected by and affects all our environments. - Aurobindo About Me I am the Founder and Executive ...
Does God Act in the World? Blog Post
... - that is, until I discovered Teilhard de Chard, Sri Aurobindo, Whitehead, Frank Tipler and then Ken Wilber... at which point the ...
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... from Stanford University, and lived for a year at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. In 1980, he helped initiate Esalen's ... Search results
AntiMatters — an open-access e-journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from non-materialistic perspectives Blog Post
AntiMatters is published by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry, India. About: ...
Where We Are Today, Who We Might Be Tomorrow AudioContributors: Susanne Cook-Greuter and Ken Wilber
... of these broad states of consciousness. Drawing upon Aurobindo’s levels, Ken explains that as one grows into the Illumined ...
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... the works of Jean Gebser, Teihard de Chardin, and Sri Aurobindo and the German Idealist are being revived, customers demand organic ...
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... Waldo Emerson, Lewis Turco, T.S. Eliot, Harold Bloom, Sri Aurobindo, and Patrick Laude, among others. His own poetry is predominantly ...
Soul Mind Transcendence Comment
... and maybe Rupert Sheldrake speaking of this, partly via Aurobindo's proposals in the past. But as I hear you, I can allow the ...
Win Phelps Member Page
... lover, father, son, and husband, long-time student of Sri Aurobindo, a wilderness rites-of-passage guide and trainer. He has been (among ...
full circle, sometimes means fuller circle Comment
... chief turning points in human evolution; i think it was Aurobindo who pointed out that when the notion of evolution arose from the ...
Levels Comment
... (as well as most of the others Gilligan/Kohlberg/Piaget/Aurobindo ect)... if you really want a good grasp of this stuff I'd encourage ...
Re:How do you relate to Spirit? Comment
... occurs in this sense in (to name but a few) Anthroposophy, Aurobindo, A Course In Miracles, Hegel, 642-587 and Ken Wilber. In this ...
That is the question ! Comment
... works of Teilhard de Chard and Whitehead as of late, but Aurobindo has been the love of my life for years ! Until KEN.....that borders ... Search results
Win Phelps Member Page
... lover, father, son, and husband, long-time student of Sri Aurobindo, a wilderness rites-of-passage guide and trainer. He has been (among ...
full circle, sometimes means fuller circle Comment
... chief turning points in human evolution; i think it was Aurobindo who pointed out that when the notion of evolution arose from the ...
Levels Comment
... (as well as most of the others Gilligan/Kohlberg/Piaget/Aurobindo ect)... if you really want a good grasp of this stuff I'd encourage ...
Re:How do you relate to Spirit? Comment
... occurs in this sense in (to name but a few) Anthroposophy, Aurobindo, A Course In Miracles, Hegel, 642-587 and Ken Wilber. In this ...
That is the question ! Comment
... works of Teilhard de Chard and Whitehead as of late, but Aurobindo has been the love of my life for years ! Until KEN.....that borders ...
Update Comment
... and was published in an online-journal by the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry, India. Here's the ...
Developmental Structuralism Comment
... influential thinkers are Jean Gebser, Ken Wilber, and Sri Aurobindo, respectively. I have also studied Jean Piaget and William ...
on being radical Comment
... with insightful persons such as Charles Darwin and Sri Aurobindo, who turned out to be game changers, in that their lives and works ...
On names and other personal arcana. . . Comment
... Rudhyar, where i was first alerted to the works of Sri Aurobindo. His Life Divine , and Integral Yoga , were both illuminating ...
4-Q stack, states, subtle energies Comment
... between involution and evolution. I think that's what Aurobindo must have had in mind with the psychic being, which, in Michael ...
An Integral Approach to Occultism Comment
... etc. I am an avid reader of both Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo. I practice Bikram Yoga, and I am a practicing occultist. ...
Transparency, Vulnerability, and the Universal Voice Comment
... voice." It sounds like you might be referring to what Aurobindo called the "psychic being" or Ken Wilber the "deeper ...
Hello Comment
... Supermind: ( Supermind in Sri Aurobindo 's philosophy refers to the infinite unitary truth-consciousness ...
musing on your latest. . . Comment
... third person or 'it' view; substituting instead Aurobindo's usage, The Divine.) Warmly, Charles ...
A Bit More Information Comment
... with and that is it? Does everyone in your vicinity ooze Aurobindo, Gebser, or Wilber quotes? Does the local grocery store clerk ...
« first‹ previous123456 Integral Life is the leader of the deep lifestyle movement, helping people live more free and whole lives using integral philosophy, the first genuine world philosophy for the 21st century. Purchase the Fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice

He Called It “Utopia”: The Transhumanism of Jameson & Aurobindo

I conclude by discussing the work of Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, whose own understanding of collective intelligence often mirrors the model I find in Jameson. That said, Aurobindo’s access to the Vedic tradition affords him a better ability to move through the impasse that Jameson’s theories are stuck in. [...]

At this point, we will turn to discussing the collective intelligence of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo as a possible way out of the bind that Jameson’s Utopian project finds itself in. Aurobindo, as a youth, was involved in the early days of the Swaraj movement and is now widely credited with first having introduced the idea of home rule to the nationalist movement in India. After being tried under false charges of violence, Aurobindo retired from politics and spent the remainder of his life in his ashram in Pondicherry writing dense books of personal and cosmic philosophy. In a lengthy career as a writer, Aurobindo produced a number of works on collective intelligence, but the one most often mentioned as his masterpiece is The Life Divine, first published in serial form between 1914 and 1919.

In it, Aurobindo lays out a theory of the human that, based on the Vedas, posits a field of collective being that he calls “the supramental.” We, as humans, have lost our awareness of this original unity through careful Yogic practice can regain access to this field. Additionally, Aurobindo borrows Bergson’s concept of “creative evolution” to suggest that collective being within the realm of the supramental is the evolutionary destiny of mankind. [...]

Without recourse to the spiritual and, specifically, a discourse that suggests a way to move from a personal, subjective experience of collective intelligence, Jameson’s Utopia becomes stalled. By juxtaposing two very similar visions of collective intelligence in Sri Aurobindo and Fredric Jameson, we can begin to see a way out of the quagmire in which Jameson’s postmodern Marxist project finds itself stuck. andrew.pilsch.com Andrew Pilsch is a graduate fellow at The Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on the rhetorical history and legacy of cybernetics in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with specific interest in science fiction, emerging media, poststructuralism, and postmodernism. He currently teaches composition courses for the English Department at Penn State that make use of a range of digital technologies, including wikis.

Yahoo! Groupes: Groups Discussing mr excel Yahoo! Groups Message from Group Moderator

Geometrical order and divine proportion can be found throughout the universe, hence also in rising and falling patterns of financial markets. Sri Aurobindo explained it this way: "Nature does not impose a pattern or a rule from outside; she implies life to grow within and to assert its own law and development modified only by the involvement with its environment"

These pages provide studies, data and applications mainly related to the understanding of Astro-, Fibonacci-, Elliott- & Gann-techniques of market-analysis. In the files-section of this group you'll find a multitude of documents and information on such phenomena. Sharing information is the spirit of our Time-Price-Research Project. Enjoy this page and feel free to contribute your ideas, questions, comments, data, links, documents, etc. Trade Well Georg Mayer Sep. 18, 2003 Tarija, Bolivia P.S.: There are 5 TPR-groups: Time-Price-Research-II is dedicated especially to the original scripts and books of Mr. W.D. Gann. Time-Price-Research-III offers selected astronomical, astrological and astro-financial-studies. Time-Price-Research-IV is dedicated to the study of market cycles. Time-Price-Research-V holds Excel-Spreadsheets, Data-Files & Tools. Spammers will have their posts deleted and will be removed from the member-list. Time-Price-Research-I

[PDF] Philosophies of Evolution : PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View ... anti-matters.org
Four Faces of the Universe: An Integrated View of the Cosmos - Google Books Result
by Robert Kleinman - 2007 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 334 pages... to reduce him to a philosopher would miss Sri Aurobindo 's status as a great seer and fully accomplished yogi. His spiritual collaborator and compeer, ...

November 12, 2009

There must be a simpler generative matrix underlying surface complexity

No solutions from Cafe Hayek by Russ Roberts

Thomas Sowell has said that economics helps you understand that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs. In that spirit, I want to recommend Arnold Kling’s study of the financial crisis, Not What They Had in Mind. My favorite quote from the essay is a variant on Sowell’s:

The lesson is that financial regulation is not like a math problem, where once you solve it the problem stays solved. Instead, a regulatory regime elicits responses from firms in the private sector. As financial institutions adapt to regulations, they seek to maximize returns within the regulatory constraints. This takes the institutions in the direction of constantly seeking to reduce the regulatory “tax” by pushing to amend rules and by coming up with practices that are within the letter of the rules but contrary to their spirit. This natural process of seeking to maximize profits places any regulatory regime under continual assault, so that over time the regime’s ability to prevent crises degrades.

Counterfactuals, revisited from Cafe Hayek by Russ Roberts

My favorite perspective on the political economy of counterfactuals came from a reporter (Tom Foreman of CNN) who gave me his analysis of politicians and the economy. It went something like this:

Politicians taking credit from what they’ve done for the economy are like little kids working the controls of video games without putting any money in. There’s all kinds of stuff happening on the screen of the video game and they think that it’s all due to the frantic work of their fingers.

Selfishness is No Virtue from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

Self interest is not about selfishness.
If everybody tries takes and few give in exchange, commercial society would be impossible. The very act of exchange is about each giving something to the other party which they prefer in place of what they give up to get it. If everybody expects others to give without them getting something back, we would soon be impoverished. Poverty is the absence of exchange relations; it is not caused by them, Greg. 11:21 AM

Thinking through Claude Lévi-Strauss @ Neuroanthropology from Anthropology.net by Tim Jones Here’s a link to a post at Neuroanthropology

The linked essay was constructed by Greg Downey, in which he considers amongst much else, traditional structuralism, its origins and cycle of acknowledgement in academia, and how modern research into the brain and and its complex behind-the-scenes activities would seem to fly in the face of much structuralist thought. As we see from this extract:

This is perhaps one of the first and simplest distinctions between structuralism, together with some forms of cognitive anthropology, and neuroanthropology. The belief that, underlying human expression is a simpler structure of thought, one that can be described as an oppositional framework of categories, is, in my opinion, not consistent with current neurosciences. Structuralist analysis assumes that, underlying surface complexity in myth, ritual, and even conscious thought, there must be a simpler generative matrix (this is also one of my issues with Pierre Bourdieu, and the reason that I think his thought is overly structuralist).

Increasingly, neurosciences are leading us to the opposite conclusion, that conscious thought and overt expression are the thin surface of much more complex processes, a staggeringly Byzantine thinking organ embedded within a baroque organism upon which it depends for sensation, experience, subsistence, and even motivation to exist. Even the theorists of mental modularity, with which I disagree on many things, come into direct conflict with the stupendous simplification of mental processes required by structuralist analysis (for more, see Andy Clark & Michael Wheeler: Embodied cognition and cultural evolution).

The Cambridge Torres Strait expedition and British social anthropology from The Memory Bank by keith

In his posthumous book, Conflict and Dream (1923), Rivers recalls one of his own dreams whose preoccupation was with “Hidden Sources”. His initial explanation is that the dream referred to his frustration in not being able to reply to mistaken American critics of his kinship theories, because of overwork as an army psychiatrist. In a practical sense, but possibly more seriously, a conflict existed between psychology and ethnology. But, pushing the analysis further, Rivers concludes that the dream reveals the fundamental harmony between psychoanalysis and ethnology which are based on the same method, the excavation of hidden sources which help us to understand the complex history of both human personality and culture. Armed with this integrated vision of self and society, Rivers came out of the war ready to change the world, not just to understand it. 8:01 PM

Mediation and memory in the theory of money via The Memory Bank by keith on 9/10/09 Money as mediation

Money is often portrayed as a lifeless object separated from persons, whereas it is a creation of human beings, imbued with the collective spirit of the living and the dead. Money, as a token of society, must be impersonal in order to connect individuals to the universe of relations to which they belong. [...]

The two great means of communication are language and money. Anthropologists have paid much attention to the first, which divides us more than it brings us together, but not to money whose potential for universal communication is more reliable, in addition to its well-advertised ability to symbolize differences between us. [...]

Following Goethe, Spengler made a contrast between history (becoming) and nature (what has become). The counterpart of longing, of the desire to move forward that is becoming, is the dread of having become, of finality or death; and this pair together drive cultural creativity.

‘Life, perpetually fulfilling itself as an element of becoming, is what we call ‘the present’, and it possesses that mysterious property of ‘direction’, which men have tried to rationalize by means of the enigmatic word ‘time’.’ [...]

The Apollonian idea of money as magnitude (which is classical) and the Faustian conception of money as function are opposites. ‘Classical man saw the world surrounding him as a sum of bodies; money is also a body’ (talents, coins). [...]

Spengler concludes with a prophecy that the world of money and machine-industry will be overthrown by ‘blood’ as the dominant life-principle; and at this point we leave him. But his framework contains much of value for an analysis of the conscious and unconscious influence of money on our actions today. [...] 2:21 PM

From Reason to Illuminated Vision from Sri Aurobindo Studies by sriaurobindostudies

When we look into the evolutionary process we see in the world, it is easy to discern that there are laws that govern the process and the manifestation. Investigating these laws we find an inherent knowledge that is expressing itself absolutely and precisely. This knowledge is inherent in all the forms and expressions of nature. In the material world, we see it as the laws of physics. In the cosmic world, we see the laws of mathematics at work. In the world of life, we can view this as inherent instinct, which is another word for a “self-law” expressing itself precisely.

When we come to the human mentality, we see the working of Reason trying to make order out of the assortment of facts and impressions that we collect. There is a systematic working of Reason that can be equated to the natural laws in other aspects of the manifestation, so that Reason is itself an indicator of a higher or deeper Self-Knowledge that is unfolding through the operations of Reason, however slowly or imperfectly it seems to our short-term and limited vision. The object of Reason is the embrace of the cosmic reality that is manifesting the infinite truth of Sat-Chit-Ananda.

In order to grasp the ultimate reality however, we need to go beyond Reason, which is the “law” only as long as we work within the framework of the human mentality, but which has limits that must be overpassed in order to achieve ultimate Knowledge.

“But it is only when we cease to reason and go deep into ourselves, into that secrecy where teh activity of mind is stilled, that this other consciousness becomes really manifest to us–however imperfectly owing to our long habit of mental reaction and mental limitation. Then we can know surely in an increasing illumination that which we had uncertainly conceived by the pale and flickering light of Reason. Knowledge waits seated beyond mind and intellectual reasoning, throned inthe luminous vast of illimitable self-vision.” reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Chapter 13, The Divine Maya www.Aurobindo.net

November 11, 2009

Heraclitus, Sri Aurobindo, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty

SABDA – Distributors of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publications English >> Works of Other Authors >> Philosophy and Metaphysics
Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo — Articles by various authors
Price: Rs 520 Hard Cover Pages: 317 Dimensions (in cms): 14x22 Publisher: D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd., New Delhi in Association with Jadavpur University, Kolkata ISBN: 978-81-246-0402-1 About Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo

This anthology of penetrating essays that explore and explain the avenues of thought laid out by Sri Aurobindo in his major writings offers to the reader a deep and wide look at philosophy, evolution, education, poetry and art, man and his relations, politics and the state, and yoga and psychology. The contributors are committed and serious scholars who feel that Sri Aurobindo’s thought offers the surest basis for understanding the past, present, and future dilemmas facing man. The book begins with an overview of the seminal ideas of each essay and concludes with some suggestions for new research, based on Sri Aurobindo’s work, in view of contemporary advances in science and technology and the current interest in transformative practices throughout all fields of study.

REVIEW
It is not often that a collection of advanced and original writings of such consistent quality on various aspects of Sri Aurobindo's teachings enters the mainstream of published texts and it is thus even more of a pity that the book should bear such a clumsy title as Understanding Thoughts of Sri Aurobindo or wear a jacket of such mediocre design merit. The term "thoughts" with respect to Sri Aurobindo's oeuvre is obviously a problematic one, given his explicit, repeated statements regarding the cessation of "thinking" in him, while at the same time affirming an impersonal "thought" function to a higher mental and even supramental consciousness. Moreover, a different characteristic of "thought" as an ascending occult mentality in the liberated human nature is also affirmed by him as in his poem "Thought the Paraclete." So, conceivably, the ideas, whether belonging to the human intellect or not, present in Sri Aurobindo's writings, could be called "thoughts"-"Those thoughts that wander through eternity" to draw on one of his own favored lines from Milton. There is also what could be called the discursive "author-function" that the postmodern philosopher Michel Foucault envisions as the legitimate impersonal designation of the author, a convenient spatial and historical marker in the ceaseless and unending flow of thought-text that maps out idea-space in human becoming. Here, the "thoughts of Sri Aurobindo" would not be considered entities originated and thus possessed as personal property by the author Sri Aurobindo, but rather a special configuration or constellation of ideas released into the dynamic flow of jostling mental-vital forces materially distributed as text, constantly reconfigured by time, and influencing or shaping human reality. From all these special and rather esoteric considerations, one may try to justify the title, but even at best it remains ungracious in its impression. Even "Understanding the Thought of Sri Aurobindo" may have been better in spite of the problematic nature of the term "thought"-more in keeping with the miraculous global unity and integrality of the ideas expressed in his writings.
But once past these surface infelicities, there is much of value and originality inside, and the serious reader interested in approaching the world-wide teaching of Sri Aurobindo will find much new ground laying out the limbs and proportions of his teachings and relating his ideas to various contemporary thought-currents.

We are told in the introduction that most of the essays featured in this text were contributed at two annual seminars held by the Jadavpur University Centre for Sri Aurobindo Studies in 2004-05. The main areas covered by the papers are philosophy, evolution, education, poetry and art, man and human relations, state and politics, yoga and psychology, and a concluding section "Sri Aurobindo - A Century in Perspective." The essays, however, do not fit comfortably into these categories and several are poorly matched to these headings. Vladimir's paper on "The Myth of Savitri and Satyavan" and Sarnath Basu's reflections on Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita, for example, can hardly be classed under "On Poetry and Art," and Kittu Reddy's "Relevance of Sri Aurobindo in Modern India" is a fish out of water in the category "On Yoga and Psychology." Given the range of Sri Aurobindo's "thought," a category "On Indian Tradition" would have been helpful. But aside from these taxonomic concerns, the selections themselves, as mentioned before, are of a scarcely rivaled excellence in terms of their hermeneutic insight and their contemporary reach.
Of the essays in the section on evolution, Kireet Joshi's comparative review of the theories of evolution stands out by its comprehensiveness and clarity. The idea of evolution was introduced into the modern mainstream by Charles Darwin, and Kireet Joshi makes this the starting point of his consideration. He points to the two main characteristics of Darwinian evolutionary biology as: (1) gradualism; and (2) natural instead of supernatural selection-that is, mutations are statistically random and express equal probability, but the survival of consciousness in living things selects for the persistence of certain mutations as the building blocks of more complex and better adapted living organisms. To Joshi's choice of characteristics, one may add that Darwinism reduces evolution to a scale of physical forms and has no place in its logic for any change of consciousness. Joshi goes on to point to a number of problems with Darwinian evolutionism, some of which have been acknowledged by and responded to by biologists and some of which surpass the scope of biology as a physical science and can only be addressed by philosophers or experimental psychologists/yogis. He points, for example, to the lack of evidence for gradualism and the solutions offered by modern "saltationists," such as the theory of punctuated equilibrium put forth by Stephen Jay Gould. He also points to the problems of explaining complex mutations as against accidents and variations in the emergence of significant functional properties and their similarities and repetitions across different genealogies. He then goes on to consider philosophical solutions to the question of evolution, which mostly add a teleological element to the reductive assumptions of chance held by biology, as also a consideration of an evolution of consciousness.

The philosophers he takes up in turn include Henri Bergson, Herbert Spencer, Samuel Alexander, Lloyd Morgan, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Whitehead, before arriving at Sri Aurobindo and explicating his evolutionary philosophy based on a prior involution of consciousness. An essay of this kind of incisive comprehensiveness leaves one with a sense of the total field of evolution and how completely Sri Aurobindo answers all its issues and problems. Comparative perspectives like this are sorely needed today in Sri Aurobindo studies. Arabinda Basu's succinct and concentrated essay "Sri Aurobindo's Doctrine of Evolution" and Dilip Kumar Roy's elaboration "Sri Aurobindo's Integral Approach to the Concept of Evolution" are both fit companions to Kireet Joshi's essay in this philosophic vein.
Another essay in the section on Evolution which stands out as a work of cross-cultural hermeneutics is Krishna Roy's article "Sri Aurobindo on Heraclitus." Though Roy's contention that Sri Aurobindo was influenced by Heraclitus in the fashioning of his own theory of evolution is debatable - Sri Aurobindo may have later sought comparative historical precedents - the attention bestowed on this pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and his mystic affinity to Upanishadic and Aurobindonian ideas is very helpful. Heraclitus' pronouncements on the co-existence of Unity and Multiplicity, of Being and Becoming in terms of the dynamic fiery principle and of the relation between evolution and involution do set a radiant pointer in the direction of Sri Aurobindo's darshana, though the transcendental and transformative power of Being beyond the boundaries of present Becoming and the possibility of union in consciousness of the human with this transformative power are not envisaged by Heraclitus. In considering Heraclitus, Sri Aurobindo also draws attention to Nietzsche as a modern philosopher with similarities in his thinking, but with the lacuna of positing a Becoming without Being. Sri Aurobindo considers Nietzsche to be an initiator of modern philosophical thought and lauds him for the fertility and dynamic practicality of his thinking. Indeed, a whole train of modern and contemporary western philosophers have traced their heritage to Nietzsche, and perhaps the most creative of these, Martin Heidegger, has also drawn attention to the pre-Socratic mode of intuitive and practical philosophy practiced by thinkers like Heraclitus and the revival of this trend in Nietzsche.

A sibling to Roy's cross-cultural consideration bridging Sri Aurobindo to a genealogy of ancient and postmodern western philosophy is Sushmita Bhattacharya's "Towards a Theory of True Human Relation: Jean-Paul Sartre vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo." Sartre, an existentialist, also follows in the shadow of Nietzsche. As is clear in his magnum opus Being and Nothingness (from which Bhattacharya quotes) the Nietzschean Becoming without Being also informs the ontology of Sartre. However, Bhattacharya peers into the cracks of Sartre's complexity when she tries to draw out from his later lectures and interviews a substantiality to human relationship-what she refers to as a "secret solidarity" of brotherhood founded in the primordiality of the earth-mother. Bhattacharya's discussion of Sartre's "humanism" is also noteworthy in that postmodernism has found this term problematic due to its bounded connotations. Heidegger explicitly declared himself an anti-humanist and several postmodern philosophers (e.g. Michel Foucault) have followed in his wake. But with Sartre, we find a revisionary impulse reclaiming humanism into the urge for self-exceeding which for him characterizes human existence. Of course, one could split hairs with Sartre on the scope and extent of human subjectivity or the anticipation of rupture from beyond, Derrida's l'avenir, but in any case, with Bhattacharya's characterization, we find the hazy boundaries of the post-human beginning to loom from the writings of Sartre.

In this it may be pointed out that Sri Aurobindo also undertakes his own revision of the "humanist" idea in the last chapter of The Ideal of Human Unity, which he titles "The Religion of Humanity." Here, one may say that he points to the essence of humanism as a dynamic progression aiming at the realization of human unity in consciousness through what he has elsewhere called "the psychic being." According to the Vedas, it is not only the dark mother of material unconsciousness but the twin Mothers of Night and Day, of pravritti and nivritti, becoming and latency, who suckle the human child, and Sri Aurobindo's vision of human "solidarity" bases itself on this. Bhattacharya brings out the need for the realization of these deeper sources of unity - psychic, cosmic, and transcendental - which found the substantial reality of human relationship in Sri Aurobindo, a much more securely developed foundation of theory and practice than the sincere gropings of Sartre. I may mention though, in passing, that Bhattacharya may have found more fruitful ground for comparison and a more richly developed theory of intersubjectivity in Sartre's contemporary, Maurice Merleau-Ponty.
Apart from these comparative considerations, there is much developed understanding and practical insight regarding Sri Aurobindo's own writings in this book that can serve the function of introduction and/or application. Kireet Joshi's and U.C. Dubey's essays on the integral philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, Supriyo Bhattacharya's essay on Sri Aurobindo's understanding of Indian art, Dasharathi Sengupta on statehood in Sri Aurobindo's political thinking, and V.N. Seshagiri Rao's short commentary on Sri Aurobindo's conception of Integral Yoga are some outstanding examples of introductions to the varied facets of the omni-directional integrality of Sri Aurobindo's "thought."

Essays such as Pabitrakumar Roy's learned reflections on Sri Aurobindo's poetics of the mantra, Vladimir's interpolations of the Vedic dimensions of the traditional tale of Savitri, and Sarnath Basu's assessment of Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita - all in the light of Indian spiritual tradition - are more interpretative in nature and represent original insights into the works they address. Of these, Basu's article is particularly noteworthy for its lucidity and subtlety in casting light on some of Sri Aurobindo's major gleanings from the Gita-for example, its synthesis of sankhya and yoga, its emphasis on the supreme and integral Purusha, Purushottama, as the source, goal, and leading of its yoga; or its affirmation of jivanmukti through its revision of otherwise world-negating terminology such as sannyasa (here, karma-sannyasa) or nirvana (here, brahma-nirvana).
Three essays on Sri Aurobindo's educational philosophy bring out in summary form the lines along which he envisaged the future development of human consciousness through education and its practical implications in terms of contemporary implementation. Additionally, Soumitra Basu, Kittu Reddy, Kh. Gokulchandra, Sushmita Bhowmik, and Goutam Ghosal all contribute thought-provoking essays of excellence on various aspects of Sri Aurobindo's works. The book concludes with an article "Sri Aurobindo - A Century in Perspective" by Aster Patel. Sri Aurobindo became the first principal of National College, Calcutta, now known as the Jadavpur College, about a hundred years ago. In the century which has elapsed since then, humankind has experienced its most intense period of collective growth and crisis throughout the world. Human consciousness is poised on a brink where it is faced either with the specter of oblivion, the horror of the abyss, or a leap into another modality of being, the integral consciousness of the "overman." Mediating this critical choice is the life and work of Sri Aurobindo, throwing a powerful beacon into the next century. Aster Patel draws out some of the implications of this work ahead of us in following the light of Sri Aurobindo in the coming century.

  • Can we equal in consciousness the integral vision of reality which contemporary Science is indicating to our minds and our technological practice?
  • Are we even ready to engage with the fullness of the term "integral?"
  • How can we draw together our past and our present, our fractured personalities, our fragmented disciplines, our physical matter and our mental, vital, and spiritual substance into the Oneness of integral being which Sri Aurobindo lived and wrote about?

His integral consciousness is still fully alive in his words, and each word is an invitation to experience the Being and Becoming in our own lives. This is the ever-living fire of Heraclitus, the living legacy of the "thoughts" of Sri Aurobindo.
Debashish Banerji
Debashish Banerji has a doctorate in Art History, and teaches courses in South Asian, East Asian, and Islamic Art History in Los Angeles, USA. He also teaches online courses in Indian Philosophy and is Director of the International Centre for Integral Studies at New Delhi. December 2007 ashram visitors darshan selected works research music publications image gallery © 1999 - 2004 Copyright Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

November 10, 2009

Somehow we seem to have passed from a secular age

The return to religion has become perhaps the dominant cliché of contemporary theory. Of course, theory often offers nothing more than an exaggerated echo of what is happening in reality, a political reality dominated by the fact of religious war. Somehow we seem to have passed from a secular age, which we were ceaselessly told was post-metaphysical, to a new situation where political action seems to flow directly from metaphysical conflict. This situation can be triangulated around the often-fatal entanglement of politics and religion, where the third vertex of the triangle is violence. Politics, religion and violence appear to define the present through which we are all too precipitously moving, where religiously justified violence is the means to a political end.

  • How are we to respond to such a situation?
  • Must one either defend a version of secularism or quietly accept the slide into some form of theism?

The First Tilburg Philosophy Summer School invites responses to this dilemma, which is arguably the defining political issue of our time. This is especially the case in The Netherlands, known for its particular tradition of tolerance, which currently finds itself in a situation of political and societal conflict defined along the axes of politics, religion and violence.

November 09, 2009

“Oh man, this is it” like at 25

Gratton responds on Derrida from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek

One general point is that books encountered in youth can burn down into your soul in ways that aren’t possible later. When I was 25, it was possible to get really drunk on a new book, to feel sensations of euphoria and to feel that the world was turned-upside down. A decade and a half later, it’s not the same thing: I can really admire and appreciate and be stunned by new books, but it’s no longer ever like falling crazily in love. I have my own position now, so I’m immediately sizing up strong and weak points of any book I read in what I hope is a fairly balanced fashion, not thinking: “oh man, this is it” like at 25. So in a sense, it’s too late for me to be a convert to anything.

Ortega y Gasset says something like this: “To really penetrate Kant’s system one needs the good will of those early years when good will is all one has.”

It can be frustrating to be young and not yet in a position to make much of a contribution to the debate. But at least you can often read what you want whenever you want (no longer possible for me), and you can bring a lot of sincerity and enthusiasm to new authors in a way not yet tempered by the caution of approaching middle age. There’s something sparkling about that period.

It reminds me of another nice thought from a novel by Yukio Mishima, Runaway Horses. He’s talking about a character in his late 30’s, and makes the point that this character, like others of that age, still (wrongly) feels close in time to his late 20’s, because “the events of the past ten years had made almost no strong impression on him.” I’m getting the phrasing wrong; Mishima did it better. But the point is generally true– you start cooling down a bit about everything, including authors.

re.press - Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics
25 Jun 2009 ... 'Graham Harman does for Bruno Latour what Deleuze did for Foucault.

November 06, 2009

Humanities have increasingly suffered a crisis of identity

Realism, Epistemology, Science, and Scientism from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

First, I get the sense that many in the humanities are deeply threatened by the sciences. Here I don’t blame my colleagues. There is, of course, the sort of discomfort many of us “literary types” suffered in our math and science classes that I think sometimes informs our attitudes towards the sciences. However, more importantly and as a matter of academic institutional politics, many of us in the humanities have suffered having scientific criteria hoisted on our own forms of intellectual engagement where they do not belong and have had to fight funding wars against administrations that increasingly take monies away from the humanities and funnel all sorts of funding into the various sciences and technical degrees.

Additionally, I think the humanities have increasingly suffered a crisis of identity wondering where, precisely, their place lies in the academy. Philosophy, for example, was once foundational to all the other disciplines. Yet with the rise of modern science philosophy increasingly finds itself marginalized as a sort of “idle speculation”.

  • What sort of knowledge, precisely, is it that philosophy contributes to the world or the academy?

I believe many of us in the humanities are asking these sorts of questions and I get the sense that many of us often have a sort of knee-jerk reaction to the sciences, wishing to equate them with dogmatic discourse and reject them altogether.

  • How else are we to account for the fact that within Continental philosophy and theory claims from the hard sciences are generally treated as inadmissible within the framework of philosophical discussion?

Perhaps many of us are still smarting from the Sokal affair and this is why, with only a few exceptions, we tend to shy away from the sciences. But what the Sokal affair revealed was not the absurdity of people in the humanities evoking the sciences (were that the case Dennett and others would be in trouble), but the absurdity of social constructivism and rhetorical idealism gone woefully wrong. No, I get the sense that the inadmissability of the sciences in Continental discussions is more a defense formation than a rational position. To be sure, it dresses itself up in rational garb, but when you look at the actual arguments they turn out to not be very good (I’ll get to this in a moment).

Second, and more importantly, while all the speculative realists and the object-oriented ontologists have a healthy respect for the sciences and think that they reveal something real and genuine about the world, it has never been the position of us object-oriented ontologists that the objects investigated by the sciences exhaust the real. This is one reason I find myself so perplexed by Dan’s observations. For the object-oriented ontologists things like suns, quarks, DNA and so on are real. But signs, cities, groups, books, and so on are also real. The physical objects investigated by the sciences are for OOO a subset of the real, not exhaustive of the real. Dan seems to suppose that OOO treats that subset as being exhaustive of the real. [...]

For the object-oriented ontologist, over and above questions of how we know objects there remains an important and crucial question of what it means for a being to be. This question, following Roy Bhaskar, is not, for the realist ontologist, exhausted by how we know. Likewise, while the object-oriented ontologist readily acknowledges the limitations of our knowledge, the fact that we must engage in inquiry to know any particular type of object, and so on, the realist ontologist rejects the thesis that the differences discovered in and through inquiry belong to the domain of outputs alone. Rather, the realist ontologist begins from the premise that these differences cannot be restricted to outputs alone, but rather that there must be something about the inputs, about the world that produces these differences, that is mind-independent.

Mereological Considerations in Object-Oriented Ontology from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

The sadly departed Levi-Strauss will claim that our black boxes contain structures of mind, Lacan will claim they contain the symbolic, Derrida the trace and differance, Foucault structures of power and discourse, Kant a priori categories and forms of intuition, and so on. The key point not to be missed is that our own black boxes are every bit as “withdrawn” as objects themselves. Second, by way of analogy we can make the point that speculation about what our black boxes contain are, as speculations, deeply prone to error.

Take the example of computer black boxes. If I examine the output of a computer alone I might be led to make all sorts of erroneous influences. For example, when I notice that a blog contains italic and bold faced fonts I might be led to think there is a category in the programming that produces this output. However, the actual computer code that produces italics shares very little resemblance to a category or the font. The point here is that we can’t hit on accurate inferences about what black boxes contain, but that these black boxes are themselves objects of speculation and indirect inference that are not immanently or immediately accessible.

So what is my argument here? My argument is that all things being equal, if we are speculating about our black boxes, if our claims about our black boxes are not “critical” claims but speculative claims, then there is no reason not to open the door to a generalized speculation that allows us to freely hypothesize about objects independent of humans and how their black boxes function. Notice the strategy of argument here. My move is not to argue, contra the last 200+ years of sophisticated anti-realist epistemology that somehow we have a mysterious immediate access to objects, but rather to show how the anti-realist position contains a speculative core at the heart of its thought. As a result of this super-ninja, surprise judo move that uses the force of my critics own arguments against his onslaught, I thus arrive not at a transcendental idealism but at a transcendental realism. In other words, the question becomes “under what conditions can such-and-such a type of difference be produced?” This conditions are not mind dependent, but instead are attributed to the objects themselves.

Clearly the question arises of what knowledge is within the framework of an object-oriented ontology. Insofar as object-oriented ontology holds that all objects “withdraw” from one another (Harman) or that all objects “interpret” one another (Levi, Latour), or that all objects are black boxes with respect to one another, it follows that knowledge cannot be a representation of objects. Why? Because you cannot represent an object whose inputs disappear behind their outputs. My hypothesis at this point is that knowledge consists in know-how with respect to producing differences. To know is not to represent an object but rather to have know-how as to evoking differences within various objects under particular conditions. To know an object is to know the differences it is capable of producing under specific conditions.