January 29, 2010

Dissent can be yoga

POSTHUMAN DESTINIES Science, Culture, Integral Yoga
These post on Simondon are extremely difficult to decipher however if one takes the time it may be a worthwhile enterprise, not only because of his influence on Deleuze, Steigler and Derrida, but because his work reveals (for lack of better terms) an integral thinker, with maybe enough Aurobindian resonance, regards theorizing a physical, vital, mental, psychic individuation, radical empiricism, whole/part relationship – which one may be able to contextualized in terms of nature yoga/purusha yoga – as to facilitate a very esoteric dialog. 
Howard Zinn 1922-2010 Posted by RCARLSON | Published: JANUARY 28, 2010
“The title of his memoir, he noted, best described his personal philosophy: “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.” …..
I think Howard’s legacy teaches us that dissent can be yoga. Injustice calls forth the integration of knowledge/power in a call to action. Social Justice and Sanatan Dharma are integral in Sri Aurobindo’s action. Zinn’s secular integration of justice and dharma, is a further evolution (cultural) of such action, that I believe Sri Aurobindo would have embraced. Its therefore ironic that the Heehs affair has given Howard’s “moving train” new relevance.
In Alternative Modernity, Andrew Feenberg continues his efforts to produce a critical theory of technology which develops philosophical perspectives to help us understand the immense importance and impact of technology within the contemporary world.
Every technical object undergoes a genesis. It is difficult, however, to define the genesis of each technical object, because the individuality of technical objects is modified in the course of the genesis. What we can do is to define technical objects with reference to the technical species to which they belong, but we can only do so with difficulty. 
Gilbert Simondon, a French philosopher, sees the individual as a process – through individuation rather than as fixed entity. Neither are matter or form fixed, as they too go through a process of development. The person then creates a sort of symbiotic developmental relation with its surrounding, both influencing each other in ‘becoming’. Years ahead of his time, and understandings in science, Simondon published his thoughts in L’individu et sa genese physico-biologique (The Individual and its Physico-Biological Individuation, 1964)
“This essay explores the relation between animality and biotechnology, focusing both on contemporary issues, such as “biodefence”, as well as historical issues, such as the Mediaeval bestiary. Animality—as the human capacity to “think the animal”—is found to exist within the networks and passages that both constitute and threaten social, economic and political life…..”
After the court cases were found to be without merit, and just when one thought a measure of sanity had prevailed in the controversy regards the publication of the Lives of Sri Aurobindo and its author Peter Heehs a new front for battle has opened up. In this instance Mr. Heehs visa and right to stay in India are under attack. And just like the attack on the book the instruments of warfare is the lie. The persistence of the attacks on Mr. Heehs in fact confirm Ashis Nandy’s view of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram that: “Increasingly and inevitably, it acquired the trappings of a well organized modern cult and of a church‑as‑corporation.”
What follows is the deconstruction of a recent report by R.Y. Deshpande regards Mr Heehs appearance in court to defend his Visa:
Continuing our look at the Theory of Evolution just slightly after its 150 year anniversary:
The New York Times announced that ‘the theory of evolution really does explain everything in biology,’ but that’s rather modest in the context of current celebratory hype. In now canonical versions, Darwin’s idea of evolution through natural selection – his ‘dangerous idea’ – was, as Daniel Dennett famously said, ‘the single best idea anyone has ever had’. 
The portrait Asish Nandy paints of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and the Ashram in Intimate Enemy is in many respects fascinatingly complex. The final conclusion that he draws on to evaluate the success of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual politics is in fact stunningly original:
“In his own odd way, Aurobindo did try to recognize this on behalf of his culture. To trivialize both the English language and the categories popularized by nineteenth‑century Western social criticism, one could perhaps say that in the chaos called India the opposite of thesis is not the antithesis because they exclude each other. The true ‘enemy’ of the thesis is seen to be in the synthesis because it includes the thesis and ends the latter’s reason for being. It is Sankara’s Vedanta, carrying the clear impress of Buddhism, which finished Buddhism as a living faith in India, and not either Brahmanic orthodoxy or any state‑sponsored anti‑Buddhist ideology.64 Successfully or unsuccessfully, Aurobindo did try to evolve such a response to the West.” (Nandy)

January 28, 2010

Poems with a purpose

Sri Aurobindo KR Iyengar - 2008
CHAPTER SEVEN THE PLUNGE INTO POLITICS I We have seen that Sri Aurobindo's Urvasie, Love and Death and Perseus the Deliverer are not only poems, and very good as poems, but that they are also poems with a purpose How shall man conduct himself on ... 

Indian Writing in English: Critical Appraisals By Amar Nath Prasad, 2008
Structure and Style in Sri Aurobindo —
Dr. AK Sinha
Ancient legends and myths form the sources of the plots of Sri Aurobindo's plays. But once he chooses a legend or a myth as his source-material, his technique is to have a complete possession of it and to rearrange it in ... 
Sri Aurobindo's Vasavadutta: The Drama of Realism and Romance
Indian Writing in English: Critical Appraisals, 2008
Sri Aurobindo's Vasavadutta: The Drama of Realism and Romance —Dr. Amar Nath Prasad Sri Aurobindo's Vasavadutta is deeply dyed with the colour of both realism and romance, innocence and experience. Vuthsa, the hero of the play is famous for his prowess and heroism. But ... 

Indian Poetry in English: The Problematic of Identity and Representation
NM Sadarangani - Indian Writing in English: Critical Appraisals, 2008
tradition of
India. This strangely did not happen. Except for a rare Tagore or an Aurobindo, there was no great poetry in English during this heroic period of phenomenal mass upsurge and political ferment. Large scale reform ... 
Humanism in RN Tagore
Indian English Poetry & Fiction: Critical Elucidations (part-Ii) By A.N. Prasad Rajiv K. Malik, Amar Nath Prasad

Humanism in RN Tagore, Md. Iqbal and Sri Aurobindo — TK Basu The nineteenth century in India was an era of Renaissance and rediscovery. One of the most dominant trends of this period is humanism. Humanism (from the Latin humanitas) shows ontological individualism and ... 
Re-interpretation of Myth in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
Indian English Poetry and Fiction: Critical Elucidations, 2008
Re-interpretation of Myth in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri —Dr. Ratri Roy Much has been written about Sri Aurobindo's poetry, but one particular aspect of it has not been fully explored. Perhaps the philosophical and stylistic part of his poetry has caught the attention of the readers and ... 

Contemporary Indian English Poetry: Comparing Male and Female Voices
KD Singh - 2008
The period 1900-1950 brought to light some of the stalwarts of English poetic tradition in India, which include Aurobindo Ghosh and Rabindranath Tagore, who influenced Page 15. Introduction 3 many lesser-known poets 2, and among women poets, Sarojini Naidu. 

Robert A. McDermott. Sri Aurobindo. The Mind of Light. Introduction and Annotated …
Religious Studies, 2008 -
Cambridge Univ Press
Ursula King (1972). Robert A. McDermott. Sri Aurobindo. The Mind of Light. Introduction and Annotated Bibliography. Pp. 128.

Spiritual Improvisations: Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, and the Freedom of Tradition
M Cohen - Religion and the Arts, 12, 2008 -
Abstract Stage 1: My path leads to the true goal, yours does not, therefore I'll kill you if you do not adopt my religion. Stage 2: Your path unwittingly serves mine by leading part way to the goal, so I will refrain from killing you. Stage 3: All paths lead to the same goal, therefore I ... 

The religious ontology of Sri Aurobindo
JS Kruger, AG Barnard - 2009
This dissertation is an analysis and interpretation of Sri Aurobindo's philosophical ... mystic. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was an Indian brought up as an Englishman but he ... 

The religious philosophy of consciousness of Sri Aurobindo
JS Krüger, AG Barnard - 2009
I declare that "The Religious Philosophy of Consciousness of Sri Aurobindo" is my own work and that all the sources that I have used or quoted have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references. ... In this thesis I examine the religious philosophy of ...

Humanity at the Crossroads: Does Sri Aurobindo offer an alternative?
SA Singh, AR Singh - Mens Sana Monographs, 2009
In the light of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, this paper looks into some of the problems of contemporary man as an individual, a member of society, a citizen of his country, a component of this world, and of nature itself. Concepts like Science; Nature,;Matter; Mental Being; 

Tulku Tarthang (editor). Reflections of Mind: Western Psychology meets Tibetan
K Loewenthal - Religious Studies, 2008 - Cambridge Univ Press
This objection does not apply to Dr Feys' meticulous
philosophical study of the theme of evolution in Teilhard and Aurobindo, the most comprehensive study on the subject in existence to date. It is the ...

Beatrice Bruteau. Evolution toward Divinity. Teilhard de Chardin and the Hindu
U King - Religious Studies, 2008 - Cambridge Univ Press
.1974.) Jan Feys. The Philosophy of Evolution in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin. Pp. xiv + 276. (KL Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta 1973.) KD Sethna. Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo. A Focus on Fundamentals. Pp. ix + 139. ...

A critique and response to multicultural visions of globalization
B Sriraman, H Adrian - Interchange, 2008 - Springer
HARRY ADRIAN Ottawa, Illinois ABSTRACT: The paper by White in this issue of Interchange contains an interesting model for a global educational perspective based on the writings of Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. ... 

and Emergence Mechanisms: Spiritual Evolution in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de …
F Mikes - Science, Spirituality and the Modernisation of India, 2009 Chapter 6 Chaos, Complexity and Emergence Mechanisms: Spiritual Evolution in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Char din Frantisek Mikes It's a great opportunity to reflect on some of the best scholars' and scientists' discussion on these themes. It is also an opportunity to reflect on ... 

 spiritual conceptions of life-Sri Aurobindo, Teilhard de Chardin and Ken …
M Leicht - 2008
GRIN - Verlag fur akademische Texte Der GRIN Verlag mit Sitz in Munchen und Ravensburghat sich seit der Griindung im Jahr 1998 auf die Veroffentlichung akademischerTexte spezialisiert. Die Verlagswebseite ist fur Studenten, Hochschulleh- rer und 

Esoteric Ideas on the Transformation of Man and Society in Comparison with …
VM Rozin - Russian Social Science Review, 2008 - ME Sharpe
Another genius of esotericism, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, whose views are typical of the esoteric attitude to the theme under discussion and will be considered in greater detail, says literally the same thing. “Self-deluding mankind ... 

Solidarity and Incarnation in Sri Aurobindo and Dietrich Bonhoeffer
PA Sartison - 2008
This thesis considers the relation of similarity and difference in the comparative study of religion, by examining the doctrines of avatara and incarnation. These doctrines are first considered using a comparative approach, summarizing some of the research that has been done in ... 

Beyond West and East: Co-evolution and the calling of a new enlightenment and
AK Giri - Futures, 2008 - Elsevier
The evolutionary challenge of development of mind in the direction of intuition that Bergson presents us finds a resonance in the works of Sri Aurobindo from India. ... 4. Creative evolution and spiritual evolution: Bergson and Sri Aurobindo. ... 

Insight from another side: what art education can learn from Aurobindo
D Gall - International Journal of Education through Art, 2008 - Intellect
Abstract Visual culture theory tends to undermine aesthetic hierarchies by arguing that they do not derive from any intrinsic qualities in artworks and are merely there to sustain social class distinctions. In so doing they create a tension with traditional concepts of art education. At ... 

Pre of Art in Modern India
A Raghuramaraju - Third Text, 2009
TEXTILE IN VIVEKANANDAAUROBINDO AND GANDHI ... There is something very intriguing about contemporary Indian thinkers like Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902), Sri Aurobindo (1872–1950), Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) and others. ...

The Quest for Light in Indian Architectural Heritage
JMC Lainez - Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering, 2008 - J-STAGE
5. Modern Architectural Examples 1. Aurobindo's Ashram in Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu)
The author would like to draw on the case of an outstanding Indian building that used louvres
as its main design feature: the Sri Aurobindo Ashram (3) (5) (4) ... 

Open Bodies
A Böhler - Paragrana, 2009
 flesh of his body. (B
hadārayaka Upaniad 1.1. in AUROBINDO 1981, p. 327) Like in many early haha yogic, tantric and alchemistic traditions (cf. ELIADE 1969, p ... world-wide existence (cf. AUROBINDO 1971, p. 275). As is well ... 
Robert N. Minor, Bhagavad-Gītā. An Exegetical Commentary. Pp. 504.(Heritage
K Werner - Religious Studies, 2008 -
Cambridge Univ Press
And he has not succeeded in it. The introduction gives a selective survey of Indian commentaries from Sankara to Aurobindo and of Western translations, explains the context in which it is found in the Mahabharata and discusses its authorship and dating. ...

Consciousness, Mind, and Intellegence: Some Research and Notes
A Francini - The Rose, 2008
The Tradition of Vedanta (The Upanishads as interpreted by Sri Aurobindo and presented by Judith Tyberg, Ph.D.1) ... Sri Aurobindo interprets the Upanishads, saying that Brahman is the Absolute Divine, the ONE. Atman is the Highest Self, one with Brahman. ... 

 Influence of Aroma on Human Aura Qualitative Vibration of Pranas
As Sri Aurobindo (1972a) notes being aware of Pranas is to “enjoy thought, will, action, dynamic impulse, result of action, emotion, sense, sensation, to enjoy too by their means objects, persons, life, the world, is the activity for which this Prana gives us a psycho-physiological ... 

The use of Sanskrit, an ancient language, as a tool to evaluate cleft palate speech
K Gajiwala - Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery, 2009 - Medknow
“The structure we find (in Sanskrit) is one of extraordinary initial simplicity and also of extraordinary scientific regularity of formation,” writes Sri Aurobindo.[1] The arrangement of or the garland of phonemes.
÷r«vSanskrit alphabets is called Varnmaalaa ( ... 
Effects of Integral Meditation on Peace in Young Adult Non-regular …
R Khubalkar, RT Maharaj - Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied …, 2009
The present investigation has used Integral Meditation on Peace – a different kind of meditative practice based on certain principles of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga and therefore has been so called. This yoga ... 

Contemporary perspectives on spirituality and mental health
P Sharma, R Charak, V Sharma - Indian Journal of Psychological …, 2009

reconcile men to the cruelty of fate, particularly as it is shown in death, and they must compensate them for sufferings and privations which a civilized life in common had imposed on them." In a similar vein, leading spiritualist of the twentieth century, Sri Aurobindo [10] warned ... 
Using developmental theory: When not to play telephone games
SN Ross - Integral Review, 2008 -
These are outlined below. Issues Issue 1. Wilber classifies into one group the author names “Commons/Richards Piaget/Aurobindo” (Wilber, 2006, Figure 2.4, p. “68a”). A more communicative way to indicate these separate ... 

Science, Spirituality and Modernity in India
M Paranjape - Science, Spirituality and the Modernisation of …, 2009

enthusiasm, even endorsement of science. Prom time to time, other spiritual masters such as Sri Aurobindo and Paramhansa Yogananda also continued this interest in and partial approval of modern science. At the same time ... 
Sri Aurobindo and Krishnachandra Bhattacharya on Science and Spirituality1
 Science, Spirituality and the Modernisation of India, 2009
Chapter 5 Sri Aurobindo and Krishnachandra Bhattacharya on Science and Spirituality Raghuram Raju The antagonistic relationship between modern science, understood as materialism, and religion, or spiritualism, existing in the West during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ... 

Science, Spirituality and the Modernisation of India
DLXIV FRW - 2009
Some Change Agents CHAPTER 3 Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan and the Modernization 47 of South Asian Muslims Javaid Iqbal Bhat CHAPTER 4 Acharyajagadish Chandra Bose: Looking beyond 65 the Idiom Susmita Chatterjee CHAPTER 5 Sri Aurobindo and Krishnachandra ...

The National Movement in Bengal Bengal: the Nationalist Movement 1876–1940.
RK Ray - Modern Asian Studies, 2008 - Cambridge Univ Press
The work consists of six short biographies of RC Dutt, Amir Ali, 
Aurobindo Ghosh, MN Roy, CR Das and Subhas Bose, strung together by reflections on leadership
among three generations of Bengali nationalists.

Vulgar India from Nabobs to Nationalism: Imperial Reversals and the Mediation of …
JF Codell - Victorian Vulgarity: Taste in Verbal and Visual …, 2009
In early twentieth-century Swadeshi debates about Indian control of its home industries, Victorian associations of vulgar became folded into Indian nationalism by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877- 1947), and Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950), all ...

Project MUSE Journals Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History Volume 10,
V Results, P Roy, P Roy - Journal of Colonialism and Colonial …, 2009
and colonial engagement. Indeed, some of the same cast of characters -- CF Andrews, MK Gandhi, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, Sri Aurobindo, Mirra Alfassa Richard—feature prominently in both works. Gandhi's text showcases ...

Educational thinkers
S Taneja, V Tanjea - 2008
The book studies leading Educational Thinkers of the West as well as that of India viz., Plato, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich August Froebel, Dr. Maria Montessori, John Dewey, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Aurobindo Ghosh, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, Dr. Zakir ... 

Multicultural Visions of Globalization: Constructing Educational Perspectives From …
SR White - Interchange, 2008 - Springer
The assertion is that the theories of global, social, and conscious evolution of 20 th century intellectuals and visionaries such as India's Sri Ghose Aurobindo (1872-1950) and France's Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) provide the foundation from which to construct a new ... 

Globalization and the Context of Future Education
SR White - Interchange, 2008 - Springer
for the future stake holdersof the world. Healso manages to synthesize eastern and western perspectives for readers unaware of the writing of Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin. We applaud his intention although the solution ... 

Integral Transformational Coaching
WAJ Keizer, SS Nandram - … and Business: Exploring Possibilities for a …, 2009 - Springer
Mindfulness has traditionally been taught in a formal meditation setting in the form of classes and retreats. Several philosophers such as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother state the importance of attention. ... This thinking hails from the work of Sri Aurobindo (1970). ...

Value Education: An Indian Perspective on the Need for Moral Education in …
C Lakshimi - Journal of College and Character, 2009
In the early 1900s, Sri Aurobindo (1972) emphasized this fact when he said, It is a fundamental and deplorable error by which we in this country have confused education with the acquisition of knowledge. . . . ... References Aurobindo, S. (1972). Bande mataram. ... 

Spiritual ideals and social psychology of Auroville: A transdisciplinary interpretive …
B Mohanty - 2008
Located in rural south India, Auroville is a growing international town based on the spiritual vision of the philosopher-sage Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). Founded in 1968 by Sri Aurobindo's spiritual collaborator, the Mother 

The Sociological Contexts of Thich Nhat Hanh's Teachings
D Noy - Human Architecture, 2008
To name only a few, these engaged spiritualities have included: the Catholic Liberation Theology teachings of Bishops Romero and Ruiz, the engaged Hinduism of Mohandas Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo, the renewal Ju- daism of Michael Lerner, and the engaged Buddhism of ... 

Applying an integral perspective to business strategy: A case study
ME Borden - Spirituality and business: Exploring possibilities for a …, 2009 - Springer
What is Integral Philosophy? Integral Philosophy stems from the teachings of the sage and visionary, Sri Aurobindo and his female counterpart, The Mother. ... Sri Aurobindo uses the term Inner Being to describe this innermost divine aspect or Essence. ... 

Spirituality and Business
SS Nandram - Spirituality and Business: Exploring Possibilities for a …, 2009 - Springer
I will draw on Willis Harman's views on consciousness and Sri Aurobindo's perspectives on three kinds of knowl- edge from the outer self and one kind of knowledge from the inner Self. ... Both fit the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. ...

The Burden of Shakti: Female Agency and Literary Creativity in Orissa
S MOHANTY - Re-defining feminisms, 2008 - Rawat Pubns

Sri Aurobindo-A Contemporary Reader
A Ghose,
S Mohanty - 2008 - Routledge India
A Study of Garibaldian Model (1857-1947)
G Srivastava - Region in Indian History, 2008 - Anamika Publishers & Distributors

The Lives of SRI Aurobindo–By Paul Heehs
A Gleig - Religious Studies Review, 2009

Revolutionary Terrorism in British Bengal
P Heehs - Terror and the Postcolonial: A Concise Companion, 2009

set up by the British. One of the first voices to be raised against the inbred and inactive world of Indian politics was that of Aurobindo Ghose, a Cambridge-educated Bengali
who returned to
India in 1893. In August of that year ... 
Terrorism, Literature, and Sedition in Colonial India
S Morton - Terror and the Postcolonial: A Concise Companion, 2009
“... so admirably vague” Sedition Legislation in the Indian Penal Code In “The Doctrine of Passive Resistance,” the Cambridge graduate and radical Bengali nationalist Aurobindo Ghose criticized the sedition legislation in the Indian Penal Code on the grounds that it is “so ...
Samkaaleen Bharatiya Darshan Swami Vivekanand, Sri Aurobindo, …
BK Lal - 2009

January 25, 2010

Tuning one’s own being to the divine hymn of the Earth

The following excerpt is from In Harmony's Way by Lori Tompkins

The Vedic sages made it abundantly clear that the highest goal of humanity was to become a collective (sangha) of illumined travelers, knowers, singers or dancers of this 360° way of truth and harmony, which was also described as the 12 month sacrifice (yajña) or year which – if observed, seen and celebrated correctly – would generate knowledge of the divine and hence knowledge of immortality. Sri Aurobindo wrote much about this journey-sacrifice (adhvara yajña) towards divine consciousness in The Secret of the Veda. It is a journey towards discovering the ‘hymn of the soul’ that is in absolute attunement to and absolute harmony with the hymn of the Earth, the hymn of the Sun and our Solar System, and the Hymn of the Whole creation.

‘The sacrifice is also a journey; indeed the sacrifice itself is described as travelling, as journeying to a divine goal; and the journey and the sacrifice are both continually spoken of as a battle against the dark powers.' (p.183)

‘[The] part of the Angiras Rishis in the sacrifice is the human part, to find the word, to sing the hymn of the soul to the gods, to sustain and increase the divine Powers by the praise, the sacred food and the Soma-wine, to bring to birth by their aid the divine Dawn, to win the luminous forms of the all-radiant Truth and to ascend to its secret, far and high-seated home.’ (p. 187)

‘[The] gods are invoked for this great journey, adhvara yajña, the sacrifice that travels or is a travel to the home of the godheads and at the same time a battle: for thus it is sung, “Easy of travelling for thee is the path, O Agni, and known to thee from of old. Yoke in the Soma-offering thy ruddy (or actively moving) mares which bear the hero. Seated, I call the births divine” …. What path is this? It is the path between the home of the gods and our earthly mortality down which the gods descend through the [antariksha], the vital regions, to the earthly sacrifice and up which the sacrifice and man by the sacrifice ascends to the home of the gods.’ (p.188)

‘By the truth, in the revolution of the year, they broke Vala ....’ [RV X.62.2] (p. 177)

‘[The] secret eternal worlds have been closed to us, says the Rishi, by the movement of Time, by the months and years; therefore naturally they have to be discovered, revealed, conquered, created in us by the movement of Time ….’ (pp.179-180) – Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda 
The Vedic texts, and especially Sri Aurobindo’s translations of it, are an unparalleled resource to draw on for evidence that the Earth’s year is an eternal or perpetual path, which when traveled, known or observed correctly, will lead past all obstacles and Ignorance (Vala) to Truth-Consciousness/Unity-Consciousness. But no amount of study of Vedic wisdom can be a substitute for actually tuning in to and harmonizing one’s own consciousness and existence with the divine rhythms, tones, measures and progressions of the divine Earth and Cosmos. One literally tunes the instrument of one’s own being to the divine hymn of the Earth, to the divine harmonies of the Cosmos. The result is the realization of the hymn of the soul and an appreciation for how the soul, how the divine spark (Agni) expresses itself throughout all circumstances. One becomes, in a real sense, a Lord of the Dance. 

January 24, 2010

Politics and religion must not be divorced from ethics

So what I’ve tried to do is name books that have functioned as shifting points in my patterns of thinking — books, that is, that have helped me solve problems, or that have helped me discover new, better problems (which is probably better).  As an aside, I should say that the only book that really functioned as a directly affirmative experience, in my memory, is one that Anthony already mentioned: Goodchild’s Capitalism and Religion.  Reading it, I had the intuition that yes, this is exactly how I think of the possible convergence of immanence and the theory of religion.

In any case, the first book I’d name is by Derrida, the one translated as Speech and Phenomena, with the essay “Différance” appended. 

This book brought together a number of directions of my thought: the phenomenological desire to bracket everyday perception in favor of a deeper, more essential encounter between mind and world; the Heideggerean emphases on unconcealment and concealment (presence and absence) and on the relationship between being and difference; the related (though not always obviously) questions of sense versus nonsense, logical impossibility, and undecidability.  I had read Derrida previously, but it was this book that brought together all of these problems at once.  What was so valuable for me was that while my encounter with the book brought about some signifcant advances, the advances resided in the tensions produced.
  • Was Heidegger’s sameness of thought and being the condition for difference, or was difference — understood now as différance — that which opened the field of ontological difference, or the history of being? 
  • Did Derrida’s demonstration of a constitutitive absence in the phenomenon sound the death knell of phenomenology, or did it simply signal the need for an innovative version of phenomenology?
I’m not sure I was able to entirely resolve these questions.  But this development was of real value for me, I suppose, because it expelled a number of paths of thinking.  The problem this book left me was tensive in itself.  It was precisely this irresolvable tension that forced me to look elsewhere, not to evade the problem, but to find a way to make the problem, as problem, generative.  I would guess (because that’s about all one can do in constructing such narratives) that it was this dilemma that pressed me to think more seriously about construction (or production, or creation).  Construction became the coefficient that I multiplied through the elements of this problem.

My second book: Deleuze’s Cinema 2.  This book, to put it as directly as possible, addressed an ethical need.  By ethics here, it is probably worth saying, I have in mind the meaning given by Aristotle or Spinoza, among others.  This is to say that my ethical need belonged to my desire to live life better, more powerfully.  Specifically, this need emerged via two registers.  The first register was political.  I had been getting deeper and deeper into a throroughly politcal account of existence, and I was doing so primarily through the so-called Italian Autonomist tradition.  While I was very much in agreement with the desires this tradition pursued, I felt it running up against a certain limit.  I had difficulty naming this limit, and Cinema 2 enabled me to overcome this difficulty.  
Now, I feel myself already being too “personal,” so in my attempts to evade going further in this direction, let’s just say that the limit was the inability of the Autonomist tradition to think time — this tradition always saw a problem of movement, never a problem of time.  Deleuze, in this book, showed the priority of time to movement, and furthermore, he showed how the priority of time can be expressed through the image, through the product (presuming that product was effected by a production stemming from time itself).  And this connects to the second register, that of religion.  This book, in my mind anyway, displayed the capacity of immanence to exceed the given in a way that was not iconoclastic (due to the importance of the product).  The key to liberation may involve the religious, but not a religion of the transcendent.  What matters are icons of immanence.  And these icons are to be generated by an encounter with what is intolerable in life.  Ethics, I saw, would have to turn on this, and politics and religion must not be divorced from such an ethics. 

Lastly, and much more recently, I’d point to Boyarin’s Border Lines.  What’s compelling for me here is not so much the positive/historical claims regarding the origins of the Jewish-Christian boundary, but rather the method displayed.  What is this method?  It’s hard for me to say, probably in large part because of the relative chronological proximity of encounter with it.  Yet I can say that this method involves a seriousness about religious traditions that refuses to turn this seriousness into an excuse for rendering radical criticisms of tradition into accidents of a traditional essence.  The success Boyarin acheives here is all too rare.  In this sense, I have gained powerful motivation from this book.  It shows that it is possible to take theological discourse seriously at the same time that one refuses to shy away from questions of ideology, interpellation, genealogy, and difference.  I’m probably a couple years away from being able to show, more elaborately, what this makes possible. Posted by danbarber

How would you say that your interest in Yoder (or Christianity more generally) or Adorno fits in with the above mentioned authors and works?

I’m not sure I have a good answer. Yoder’s account of Christianity, I can say, is one that i think connects quite well with the ethics that I mention with regard to Deleuze, and that as a method resonates well with Boyarin’s, though the latter goes further than Yoder. What’s intriguing for me is the sort of conjunction between immanence and Yoder. Adorno, as I see it, addresses questions of mediation that are left too indeterminate in Deleuze’s immanence. That’s the main use of Adorno for me. And I’d say that the tensions/problematics that I mention in relation to Derrida are made creative with the reading I have of Adorno.
I’m pretty sure that’s not an adequately systematic answer! But I’d be happy to try to be more explicit if you have specific/further questions.

I thought, given your comments on Boyarin’s justly praised “Border Lines,” you might also find interesting his latest contribution, “Socrates and the Fat Rabbis.” This book (from my own cursory glance at it) already registers those things I find so compelling in Boyarin’s works: his taking delight in methodological experimentation and profound scholarly humility.
In the former case, he has used across his books insights from Riffaterre’s theory of intertextuality, new historicism, gender/queer studies (esp. the work of his Berkeley colleague, Judith Butler), postcolonialism, and, now, in the latest book, a sustained employment of what surely emerge as a new insightful way of reading Bakhtin. Boyarin is a man who was already well-established within the circles of Talmudic and Midrashic study but chose to retrain himself, enlarging his academic work — a retraining that lead to his current position in the Rhetoric Department at Berkeley. And his retraining ranges from teaching himself Greek so he could write his book on Paul to the many theoretical interventions he has been able to make in a diversity of fields (gender studies, late ancient Christianity, rabbinical Judaism, and many methodological reflections in the study of history and religion).
This methodological and research curiosity is so powerful, in my mind, because it is accompanied by a palpable sense of scholarly humility. He very frequently changes his mind. In the newest book referenced above, he revisits a set of issues on which he has already published a few essays (e.g., his contributions to the volumes “Toward a Theology of Eros” and “Queer Theology”). I’ve also heard him speak a few years ago on the issues, at which time he declared to the audience (and this was still prior to the availability of one of the essays) that he had already come to believe that his conclusions weren’t precisely correct. It’s truly rare for a scholar to publicly admit, in print or in person, that he has changed his mind.

January 22, 2010

Take philosophy off the back burner and apply it as a burning platform in business

Dov Seidman, Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LRN
Posted: January 20, 2010 03:13 PM

The financial and climate crises, global consumption habits, and other 21st-century challenges call for a "killer app." I think I've found it: philosophy.
Philosophy can help us address the (literally) existential challenges the world currently confronts, but only if we take it off the back burner and apply it as a burning platform in business.
Philosophy explores the deepest, broadest questions of life — why we exist, how society should organize itself, how institutions should relate to society, and the purpose of human endeavor, to name just a few. "The Wealth of Nations," a book that serves as the intellectual platform for capitalism, lays out how markets should be organized and how people should behave in such markets. The book's author, Adam Smith, was not an economist, as many believe, but a philosopher. Smith was chairman of the Moral Philosophy Dept. at Glasgow University when he wrote the book.
Like other philosophers, Smith attempted to create a new framework for understanding the world, addressing how we as humans seek alignment in our relationships and among competing interests.
The philosophical approach Smith pursued has faded from use, yet it's more relevant than ever in light of the crises our organizations and countries face. Credit, climate and consumption crises cannot be solved through specialized expertise alone. These problems, like most issues businesses confront in the global marketplace, feature complex interdependencies that require an understanding of how political, financial, environmental, ethical and social interests influence each other. A philosophical approach connects the dots among competing interests in an effort to create synergy. Linking competing interests requires philosophers to examine areas that modern-day domain experts too often ignore: core beliefs, ethics and character.
When I say we need to return to a philosophical approach in relation to problem-solving, I mean that we need to broaden our understanding of problems by looking deeper at our own beliefs, values, ethics and character, and then understand how they relate to those of others who share a stake in our problem-solving efforts.
Needed: Broader questions and goals
This has grown difficult to do at the organizational level because so many of our businesses are packed with specialized domain experts. We are having trouble connecting the dots among these knowledge silos to conceive enduring solutions.

Like philosophers, we as individuals and organizations need to keep values, ethics and the overall human condition in mind as we make decisions and take actions. Among other behaviors, this means hiring for character (in addition to specialized skills), considering the long-term implications (in addition to the short-term rewards) of our decisions, and figuring out how we can create value (in addition to extracting value).
By taking these steps and embracing a more philosophical approach to problem-solving, we will establish our character as the 21st century's defining competitive differentiator. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus so elegantly put it almost 2,500 years ago: "Character is fate." This holds true for individuals and organizations.
I see growing evidence of businesses asserting their desire to address the human condition, which certainly marks a step in the right direction.
My bias stems from my experience as an undergraduate at UCLA, where philosophy lit a fire inside me. By rewarding me for the careful consideration of one idea instead of compelling me to read hundreds of pages of text, philosophy helped me understand why I was struggling in all other academic areas. I studied philosophy for seven years before I went to law school, where I took eight classes in jurisprudence, which is essentially the philosophy of law.
A more ethical corporate sector
Although I pursued my philosophical studies because I was inspired by the subject, I also reached a conclusion that led me to found LRN, a company that helps businesses develop ethical corporate cultures: Philosophy is powerful enough to tackle sprawling issues. The discipline remains amazingly practical after existing for more than 2,000 years.

Here's a timely and practical example of how applied philosophy can generate a new business idea: At LRN, we don't think of our suppliers as "vendors" or our customers as "buyers." They are all our "partners" in a shared effort to build our businesses together in the service of a big idea — a more ethical corporate sector. This may sound abstract, but it's actually quite practical.
When you share a philosophical concept or a world view, you create alignment, whether it's with a colleague, a trading partner or another stakeholder. Without that shared vision, relationships often bog down in low-level squabbles.
During LRN's negotiations, for instance, instead of butting heads with our partners across the table over low-level details, we strive to remember that we share common ground and that we are committing to working together for years. If we remember that, we're more likely to reach a win-win agreement that deepens our connections.
LRN is hardly alone. As I wrote in an earlier story, more companies appear eager to deepen connections with their own partners and the human condition in general. I was recently struck by the simplicity of Ally Bank's print advertisement expressing its competitive advantage: "We Speak Human."
Wanted: Philosophers in pinstripes
These corporations are promoting the notion that their mission extends beyond profit and provides new frameworks — transportation, fuel, manufacturing and so forth — for improving existence. These assertions require supporting actions over the long term if they are to have merit. In our connected and transparent world, where so many can easily see deeply into our operations, it has become clear that companies and even nations have character — and that their character is their destiny. For institutions to ensure that their characters, or cultures, are consistent with their behavior, they need more humans within their organizations who can appropriately manifest the desired culture through leadership, business practices and individual behaviors.

When LRN posted the job listing for the New York office administrator position that Emily recently stepped into, we included a specification designed to let candidates know that we valued what they might contribute to our company, beyond their administrative skills: "Philosophy major preferred." We hoped to find someone like Emily, who could truly connect with our mission and not just "do the job." That qualification seemed a bright idea.
It turned out to be a practical idea. Before my September trip to China, philosophy major Emily took the initiative to join a group of staff members who brainstormed with me about ways I might connect international company executives, local business people, students and Chinese citizens on the topic of values, ethics and behaviors. Our office manager and philosopher added value in a way that someone hired exclusively for a skill set probably would not have been able to contribute. Anyone — not only philosophy majors — can think more broadly and more deeply about the beliefs and values at the root of our crises, but Emily certainly does.
This is hopeful news at a time when massive problems are nudging people to hunker down, rather than to lean in and connect.
These connections are vital as we engage deeper with the 21st century's biggest challenges. As we do this, we will find that philosophy's application is not only "killer" in a practical sense, but necessary in a fundamentally human one. Dov Seidman: Philosophy Is Back in Business