April 29, 2010

Plotinus, Bruno, Schelling, Bradley, and Sri Aurobindo

The Life Divine (LD), Sri Aurobindo’s comprehensive and definitive philosophical statement. http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/sriauro/writings.php

The Life Divine is composed of two books. “Book One,” titled “Omnipresent Reality and the Universe,” comprises twenty-eight chapters. These form three distinct blocks: an introduction (chapters 1 to 7), an overview of Vedanta (chapters 8 to 12), and a portion dealing with Supermind (chapters 13 to 28). Through them run several threads of thought. Prominent ones belong to Materialism, Illusionism, and “the logic of the Infinite.” These represent key philosophical positions competing to provide, among other things, an adequate explanation of our existence (or non-existence) in the universe. Since “the logic of the Infinite” stood for Sri Aurobindo’s own position, we should not be surprised to find its traces in each chapter of the book. Explaining right at the start how the “direct contradiction of the unrealised ideals with the realised fact” could be “part of Nature’s profoundest method,” he wrote: […]
Unlike in formal logic, where the opposites exclude each other, in Nature they seem to need and support each other. This complementarity of contraries was the corner-stone of Sri Aurobindo’s approach. Regarding the Absolute, which the orthodox Materialism flatly denied and the orthodox Illusionism affirmed as the sole Reality, Sri Aurobindo argued that its timeless, unconditioned way of being (verifiable, in principle, by direct spiritual experience) did not annul the validity of cosmic and individual existence. The concept of the Absolute was pivotal: it constrained and predetermined all subsequent problems and solutions. Being versus Becoming, the nature of individual existence, the problem of evil – they all unfolded seamlessly from this initial point of departure.
To the materialist, the concept of the Absolute must appear impractical, to say the least. Not only does it lie beyond any objective verification but – even worse – it cannot be adequately captured in intellectual terms. How, then, can it help in explaining the universe? No wonder he shies away from it. The initial exploration of the universe seemed to justify his attitude: […]
A deeper inquiry, however, revealed a puzzle to which there was no simple solution. […]
In the opening chapters of “Book Two,” Sri Aurobindo occasionally referred to Supermind but did not go into details. Instead, he relied on the extensive treatment of Supermind in the second half of “Book One.” He actually used the term right from the beginning, but there he simply meant a kind of consciousness above and beyond the reach of normal mentality. For example, when he commented on the Non-Being or “the Nihil of certain Buddhist schools,” he wrote: […]
Marcel Kvassay, a graduate of Slovak Technical University in Bratislava, worked for Oxford University Press in the area of English Language Teaching, and for Alcatel as a trainer and a software development methodologist. He spent several years in Puducherry, India, most of the time working at SABDA, a book distribution unit of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department.

Aurobindo's monism in which the One differentiates itself in time and space (extension) as finite souls in the infinite has many similarities with Schelling in his work Bruno. He refers to this process of differentiation of the One as ...

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