March 02, 2012

Rupturing self-referential circles

Ancient Indian Wisdom and Contemporary Challenges
Kireet Joshi
The hope built up by the Reason that humanity can be so rationally governed that liberty, equality and fraternity can be actualized in the life of humanity has now been demonstrably proved to be unrealisable, since rationality is unable to provide equality, even at the minimum level, without strangulating freedom, and fraternity does not find even an elbow room when Reason goes on constructing, mechanising and dehumanising edifices. And yet it is not possible to remain reconciled with the failures of the powers of Reason and to forget the dreams of freedom, unity and brotherhood. The soul of humanity cries out to look for the means by which the ideals of progress can be actualised as urgently as possible…
We may hasten to add that while the importance of the ancient wisdom of India is to be underlined, we should not be blind to the need of exploring other systems of wisdom and even new knowledge. Ancient Indian wisdom has always counselled us to rise higher and higher and to be always more and more luminous, unfettered by the past and any dogmas or preconceived beliefs. In India, we speak of the Aryan spirit, and the Aryan spirit is not something narrow or communal or racial, but the spirit of the free man that wants to labour and work with wisdom and with one supreme motive of loka sangrah, the motive of preserving and creating solidarity and unity of the people. (Reproduced from the author’s book entitled Indian Identity and Cultural Continuity, 2011, pp. 35-49, with the kind permission of The Mother’s Institute of Research, New Delhi) Sraddha February 2012 Sri Aurobindo Centre for Research in Social Sciences, Kolkata

Peter Heehs - Shades of Orientalism: Paradoxes & Problems in Indian Historiography Peter Heehs  [published in History and Theory 42 (May 2003), pp.169-195 © Wesleyan University 2003 ISSN: 0018-2656] 
Such scholars stress Aurobindo’s nationalistic premises but miss the broader thrust of his arguments… The approach of the nationalists was a product of their age, and much of it is obsolete. Their essentializing of the Indian soul, for instance, is unjustifiable on historical or anthropological grounds, and politically dangerous. On the other hand, the dissolution of all cultural distinctiveness in the name of political stability, which Said seems sometimes to propose,[109] would also be bad social science and would not provide a solution to our political problems.
Writers like Chatterji, Tagore and Aurobindo laid stress on India’s distinctiveness because it seemed threatened by absorption into a universalized Europe. But they were also internationalists who knew and respected Europe and worked for intercultural understanding.[110] Their defenders and detractors lay stress on their essentialism, but they themselves went beyond it, contesting the validity of Eurocentrism without promoting an equally imperfect Indocentrism. Pondicherry, India 11:14 AM

"Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism" by Peter Heehs -- reviewed by Raman Reddy 12 Aug 2010 – The following paragraph is from a booklet by Peter Heehs entitled Sri Aurobindo on Hinduism and published by the Sri Aurobindo Society, ...

What is postcolonial predicament? Ranabir Samaddar, EPW
One of the reasons behind this return to antiquity in the metropolitan world today is possibly due to an ahistorical notion of critique, produced from within the realm of theory, that delinks knowledge from social practices and makes critique an element in the self-referential cycle of ideas and discourses, be they philosophical, literary, or scientific. This was the reason why Marx broke with this idea of critique, argued that we must begin critique by arms, expounded the famous theses eleven, in particular the 11th thesis (1845), wrote the critique of political economy, and grounded critique in modern empirical reality to show the inexhaustible nature of the reality that a formal discipline cannot subsume. Knowledge, as distinct from theory, which now appears rechristened as critique, on the other hand, progresses in a continuously developing frame of ideas and material practices, perched on the borderlines of these two domains. The question of limits, plasticity, etc, is linked to this borderline existence. Therefore it is not enough to assimilate humanities with critique or criticism unless we know what we are critiquing and the limits we are reflecting thereby, the limits produced by the outside – the reality – that we have to invoke in order to produce a critique. Through all these we have before us emerging two worlds or styles of knowledge: In one, the self-referential nature of producing knowledge is supreme, in the other the production of data is supreme leaving no time for self-referential exercises in terms of genealogy of knowledge, perhaps to its own good…
In our time Foucault became the American Foucault through translation inasmuch as Tagore became the mystic Oriental in Europe, and Karl Marx became the academic Marx in the Anglo-American universities. This is because in this site called translation there is no engagement with the world and the milieu these figures represent or represented. If there were some, it was only engagement with discourses. There are all kinds of translation programmes (perhaps the most under-researched ones by translation theorists are the Foreign Language Publishing Houses in erstwhile socialist countries such as the Soviet Union, possibly the largest), not only translation between languages but between mediums also. Therefore there cannot be any general theory of translation, save the fact that it is part of the logistics of the global production of knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Tusar! the awakened Soul's desire is very different from what the 'reasoning' mind's agenda is.
    I know this because She who is awake-in-me/ME hears the cries of the world.
    In my blog I share what it's like to live (in my skin) with this terrible burden.