September 18, 2012

Always Monday, Eternal recurrence, and privacy of consciousness

[Lectures on consciousness and interpretation - MohantyJitendranath MohantyTara Chatterjee - 2009 - 168 pages - Jitendranath Mohanty, Tara Chatterjee ... To reach the grand metaphysics I aim at, I will ask the question: what makes it possible that human consciousness can, through science and philosophy, venture to articulate the structure of reality? What justifies the possibility of success here — if human mind and reality were completely separated? Possibly, an inner unity of some sort.
Discussion on the Lecture of J.N. Mohanty Coordinator: Thank you. Life, mind, and consciousness: papers read at a seminar held at ... - Ramakrishna Mission. Institute of Culture - 2004 - 519 pages]

[Lectures on consciousness and interpretation - MohantyJitendranath MohantyTara Chatterjee - 2009 - 168 pages - Jitendranath Mohanty, Tara Chatterjee. … in recent times, one should take it with a good deal of philosophical skepticism and challenge the notion of privacy that they ascribe to the classical theory of consciousness. One should challenge their notion of subjectivity.]

[Difference Engines or Bhaskar's Objects « Larval Subjects 18 Nov 2009 – Bhaskar’s realist claims are a lot more robust than a sort of nod to the Kantian in-itself. Bhaskar’s question, it will be recalled, is “what must the world be like for our science to be possible?” Where the transcendental idealist asks “what must our cognition to be like for such and such a type of judgment to be possible?”, Bhaskar instead inverts the question and makes it one about the world itself. He argues that minimally intransitive objects (objects independent of mind or society) must be causal mechanisms (what I’d call “difference engines”), that are structured and differentiated, and that act regardless of whether or not humans know about them or exist.]

[Harman on Some Crucial Points About Theory Building from Larval Subjects Graham has a fantastic post: If I say that mathematism and scientism give us no good explanation of why perfect knowledge of a tree would not itself be a tree, it is insufficent to say “but of course they know that knowledge and trees are different.” The point isn’t what they know qua humans, but what their theories lead to as logical consequences.]

[Heidegger and Sri Aurobindo by Rod Hemsell Thinking now means analyzing and reducing things to practical statements and theories, by which we lose contact with the reality about which we are speaking. Both the reality and the understanding get reduced to a framework that is useful but it is not the force and quality and nature of things themselves which can be known 'gnostically', by identity.
Because, eventually, it may be possible to compare Heidegger and Sri Aurobindo, (this is one of our goals), it is important to realize that both of them have presented their metaphysical philosophy from three points of view. One is the classical, ancient, scriptural point of view. Both have based their thinking on ancient language and concepts. Both have developed rational, philosophical reasons to justify and communicate their philosophy. And both have relied on experience. Therefore we can say conventionally that they have presented arguments from scripture, from reason, and from experience. And for both everything finally depends on experience.
This short and concise text, Basic Concepts, is a good example of these three approaches. Heidegger dwells on a few passages from Anaximander and attempts to bring out the meaning of these ancient expressions that are no longer thought; they are hardly thinkable. In Sri Aurobindo's case he has brought back Vedic Sanskrit texts that are hardly readable any more. And yet he found there the source of his philosophy. There is a combination of linguistic genius and philosophical intentionality that has enabled both of them to bring out the meanings from ancient languages that would otherwise probably not be accessible to us. Sri Aurobindo happens to have also been a Greek scholar at Cambridge and situates much of his thought in the context of classical Greek as well as Sanskrit writings. For example, he wrote a series of essays on Heraclitus which is very much along the lines of Heidegger's thinking.
What we might realize on this path is something about the ancient mentality before calculative thought came into the picture. That's why Heidegger is interested in it. He sees in that way of thinking a way to address our loss of a closer identity with the world, because we are only interested in manipulating it. Both thinkers are trying to bring back into perspective a way of seeing that is not so accessible to our thinking or experience today. We benefit from going with them into this process of revealing, through classical language, a way of thinking other than the one we are accustomed to.
Here Heidegger refers to scriptural statements from Anaximander, then he develops a tight and concise philosophical argument concerning the difference between being and beings, as he has done in many texts, but this one is exceptionally tight and almost Upanishadic. Then, finally, he guides our thinking, if we are willing, along a pathway towards a seeing of being, and not just a thinking about being, but a seeing of being as the Same. In the writings on Heraclitus by Sri Aurobindo and in Heidegger's writings on the pre-socratics, both have referred to the writings of Nietzsche who is well known for his philosophy of the eternal recurrence of the same. Now what is this 'the same'? This is the secret that Heidegger is moving towards, the seeing of being, the idein. The seeing of the idea or reality of something in Greek is idein. This concept of the Same is what Heidegger concludes these reflections with. And I have noted that in The Ever-Present Origin, in Gebser's chapter on the philosophy of time,
the first thing he refers to is the incipient saying of being in the fragment of Anaximander. And almost everything he says about origin and time comes from this short commentary of Heidegger, which Gebser acknowledges openly as a fundamental understanding of time brought forward by Heidegger. December 24, 2011]

[5h Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty "it was always March there and always Monday." (p.355) ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel García Márquez: … by jeff k. hill~oglesby, illinois
A fine example of the blending of history and myth (and the precise and sincere narrative tone in the novel) is the aftermath of the banana workers' strike… But this line inscribes a circle. Úrsula, the central female character, is repeatedly struck by the conviction that time is going in a circle and events are repeating. Pilar Ternera observes that "the history of the family was a machine with unavoidable repetitions, a turning wheel that would have gone on spilling into eternity were it not for the progressive and irremediable wearing of the axle." (p.402) In the case of the room of the gypsy Melquíades, "it was always March there and always Monday." (p.355) 
And the very first sentence of the novel is constructed such that past, present, and future all exist at once, with time flowing out in every direction. Indeed, the novel is multilayered, telling many stories of many characters often all at once, as if they coexisted all at once. I have found the best way to read and understand the book is to digest it in individual episodes that follow characters and thoughts with no regard at all for time. Some of my favorite episodes in the novel are the trickle of blood (p.135), the shower of flowers (p.144), and the discovery of a monster or fallen angel or the Wandering Jew (p.349-50). Embedded within the episodes are also synopses of several of the author's short stories. Many people recognise in the novel a central Oedipal plot line veined with a theme of solitude.]

[SavitriEraParty: Plasticity, politics, and unity of purpose - Amod Lele, Levi Bryant @onticologist, Ian Angus, & Sri Aurobindo Studies:]

September 17, 2012

Plasticity, politics, and unity of purpose

My own thoughts are similarly animated by this quest for the big picture. It’s why I have never been satisfied with analytic philosophy, which tries to solve philosophical problems by chopping them up into smaller and smaller pieces… Doull’s thought, like Hegel’s, does not do justice to the philosophies of Asia, and does not incorporate them into his mature synthesis, and for that reason I do keep my distance from him. Alternately, I do share what I take to be Ken Wilber’s overarching project of a global synthesis that does incorporate Asian traditions as well as science and feminism – but I do not think Wilber has succeeded at that project. It would be hard to call myself Doullian and I could not call myself Wilberian – let alone Buddhist or Marxist!
Being an intellectual outsider can be lonely at times. One doesn’t get a community of like-minded fellows with whom one sympathizes, whom one can turn to for mutual affirmation. It makes, I suspect, for a less happy intellectual life. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.]

[James Doull And The Philosophic Task Of Our Time Ian Angus, Simon Fraser University Animus 10 (2005) 1. Hegel And The Philosophic Task Of Our Time
In an essay published in 1973 James Doull defined the organization of contemporary society in terms of two principles, “an unlimited technical and economic expansion” and “the utopian confidence that men can live together in unity of purpose.” … 5. Conclusion: Self-Rule As The Philosophic Task Of Our Time    
The realization of self-rule implies that the Hegelian analysis of the relationship between particular will and concrete universality must be re-thought. The reflective, mediated, concrete universality that Hegel attributed to the nation-state has been found to have shifted its location.
Doull argued that this set a transformed internationalist and federalist task for a contemporary Hegelianism. The “state” in Hegelian terms is thus not simply the state (or nation-state or nations-state) of sociological observation. Pertinent to this rethinking is the observation by the great political sociologist Rodberto Michels of the “iron law of oligarchy” that attended the social democratic parties when they achieved state power and which applies with even less reservation to Communist parties. escaped only in theory…
If the apparently universal institution of the state has degenerated due to the failure to realize self-rule, it is also the case that particular will takes a different form than that assigned by Hegel. After all, the Hegelian task of subordinating science and technology to universality has not, as Doull’s cultural analysis demonstrates, been very successful.]

[On Ontology by larvalsubjects
A social and political ontology– every social and political theory and practice assumes an ontology –can be right in holding that norms, laws, beliefs, texts, fictions, and ideologies play a key role in why social-relations hold together in the way that they do, while being wrong in not noticing that power lines, sanitation systems, roads, water reservoirs, microbes, livestock, food preservation technologies, plant life, weather patterns, etc, also play a key role in the form social relations take.  In our political practice, this oversight, of course, would have important practical implications for we might find ourselves in a situation where we have successful debunked a belief and persuaded the majority of the population that this belief or ideology is mistaken, while nonetheless finding ourselves frustrated that social relations don’t change.  Here our failure to produce change would arise from failing to recognize that how things are materially related also plays a central role in why social relations take the form they do.  In its over-emphasis on the discursive in our political practice, we would have forgotten that we also need to arrange things materially in new ways to render new types of social relations possible.
The questions of philosophical ontology are very general and basic.  They are questions such as what features, if any, do all beings share in common?  Are all beings, regardless of type, processes?  Are they substances and what are the nature of substances?  Are substances and processes identical to one another (my position)?  Are being and becoming identical or distinct?  They are questions of what types of beings exist at the most general level.  Are all beings material?  Do ideal, mind-independent, entities exist?  Are there minds in addition to bodies or are bodies and minds identical?  Do universals exist?  Are numbers real entities or do they only exist in the mind.  If the latter, how does nature turn out to be so mathematical?  We also get the regional ontologies.  What is the being of life?  What is the being of art?  What is the being of societies?  Ontology asks what the nature of time and space is.  It seeks to determine whether all relations are internal (inseparable) or external (separable) or some combination of both.
It is often asked whether an ontology presupposes and entails a politics.  In my view, this is a very odd question.  On the one hand, it seems to hold that we should choose our ontology based on our politics.  That is, it seems to entail that we should base our claims about what is and what is not based on what we believe ought to be and what ought not to be.  So here, I suppose, we’re supposed to claim that nuclear weapons and corporations don’t exist because we believe they ought not to exist.  That is a peculiar position to say the least.  It is equally odd to claim that an ontology entails any particular politics.  If ontology is a discourse about being, and being is what is, how could it entail a particular politics?  Oppressive regimes are something that are.  As such, they must be accounted for by any ontology.  The claim that ontology entails a particular politics would be the claim that forms of politics contrary to this politics entailed by an ontology can’t exist.  It’s the claim that being ineluctably generates the right politics; which is clearly quite contrary to our daily experience in the world.
To be clear, the distinction between politics and ontology does not entail that an ontology cannot be contaminated by particular ideological and political biases… We don’t enter the domain of ethics and politics until we begin to raise questions about what ought to be.  While ethics and politics will be intertwined with ontological issues– insofar as every discourse makes ontological assumptions –ethics and politics are distinct from ontology in that ethics and politics select what ought to be, they are premised on a partiality that is futural in the sense that they aim at arrangements of being where certain types of being would exist and others would not, where certain types of events would take place and others would not, where certain types of relations would arise and others would not, while ontology does not make such selections.  Perhaps we could say that where ontology is concerned with the present and what has been, ethics and politics are modal in the sense that they are concerned with what could and should be.  We enter the domain of the ethical and political where we are actively trying to form being, rather than simply approaching it in terms of what it is.
Given that most of us in both our personal and social lives are concerned with being being a certain way, what value, then, does ontology have?  Ontology has value insofar as it is difficult to form being in the way we aim for if we do not have a knowledge of what being is and what entities are active in assemblages.  Without some basic knowledge of this, it is unlikely that our futural aims will amount to much.  For example, in the case of the social ontology that sees society as composed of beliefs, norms, contracts, ideologies, etc., it is unlikely that this ontology will get very far in forming the just society it envisions if it ignores the role that nonhuman, material entities play in the social assemblages from which we suffer. “Politics is a Field of Forces” by larvalsubjects
Politics is not merely the presence of things exerting force on one another, but is that precise moment where that field of forces is contested, challenged, and it is declared that something else is possible, that things don’t have to be this way. Making something political that was previously apolitical requires a lot of hard work… The politics is not there already. The whole point is to get the politics there. Politics isn’t a state-of-affairs, but is the moment of intervention.]

Sri Aurobindo outlines three conditions or psychological states that the seeker must adopt to carry out the transformation of the Divine Mahashakti. These conditions are consciousness, plasticity and unreserved surrender… 
It is especially important not to let the limited human mind, emotions. life and body restrict, obstruct or prevent the operation of the Divine Shakti in the nature. Since they cannot judge something so much larger than their capabilities, it is essential to adopt an attitude of receptivity as outlined by Sri Aurobindo here.]

[1m - Savitri Era Party @SavitriEraParty One-stop blog for curing all theoretical confusion and muddled thinking just a click away at Savitri Era Learning Forum - Posted by Tusar N. Mohapatra  Location: Shipra Riviera, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India]

September 16, 2012

Sri Aurobindo has been gently set aside when country’s history is discussed

[The other jarring point in the book is the short shrift that Mishra gives to ‘radical’ freedom-fighter Aurobindo Ghose, who later metamorphosed into a spiritual leader and came to be known as Sri Aurobindo. He does acknowledge Aurobindo’s eminence, but only just, picking some of his sundry quotes like, “Bengalis were drunk with the wine of European civilisation”. It is not a remark that must have made him popular in his home State, and perhaps explains why he has been gently set aside when the country’s history is discussed. Apparently, for the author — like for the British — Sri Aurobindo was a mere footnote in the pages of history, while the likes of Rabindranath Tagore were the central figures.
It is true that Tagore influenced the country’s political philosophy immensely, but he had one ‘advantage’ which Sri Aurobindo lacked: A greater acceptability in the West following the Nobel Prize for literature that he won. Suddenly, he was an international figure and had a global platform to propagate his views. Still, it cannot be forgotten — and Mishra ought to have taken it into account — that Aurobindo’s contribution was not merely restricted to political awakening; he showed the path to ‘intellectual spiritualism’. That legacy still lives on in the Auroville Ashram in Puducherry. RAJESH SINGH  The alternative truth PIONEER Sunday Edition  Agenda  BOOKS  SATURDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2012]

[Autobiographical Notes_Vol-36 VOLUME 36: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SRI AUROBINDO NOTE ON THE TEXTS PART TWO: LETTERS OF HISTORICAL INTEREST […] Most of the letters included in Part Two of the present volume were written before 1927. Those that were written after that date are parts of sequences that began earlier, or deal with special subjects, such as Indian politics. […]
Letters and Telegrams to Political and Professional Associates, 1906 ­ 1926. In August 1906 Sri Aurobindo began work as principal of the Bengal National College and as an editorial writer for the daily newspaper Bande Mataram. In May 1908 he was arrested in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case. A year later he was released. In 1910 he settled in Pondicherry and cut off all direct connection with the freedom movement, though he continued to be regarded by the British government as a dangerous revolutionary. For a while he remained in indirect contact with the movement through Motilal Roy of Chandernagore.
To Bipin Chandra Pal. 1906. Bipin (also spelled "Bepin") Chandra Pal (1858 ­ 1932) was a nationalist speaker and writer. Sri Aurobindo apparently wrote this note to him in September or October 1906. At this time, Pal was editor-in-chief of the nationalist newspaper Bande Mataram and Sri Aurobindo was its chief writer. This note was put in as evidence in the Alipore Bomb Trial (1908 ­ 9). The original has been lost. The text is reproduced here from a "paperbook" or printed transcript of the documentary evidence. […]Page – 574
To K. R. Appadurai. 13 April 1916. Appadurai was the brother-in-law of the poet Subramania Bharati. Bharati was living as a refugee in French Pondicherry at the time this letter was written. The "Mr. K. V. R" to whom Sri Aurobindo refers was K. V. Rangaswami Iyengar, who sometimes helped him out financially. […] Page – 580
To Joseph Baptista. 5 January 1920. Joseph Baptista (1864 ­ 1930) was a barrister and nationalist politician who was associated with Bal Gangadhar Tilak. In 1919 a group of nationalists of Bombay who took their inspiration from Tilak decided to form a party and to bring out an English daily newspaper. They deputed Baptista to write to Sri Aurobindo and offer him the editorship of the paper. Sri Aurobindo wrote this letter in reply.
To Balkrishna Shivaram Moonje. B. S. Moonje (1872 ­ 1948) was a medical practitioner and political activist of Nagpur. When Sri Aurobindo knew him in 1907 ­ 8, Moonje was one of the leaders of the Nationalist or Extremist Party. (Later he helped to found the Hindu Mahasabha; see Sri Aurobindo's telegram to Moonje in Part Three, under "On the Cripps Proposal".) Sri Aurobindo stayed with Moonje when he visited Nagpur in January 1908. Twelve years later, Moonje and others invited Sri Aurobindo to preside over the forthcoming Nagpur session of the Indian National Congress. In letter [1] , dated 30 August 1920, Sri Aurobindo set forth his reasons for declining this honour. [2] In this telegram, date-stamped on arrival 19 September 1920, he reiterated his decision.
To Chittaranjan Das. 18 November 1922. A barrister of Calcutta who became famous for successfully defending Sri Aurobindo in the Alipore Bomb Case (1908 ­ 9), Chittaranjan Das (1870 ­ 1925) later entered politics and became the leader of the Swarajya Party, which advocated entering the government's legislative assemblies in order to "wreck them from within". Sri Aurobindo wrote this letter to Das on the same day that he wrote another to his brother Barin (see the first letter under "To Barindra Kumar Ghose and Others" in Section Two below).
To Shyamsundar Chakravarty. 12 March 1926. Shyamsundar Chakravarty (sometimes spelled Chakrabarti or Chakraborty) (1869 ­ 1932) was a nationalist writer and orator. When Sri Aurobindo was editor-in-chief of the nationalist newspaper Bande Mataram, Chakravarty was one of its main writers. Eighteen years later he became editor of the Bengalee, a moderate nationalist newspaper of Calcutta. At that time he wrote to Sri Aurobindo inviting him to send contributions. This letter is Sri Aurobindo's reply. The original manuscript is not available. The text is reproduced from an old typed copy.]

September 13, 2012

Women are more fluid and flexibly adapt to new circumstances

[But human beings have great difficulty accepting and dwelling in such existential vulnerability. We fall into what the philosopher Martin Heidegger called idle talk—forms of discourse that serve to cover over our human finiteness and the finiteness of all those we love. We succumb to a kind of forgetfulness of our finite kind of being and to a forgetfulness of the terrible lesson we learned 11 years ago today. (title unknown) from enowning In Psychology Today, Robert Stolorow on remembering 9/11.]

[Ms. Butler's  theory views Western civilization as a peculiarly sinister form of imperial domination, and believes that "subverting" that "hegemony" constitutes an act of liberation. By RICHARD LANDES AND BENJAMIN WEINTHAL September 9, 2012]

[Popper's work, therefore, was fuelled by a number of engines: a disillusionment with Marxism, the increase of Austrian fascism, which led to his move to New Zealand in 1937 and then London in 1946, and a distaste for the psychological models of the day… During his time in New Zealand, Popper wrote his principal political tract, The Open Society and Its Enemies, a two-volume work in which both Plato and Marx come under fire. Liz Williams 10 September 2012]

[What I failed to see clearly at that time is the Marxian thesis that “individuals are the real architects of history.” Also I downplayed Hegelian accent on human beings as expression of the Absolute. In effect I was reading Hegel through the eyes of Bosanquet, particularly his ‘Philosophical Theories of State’. I was unduly influenced not only by Popper’s ‘Open Society’ but also by Hobhouse’s criticism of the Hegelian political philosophy as expounded in the ‘Metaphysical Theory of State.’  D.P. Chattopadhyaya - History, Culture and Truth p.343 10:30 AM]

[But, in her fascinating new book, "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin posits a different theory. It has to do with adaptability. Women, Rosin argues, are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid. This theory has less to do with innate traits and more to do with social position. Brooks: As women learn to adapt, men are falling behind Houston Chronicle - Tuesday, September 11, 2012]