November 27, 2012

Ethics and an edifice of falsity, fantasy, and indeterminacy

Why India Is Not A Secular State - Omar Khalidi Outlook 29 Jan 2009 – With the Republic Day just gone by, it is time to ask: But is India really a secular state? I do not think so…
Official functions of the government whether at the central or state levels often commence with Hindu ceremonies of lighting lamps, breaking coconuts, and recitation of slokas. There is no disapproval to the fact that functions of central and state ministries of education begin with Sarasvati vandana.

India is not secular 6 Feb 2009 – It is easier now to understand the fallacy of Dr. Omar Khalidi's argument, such as it is, in his essay Why India Is Not A Secular State…
When the French writer Andre Malraux asked Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958 about his "greatest difficulty since Independence" then Nehru replied, "Creating a just state by just means". He then added: "Perhaps, too, creating a secular state in a religious country." Indian state is a work in progress but the foundations are right. The champions of modern Indian state fought hard to create a secular democratic state.

Spirituality and Ethics in Management - Page 214 - Google Books Result - Laszlo Zsolnai - 2011 - Laszlo Zsolnai, Business Ethics Center, Budapest University of Economic Sciences - Taking Spirituality Seriously: Misuse of Spirituality
As spirituality is becoming popular there is certain danger of its being misinterpreted and misused in business and management. Chakraborty warns that there is a tendency to treat spirituality as yet another means or tool to further the dominant objective and measurable goals of business. We can observe that spirituality is sometimes treated as either a new fad for professionals to rake in some money or a means to improve competitive strength for higher market share and bottom line figures.
Bouckaert clearly explains the problem. He states that rational economic theory tells us that ethics is needed as a resource to temper opportunism and distrust because of uncertainty and asymmetric information. Therefore ethics might make economic sense by reducing transaction costs, promoting profitable cooperative behavior and creating a competitive advantage. This rational argument does not challenge the economic logic; it only introduces ethics into the web of instrumental rationality. The rational argument for business ethics results in a paradox.

The issue isn’t one of rejecting these figures because of their style as Nussbaum did in the case of Butler, nor is it one of rejecting these thinkers at all, but rather of identifying a different sort of power at work in these texts that often is quite at odds with the explicit aims of the texts. This point seems to be getting lost in a number of the responses, no doubt because us continentalists– especially if we’re from the United States –are especially sensitive to this issue because we’ve suffered so many difficulties professionally in relation to Anglo-American philosophy having to defend the value of these thinkers. We know (or many of us think), for example, that there is something of tremendous value in Lacan’s work, yet the very first thing we encounter again and again in discussions with others about someone like Lacan, is curt dismissals of that work based on style alone. We thus find ourselves in the position of having to do all sorts of defensive legwork defending the purpose and importance of both the text and its stylistic decisions before we can even begin to discuss the conceptual issues.
What I’m proposing is that these stylistic practices have their own dynamic of power that is often at odds with the express aim of these practices. In A Thousand Plateaus, for example, Deleuze and Guattari contrast root-books and rhizome-books in the introduction to the work. Root-books are centralized, “paranoid” (in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense of the word), and presided over by an author-function that works much like a sovereign. Rhizome-books, by contrast, lack any centralizations, can be read in a variety of different ways, and connected to anything we might like. at 6:59 PM

The Lectern: 'Rene Leys' Victor Segalen 10 Oct 2011 [In this entrancing story of spiritual adventure, a Westerner in Peking seeks the mystery at the heart of the Forbidden City. ... Google Books]
Then, Segalen has his third epiphany, that every tale told to him by Leys in fact originated as a suggestion from Segalen himself, in his obsession with the Kuang Hsu Emperor, in his questions to the lad in their lessons and conversations, and his quest to gain entry into the Within, the Forbidden City. Leys took these questions and suggestions from Segalen, and built up from them an edifice of falsity and fantasy and fed it back to Segalen: ...from the very moment of our first meeting...Everything I said, he did. …
At this point the reader is reminded of the kind of narrative strategies used by Italo Calvino in If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. But whereas Calvino was exploring the psychology of reading, here the narratives games have an important philosophical function, which is to examine the different cultural attitudes towards indeterminacy itself.
The West, we can simply say, regards indeterminacy as problematic. The Western mind, trained in the precision of Aristotelian scientism and the Socratic syllogism, seeks to resolve indeterminacy into an either-or, or at least, tries to establish a clear boundary between component or antithetical elements of an entity. This is reflected in Indo-European, inflected languages, whose driving force is in the direction of disambiguation.
The East, on the other hand, is much more comfortable with indeterminacy, with vagueness. Chinese characters embody several ideas and the distinctions between them are not sought; the Chinese language, with its lack of distinction between nouns and verbs, lack of pronoun use and so on, is much more capable of sustaining ambiguity. Indeed we can go further and say the whole language and culture privileges indeterminacy, and that the search for clarification, for disambiguation, is not its main direction. For the Chinese, the process of clarification carries with it the inherent danger of creating false distinctions where none exist in nature, of the false imposition of mind on matter, of the name obscuring the thing, of a wrong seeing.
The Western mind seeks either-or distinctions; the Chinese mind is unperturbed by dwelling in a state of what Keats called 'negative capability'…The circular, anticipatory structure of the novel, and the fact that Rene Leys is a European lad ensures that the dialogue between West and East happens in the mind of the reader, not only on the page…
The mystery of the ways in which the fictional story of Rene Leys anticipates the real story of Sir Edmund Backhouse only deepens when we learn that in his memoir, Decadence Mandchoue, which has only this year been published, Backhouse, also like Rene Leys, claimed to have been the secret lover of his Empress Dowager (old Buddha), and to have had intimate knowledge of the workings of the Manchu Dynasty. VS died in 1919, however, and knew nothing of Backhouse's disgrace. POSTED BY MURR AT 11:55 AM MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2011

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