December 06, 2012

Inchoate and unequal Integralism: We have to grapple with much larger frameworks

One of the major innovations of Onto-Cartography is the introduction of incorporeal machines.  While incorporeal machines were already implicit in my treatment of Luhmann in The Democracy of Objects, I wanted to make this more explicit in Onto-Cartography so as to account for how a machine-oriented ontology might think about signs, discourses, narratives, etc.  I draw the concept of incorporeal machines from Deleuze and Guattari’s account of expression and content in “The Geology of Morals” and ”Postulates of Linguistic” chapters of A Thousand Plateaus (they also discuss it in Kafka, and Deleuze uses it to organize his reading of Foucault in Foucault).  Drawn from Hjelmslev’s glossematics, but significantly reworked to articulate a general, ontological schema, Deleuze and Guattari are careful to argue that the planes of content and expression are independentautonomous, and heterogeneous, functioning according to different principles.  In other words, content cannot be equated with the “signified” and expression with the “signifier”.  Both signifier and signified are variants of expression.  They don’t belong to the plane of content at all.
Under Deleuze and Guattari’s account, the plane of content is composed entirely of bodies– what I call corporeal machines –affecting and being affected by one another.  The relationship of a smith to his hammer and anvil, for example, belong to the plane of content.  The way in which the interaction of these three machines affect one another differs from the way in which signifiers affect bodies.  The perpetual hammering on the metal of the anvil produces corporeal changes in the smith’s body.  His muscle structure, bone structure, and way of holding himself change over time.  This is not the result of expression or signs… Part of the aim of onto-cartography is to map these complex relations, to draw virtual maps of potential alternatives to existing assemblages, and to trace the imbrications of these planes in social systems.

Speculative Realism + Potential  - by Paul J. Ennis WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2012
The charge of correlationism is one that will surely be addressed more and more; even if it is done with a wave of the hand. But on the fringe speculative realism remains. However, what I now see happening, just a little, is that speculative realists no longer need to justify themselves in the base sense. They are less defensive and the forthcoming work I have been lucky enough to read, usually in my capacity with Zero, displays a confidence that is different than what came before.

Wilber and Aurobindo: A reply to Joe Perez, Alan Kazlev [M. Alan Kazlev - - For Integral World he has written two series of essays on integral philosophy: Towards a Larger View of Integral (4 Parts) and Integral Esotericism (8 Parts).]
In keeping with academic convention, I use surname as mode of address in this essay – e.g. “Wilber”, “Perez”. I make an exception with “Sri Aurobindo” because that is the name he requested to be addressed as (as opposed to just “Aurobindo”)… It is true that Wilber established the current Integral movement, lifting the word from Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser, who each independently defined it… It is true that Wilber identifies higher levels of consciousness beyond Turquoise/Integral, and that he associates them with Sri Aurobindo's ascending ladder of realisation as described by the latter in The Life Divine. However, Wilber's interpretation of Sri Aurobindo here and elsewhere is deeply flawed, as Brant Cortright (Psychotherapy and Spirit: Theory and Practice in Transpersonal Psychotherapy, SUNY 1997, p78), Rod Hemsell ("Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective") and I (“Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo” - and “An Aurobindonian vision”) have all shown… In “An Aurobindonian vision” I have also shown how Wilber's spiritual stages are actually based on those of his former guru Adi Da. Because he simplistically considers all spiritual states part of the same linear series, he claims in his tables correlating different systems (see The Atman Project and Integral Psychology) that Da's “Seventh Stage” and Sri Aurobindo's “Supermind” are the same…
But the unfortunate fact remains that the whole Aurobindonian tradition has been and is being seriously misinterpreted – I don't think bastardised is too strong a word - by well-meaning but ignorant advocates of Integralism, attempting to remold Sri Aurobindo's teachings as a simplistic metaphysical precursor to AQAL.
There can be little doubt that the root of this problem lies with Wilber's own misunderstanding of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual philosophy. As Rod Hemsell has shown, this is apparent even in the earlier phases of his work (Atman Project – Wilber II). Wilber himself is certainly not to be blamed for this, as there is so much knowledge in the world today that it is simply not possible for one human being, no matter how intelligent or how competent a speed reader, to understand the whole world (see “Insufficient Study and Contemplation results in Superficial Understanding of Specialized Knowledge”). And to properly understand Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's Yoga requires tremendous sincerity and aspiration, not just a brief skim reading. The reading itself has to be a meditation, the pages returned to time after time. Just as with any authentic spiritual tradition.
Wilber's error here was then compounded through the memetic (sensu Dawkins) dispersal of his well-meaning misinterpretations, through his own work and that of others who have been influenced by him. As a result, more people are adopting a false version of what Sri Aurobindo taught and achieved. That he is, so Wilber informs us, a “theorist” (someone who spent forty years in intense practical yoga was a theorist?).  

As with all human understanding, humanity has approached the law of karma from our own very limited starting point. We try to essentially bring it down to a personal level and create some kind of ethical rulebook around its operation, or else relate the universal forces to us through some kind of inexorable process that appears to function under certain laws or rules, but directly interacts with our own lives and the decisions we make and the actions we take.
The Buddhist enunciation of the universal law of karma was clearly a breakthrough in terms of treating it as a universal action. In the West, the widening understanding of the vast scope and intelligent activity of the universe has systematically broadened our appreciation for the action of the Forces that are shaping the entire universal action, including, but certainly not limited to our individual lives.
Essentially we are coming to a point in time where we begin to understand that the Creation does not revolve around our own world or our own individuality, and that while we have our role to play, and our own unique value, it is with much larger frameworks and universal laws that we have to grapple to truly begin to understand. Thus, the law of karma includes our own actions, but not as some kind of directed ethical or moral reward or retribution, but as an instance of the universal laws of action, the patterns of energy.
This turns into a much less simplistic model than most of us have entertained to date, and Sri Aurobindo takes up the question with the view toward systematically reviewing it from all angles and aspects to provide a comprehensive basis for understanding. Because we tend to look at things first from the basis of the material world and material energy, we may want to start this review at the point where our vision naturally first engages the issue:
“It may be as well then to start from the physical base in approaching this question of Karma, though we may find at last that it is from the other end of being, from its spiritual summit rather than its material support that we must look in order to catch its whole significance–and to fix also the limits of its significance.” Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 8, Karma, pp. 68-69

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