February 23, 2013

Elst errs

Sri Aurobindo Society: Meeting on 'The yoga of Savitri reading,' 3 Lajapathi Roy Road, Chinna Chokkikulam, 4 p.m.

As the mental force begins to make itself felt and tries to develop a law or rule of life, it starts out with the demands, needs, desires and fears of the dynamic life force as the primary controlling factor with which it has to grapple. Rather than being able to impose, therefore, a reasoned moral and ethical code, it resorts to attempts to modify and upgrade the vital impetus through offering a system of rewards and punishments, a “carrot and a stick”, for following the basic lines set forth in the moral doctrines. On close examination it can be seen that even the goals set forth at this point are mostly driven by the vital drive for success, achievement and prosperity and the fear of loss, suffering and pain.
It is thus at this point that the most common ideas about the law of Karma appear and take center stage. The moral principle, the ethical ideal is tied to the concept that the “good” will achieve worldly success; or if not worldly success, then at least a success in a life hereafter. The influence of the vital power is clearly seen in the fact that “right” has to be tied to “success” in order to be something to be attempted.

While on the subject of I, AM, and the link between the two, I'd like to discuss Scruton's The Face of God. It's a short book, containing the published version of his Gifford Lectures of 2010.
If you're not familiar with them, the Gifford Lectures were the brainchild of the Scottish Lord Gifford (1820-1887), established and endowed for the purpose of promoting and propagating "the study of natural theology in the widest sense of the term -- in other words, the knowledge of God." The quality of these lectures is often quite high, and draws big brains from many disciplines, and thus comports well with our own multi-undisciplinary approach.
Among others, I've read those by Royce, Gilson, James, Eddington, Heisenberg, Dawson, Toynbee, Barbour, Dyson, Eccles, Polkinghorne, Rolston, Taylor, and, of course Jaki, Polanyi and Whitehead, all of whom are recurring characters on the One Cosmos blog. Again, these are folks who are attempting to think across disciplines, so many of them are pione'er-do-well Raccoons.

Yoga and Hinduism from Centre Right India by Koenraad Elst
I am currently finishing a booklet for the greater public on the external enemies of Hinduism. It will make me very popular among Hindus. But next, I want to write a similar booklet about the internal enemies of Hinduism, or is other words: what is wrong with the Hindus so that e.g. they cannot settle the Kashmir dispute or the constitutional/legal discrimination of the Hindus in spite of being a democratic majority? This should make me a few friends among the secularists, but I think the enmity on that side in already too entrenched; but it will certainly make me many enemies among Hindus. They don’t like a Westerner criticizing them, though I have most of these criticisms from Hindus themselves. At any rate, if Hindus don’t make a systematic diagnosis of the problem, someone else has to do it. And the current (sentimental and confused) Hindu bhakti notion of “God” is certainly a big part of the problem.

Macaulay's children & the rest - Gautam Adhikari TOI - 22 February 2013,
Enter Mamata Banerjee. And Narendra Modi. And Mulayam Singh Yadav. In short, all those political players who proudly display an almost Macaulay-like disdain towards Indians who use English as their main language of communication. And they are confident, to the point of arrogance in many cases, in adopting styles of political, social and cultural behaviour that is alien to Macaulay`s cherished western norms and practice… So, here`s a question: As democracy deepens, must we in fact expect an onset of decline in the very republican norms embedded in the Constitution that upholds the idea of India? 

It seems to me that Hobbes’s critique of the RCC is essentially that it undermines the sovereignty of individual nations without having the strength to form a larger over-arching sovereignty of its own (the latter part being more implicit in his argument) — so in essence, it simply sows the seeds of discord and division by muddying the waters of whether Catholics should be loyal to their local sovereign or the pope. I wonder if Hobbes might view the European Union, and particularly the Monetary Union, in a similar light. To become part of the EU and especially the Eurozone, nations must give up sovereignty over their currency, which is one of the most important tools for managing a modern economy, and they are also significantly constrained in their fiscal policy. Even worse, the measures dictated are often very unpopular with local populations, prompting protest and perhaps eventually revolt. Yet the EU itself has even less popular legitimacy than local governments, and its own ability to project power is very limited… Hence it seems to me that Hobbes’s hypothetical diagnosis has a lot of truth to it. 

The very young Marx from Love of All Wisdom by Amod Lele - Feb 18, 2013
Because throughout his life, Marx was, in a word, a materialist. Not in the modern pejorative sense (“he who dies with the most toys wins”) nor the negative philosophical sense, in which ideas and mind are treated as somehow unreal. Rather, for Marx it was always the case that matter matters. The physical world sets the terms on which we human beings can exist, and so to understand human life both as it is and as it should be, we must understand that physical world. Marx lived at a time when the modern scientific revolution was hitting full steam (and that is not only a metaphor). The discoveries of Charles Darwin, above all, were an inspiration to Marx’s inspiration. Friedrich Engels said at Marx’s funeral that Marx had done for human history what Darwin had done for organic nature. For it was Darwin who made it intellectually feasible to explain the biological world without reference to a god. The gods are just as distant in Epicurus’s explanations; he can look like a precursor of Darwin. And so it was to Epicurus that Marx turned as an inspiration for his still-developing atheist Hegelianism. 

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