Friday, October 28, 2011

Wilber's Aurobindianism

For The Turnstiles by DGA on Oct 27, 2011 8:10 PM

To draw some threads together: Suppose it is true that the argument of Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality is predicated on positions taken by Nagarjuna, Plotinus, Schelling (and by extension Hegel), and Aurobindo. Also suppose that it is this argument that predicates most of the theoretical work in integral studies that follows after it. Problems accumulate.

There are problems in the way Wilber advances his claims on Nagarjuna. Specifically, Nagarjuna's description of emptiness in no way coincided with Wilber's, where Emptiness is reified into Spirit and made to equate with the metaphysics of Meister Eckhardt. Raphael Foshay's essay "Tension on the Left" in a recent JITP addresses this in part as well, as do my essays in The Integral Review. At a minimum, this warrants a detailed and uncompromising comparative analysis of Wilber's appropriation and deployment of Nagarjuna's methodology.

There are problems in the way Wilber describes Plotinus' philosophy. Brian Hines' essay "What Wilber Gets Wrong about Plotinus" is convincing enough, to my mind, that a similar detailed and uncompromising reconsideration of Wilber's use of Plotinus in the context of the rest of his work is warranted.

There are problems with the way Wilber deploys German Idealist historicism. This is the topic of all three of my contributions to The Integral Review. My point is not that Wilber misunderstands Schelling or Hegel (he may or may not, I do not have a pony in that race). My point is that this kind of idealist historicism is untenable logically and reproduces the social relations that produced it (e.g., it is a cipher for imperial capitalism). I think this warrants a similar reconsideration of Wilberian natural history and cultural history.

Charles I. Flores' essay on Aurobindo demonstrates related problems with Wilber's appropriation and use of that writer, strong enough in my opinion to open an investigation into the validity of Wilber's Aurobindianism.

In all four cases, care must be taken to consider how these doctrines are used in the broader context of Wilber's argument. This is a genealogical analysis I am proposing: what are the consequences of disproving this or that premise? What happens to subsequent claims that, before, had followed from that premise?

This is separate from the broader question of the reason behind Wilber's arguments, which are also very suspicious to my mind and to others. My point is that if Wilber's premises are faulty, then his broader systematic claims are definitely subject to critique as described above (and should have been since Jeff Meyerhoff's book or before).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Four Theses of Flat Ontology

The Democracy of Objects
Levi R. Bryant
List of Figures and Tables
Introduction: Towards a Finally Subjectless Object
1. Grounds For a Realist Ontology
1.1. The Death of Ontology and the Rise of Correlationism
1.2. Breaking the Correlationist Circle
1.3. The Onto-Transcendental Grounds of Experimental Activity
1.4. Objections and Replies
1.5. Origins of Correlationism: Actualism and the Epistemic Fallacy
1.6. On the Alleged Primacy of Perception
2. The Paradox of Substance
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Aristotle, Substance, and Qualities
2.3. The Paradox of Substance
3. Virtual Proper Being
3.1. The Mug Blues
3.2. Deleuze's Schizophrenia: Between Monism and Pluralism
3.3. Virtual Proper Being
3.4. The Problem With Rabbits and Hats
3.5. Žižek's Objecting Objects
4. The Interior of Objects
4.1. The Closure of Objects
4.2. Interactions Between Objects
4.3. Autopoietic and Allopoietic Objects
4.4. Translation
4.5. Autopoietic Asphyxiation: The Case of the Lacanian Clinic
5. Regimes of Attraction, Parts, and Structure
5.1. Constraints
5.2. Parts and Wholes: The Strange Mereology of Object-Oriented Ontology
5.3. Temporalized Structure and Entropy
6. The Four Theses of Flat Ontology
6.1. Two Ontological Discourses: Lacan's Graphs of Sexuation and Two Ways of Thinking Being
6.2. The World Does Not Exist
6.3. Being is Flat
Published by: Open Humanities Press, 2011
Hosted by MPublishing, a division of the University of Michigan Library.
For more information please contact

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Life Divine is the culminating point of the Indian mind

Home > E-Library > Magazines > Sraddha > November 2009 > Contents
The Dharma of The Gita Sri Aurobindo 7
Sri Aurobindo Arabinda Basu 10
Veda Vyasa’s  Mahabharata  in
Sri Aurobindo’s  Savitri Prema Nanda Kumar 25
Sri Aurobindo and Vedic Riks Dr Sampadananda Mishra 39
The Path of Nachiketa: The journey Alok Pandey 47
Sri Aurobindo’s  The Life Divine:
The Immortal Text On The Divine Truth R.C. Pradhan 54
Sri Aurobindo and Uttarpara Speech Trija Roy 69
The Mother Abides Nolini Kanta Gupta 89
A Canadian Question 92
Twin Prayers 95
November 17, 1973 97
Integrality Matthijs Cornelissen 98
Practices in Integral Yoga Larry Seidlitz 111
Spiritual Knowledge Martha G Orton 121
Sri Aurobindo and the Hindu Muslim Problem Kittu Reddy 134
The Theme Of Urvashi In
The Indian Renaissance:
Madhusudan Datta,
Rabindranath Tagore , Sri Aurobindo Ranajit Sarkar 141
The National Value of Art Pabitra Kumar Roy 159
Cover Design : Dhanavanti’s painting ‘Rainbow rhythm’
Space permitting, there is also a proposal to reproduce some of the ‘golden oldies’, essays of extraordinary depth and insight written by authors of eminence, most of whom are no more living. These priceless treasures secreted in the ageold vaults of the Advent, Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, Mother India, Srinvantu, Sri Aurobindo Circle, etc. need to be dug out and their authentic and authoritative views made known to a wider audience, especially among readers of this generation and those who wish to make a serious study of Sri Aurobindo. [Recent developments in analytic philosophyLanguage and Mind, Vol. 1: A Western Perspective (Kant, Fodor, Searle, Kripke)]

Sri Aurobindo’s  The Life Divine : The Immortal Text On The Divine Truth
R.C. Pradhan
Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine represents the spirit of man in ascending the higher realms of the divine Truth. It is a text of the immortal voice of man aspiring for the highest Truth realisable in human life. If the Upanishads laid the foundations of the immortal life on earth and the Gita propounded the Karmayoga to effectively make it a part of the worldly life, The Life Divine further established the transforming power of the Supermind to make the earth its home. It has fulfilled the prophetic vision of the Upanishads and the Gita in concretising the immortal Truth of the Divine Reality on the rugged surface of the earthly life surrounded by darkness. The Life Divine is the culminating point of the Indian mind in its evolutionary history from the primitive to the most enlightened forms of spiritual realisation.
What I will do in this essay is not to summarise the vast knowledge unfolded in the text, but to throw hints as to how one could wade through the labyrinth of the divine drama created and enacted in Sri Aurobindo’s immortal text. Mine will not be a textual reading but an interpretation of the most important concepts dealt with in the text.

The National Value of Art
Pabitra Kumar Roy
Man, for Sri Aurobindo, is always the traveller of the cycles of society and his road is forward. This thesis holds no less in the domain of man’s aesthetic adventures. As elsewhere, he gathers in his material from the minds and lives of his fellow-men around him and makes the most of the experience of humanity’s past ages, and does not confine himself in a narrow mentality. The dialectic of individual and humanity is a characteristic of the logic of the evolutionary process. At one pole of man’s being, he is a variation of human individual, and yet belonging to his race and class types. He has his svadharma, according to which man resembles some, and differs from others. Society is formed on the ground of human affinity. Social affinity enriches the individuals, and his enrichment, in turn, enriches the society. For Sri Aurobindo, in modern times, society is the nation. By enriching the national life, the individual helps the total life of humanity. But it should not be understood that he holds that one’s nationality is one’s exhaustive identity. Rather, “if by a part of himself he belongs to the nation, by another he exceeds it and belongs to humanity.” 1 (HC, p. 81). 
Man’s societal self-limitation and subjection to his environment and group is hardly the last credential of a man’s existence. He shares something of the infinity, complexity and free variation of the Self manifested in the world, and thus has a necessary tendency of expansion and transcendence of his environmental affinities. The individual lives in humanity as well as humanity in the individual. The point is that nation is a temporary necessity. This view of nation and nationality we have to keep in view when we discuss Sri Aurobindo’s ideas concerning the national value of art. [Beauty Art and ManDavid Hume;: A critical introduction to his theory of knowledge]

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Univerisity of the Integral Yoga: Integral Library

Sri Aurobindo and Mother left us a huge gift of knowledge about the practice of yoga, the device of the universe and human psychology. On this blog we will regularly put the words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, help us to understand increasingly the work performed by them on the ground and how we ourselves can contribute to its development.
Human existence contains a set of planes of being: physical, vital, mental, and others that can be accessed at the present time we have is limited. We plan to create multiple partitions on a blog, each of which will gradually reveal the details of each of the levels of our being, and use this knowledge in everyday life.
About our center
There are different centers, each of which expresses and presents some ideas and deeds. Our center - a center of striving towards the Divine and the possibility of realization of God in the phenomenal world.
No and no rigid concept of the center, which is essentially a dynamic implementation. As we move along the path, there will be corresponding changes in the center. This center is not only a virtual phenomenon. He should and will be embodied physically in order to provide an opportunity for live communication and exchange of experience.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, what is their teaching that they brought the earth and mankind, what is their job? We will try together to find answers to these questions. What the seeker, the soul is awakened when he heard the call of God, but the mind does not know where to start and what to do when the usual boundaries of society begin to compress the chest and cover your breath? Perhaps this project could partly solve these problems.We do not pretend to much, we just try to do your job well and be faithful to the call of his soul.
There are people who are in search of something elusive, searching for the truth of his soul. Perhaps they will find here the sound to a note that always sounds inside.
We are not a closed society and we are sincerely glad to help anyone who wants to help in the development of our center. This is not an easy job in which there is no rapid progress, and every achievement requires more effort. According to Sri Aurobindo, we can not find any authority other than on himself. Stepping on this path, we must be prepared to give everything, but only Allah and none else. Requires full commitment. His mother says that if a person does not sincere in their aspirations and these words are not in tune with him, he should not undertake this yoga - it's a flame that burns.
No seclusion can not move forward in this yoga far enough. Over time, there comes a time when it is necessary to take the next step, and if it is not done, will move in a circle, and progress will stop. No individual progress is impossible without a collective component, repeatedly talked about Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. We sincerely hope that the collective component finds its rightful place here and help us all make a few more steps on the path of ascent to the divine.
Hi friends! Today we are publishing one of Sri Aurobindo major works “The Human Cycle” which includes in itself three titles: “The Human Cycle” itself, “The Ideal of Human Unity” and “War and Self-Determination”. I hope you will enjoy this … Continue reading  Posted in ePubIntegral Yoga1 Comment
Hi friends! Today we are publishing one of Sri Aurobindo major works and this one is particularily dear and presious to my heart, it is: “The Synthesis of Yoga”. This book in great detail shows human psychology and possibility of … Continue reading  Posted in ePubIntegral Yoga1 Comment
Hi folks! Today we are publishing a unique collection of Sri Aurobindo’s letters to his wife which gives us a rare opportunity to peek in to the past of our Master, his early years of private life which reveals us … Continue reading  Posted in ePubIntegral YogaLeave a comment

One of the pleasures of reading Sri Aurobindo’s works is that such contradictions do not exist because he resolves every contradiction by tracing it to its Divine origin and reconciling it as part of a larger Truth.   He explicates how every principle has it’s play in a certain context but if we over-generalize, then it loses its value. […]
What can we glean from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the Nature versus Nurture debate?  We are given the understanding that nature and nurture can be reconciled in the greater spiritual truth, that there is an soul within Man evolving towards Divinity.  This soul persists across incarnations, puts forth its own distinct personality in every life and is also influenced by the genetic makeup of the parents as well as by the prevailing Zeitgeist. […]
Intelligent Design raises valid questions about abiogenesis (i.e. how life arises out from inorganic matter) and speciation (i.e. how do new species arise) but is unable to satisfactorily answer them with a suitable teleology, other than to posit the existence of an extra-cosmic entity which must be managing the Universe.
On the other hand, Neo-Darwinism only examines the superficial evolution of forms, and remains unaware of the greater aeonic evolution of souls as they are reborn in progressively more complex forms, (plant, animal and human) as determined by the evolution of soul consciousness.
We present the synthesis of the above ideas as discovered in the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.  Speciation is explained by the fact that consciousness precedes form in evolution [12]. Consciousness precedes form in evolution

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sri Aurobindo scores over Whitehead

Joy of being: All about life The Hindu August 18, 2011 R. DINESH
Though I had been brought up exposed to Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, I actually re-discovered his teachings in his writings, “Essays on the Gita’’ and translation of the Upanishads. Initially, they were hard to understand, but soon I realized that once the essential Truth is understood, every word makes sense and can be experienced and related to every situation of our life, both in thoughts and actions. 
The Upanishads, 1st US Edition by Aurobindo Ghose Words of a Master, October 14, 2010 Amazon Review Written by John Pellicci (Palm Beach Gardens, United States)
There are few who can compare with Sri Aurobindo Ghose. His erudition is only surpassed by his realization. A wordsmith of the highest order, who can bring to light and clarity the often confusing and veiled jargon of the ancient Rishis. His commentaries on the Upanishads opens vistas of thought that allow the earnest and informed seeker the opportunity to sit at the feet of a modern master-sage. Comment | Permalink
We get a lot of lectures about Whitehead explaining Whitehead to us, but I think this misses the point that our differences with Whitehead are not failures to understand him (cf. my post on transference), but because of genuine disagreements with Whitehead. For me, there are three basic points of divergence. First, I believe that Whitehead is a complete non-starter so long as his account of God is not severed from his thought and his thought isn’t thoroughly severed from process theology. Following Donald Sherburne, I think that Whitehead’s account of God is incoherent and at odds with the ontological foundations of his own philosophy. Any engagement of Whitehead that doesn’t sever it from his concept of God and substantially modify his ontology is, I believe, a priori to be excluded. …
Am I a process philosopher? Sure. I argue that objects are processes and processes are objects. Yet all of my work is focused on the precise nature of what processes are and how relations come to be forged. Above all, I’m interested in how relations can be broken so that we might be able to form a more just and equitable society than the one we find ourselves in today.
Shaviro on The Prince and the Wolf from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman) HERE. …
Like many other readers of Whitehead, I find that Steven is projecting a dynamism into his instants that is there in only the feeblest sense, and is perhaps over-reacting to the connotations of the word “process.” I find this to be especially the case among readers of Whitehead who are inspired by Deleuze. But there’s simply no comparison between the two thinkers, however much people want there to be. In all the important senses they are polar opposites, for the same reason that Whitehead and Bergson are polar opposites. 11:09 PM
Bogost on firehose materialism from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harham)
Ian now responds to Steven Shaviro, HERE. My favorite part of Ian’s post is probably the final sentence:
“…the fundamental dispute between OOO and process philosophy is a legitimate philosophical disagreement, not just a failure to communicate or understand.”
Levi made roughly the same point in his own post. The problem cannot be reduced to claiming that one side is misunderstanding Whitehead. No, there’s an actual philosophical disagreement at work. Incidentally, I should also add that Steven’s posts are always welcome, since they stay on topic.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So much hinges upon the avoidance of confusion and error

sam mickey | July 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm
I’m thinking of four anthologies released in the last few years that bring Whitehead into philosophical and theological dialogue with Badiou, Derrida, Deleuze, and others. Process and Difference (Daniell and Keller), Secrets of Becoming (Faber and Stephenson), Deleuze, Whitehead, Bergson (Robinson), and Event and Decision (Faber, Krips, and Petus). …
If you’re interested in postsecular theology that addresses the challenges of our current historical moment, check out Clayton Crockett’s new book (if you haven’t already), Radical Political Theology. No Whitehead (although he does mention a little process theology, particularly Catherine Keller, perhaps the greatest process theologian), but there are plenty of helpful resources for understanding atheism and nihilism in their contemporary contexts.
Matthew David Segall | July 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm Glad you stopped by, Sam.
When I argue against metaphysical atheism in recent posts, I’m not thinking of the sort of “atheism in the name of God” that Alan Watts used to talk about. The “atheism” of the later group of thinkers you mention (Haraway, Derrida, etc.) is unlike the type that Bryant is arguing for in his responses to me. He seems to suggest that naturalism has made the “God hypothesis” (not the way I’d want to construe theological speculation) irrelevant, which is surprising to me since I didn’t think an OOO philosopher would try to lean on scientific materialism/naturalism to marginalize religion. He doesn’t seem to have read his Whitehead, or my posts on Whitehead in response, since he keeps accusing me of employing the concept of a transcendent “God” to explain natural processes when I’ve explicitly criticized such concepts. God is not a hypothesis meant to explain the universe, anymore than “matter” could be conceived of as such.
Speculative philosophy must hold the binary (God/no-God) together to form a coherent image of the universe. The question is not: “does God exist?” but “what is the universe such that God does and does not exist?” Theism makes no sense without the possibility of atheism, and vice versa: they are interdependent, sometimes parasitic, sometimes symbiotic modes of thought.
Philosophy is the attempt to understand the most basic facts about the world we inhabit and so far as possible to explain these facts. This enterprise is not the exclusive concern of certain specialists, but one in which every human being is deeply involved, whether or not he is clearly conscious of it.
Every way of life is based upon a way of looking at life. The way you look at life is your philosophy. Just as there are many ways of life, so are there many philosophies, some more true and some less true. So important is this basic enterprise of man, so much hinges upon the avoidance of confusion and error, that since the time of the ancient Greeks a certain discipline has been set aside for the concentrated consideration of philosophical problems and for the careful comparison and criticism of different ways of answering them. This discipline is called philosophy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Husserl’s endless reductions, Heidegger’s endless preparations, Whitehead and Bergson are polar opposites

Shaviro on The Prince and the Wolf from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
HERE. Unsurprisingly, Steven sides with the Latour/Whitehead relationism against my critiques of that position. But it’s a well-written and thoughtful response to the book, also unsurprisingly. […]
As for Whitehead, I’m not sure I know what Steven means when he says the eternal objects are there as a source of novelty rather than a source of connection. The point is, prehension is always mediated by the eternal objects, and the eternal objects are in God. It’s hard to be more of an occasionalist than to say that God is the mediator of all relations and that entities exist only as occasions. It’s textbook occasionalism, in fact. Like many other readers of Whitehead, I find that Steven is projecting a dynamism into his instants that is there in only the feeblest sense, and is perhaps over-reacting to the connotations of the word “process.” I find this to be especially the case among readers of Whitehead who are inspired by Deleuze. But there’s simply no comparison between the two thinkers, however much people want there to be. In all the important senses they are polar opposites, for the same reason that Whitehead and Bergson are polar opposites.
This occurs often with political theory as well. Endless preparations to get things just right without jumping into the fray. This is the issue I have with epistemology: Kantianism, Husserl’s endless phenomenological reductions, Heidegger’s endless preparations to pose the question of the meaning of being (he argues that there has to be all sorts of preliminary work before the question itself can even be posed!), the epistemological debates of the 17th century, and yes, the endless refinements of critique among the critical theorists. Lacan liked to say that obsessional desire is the desire for an impossible desire. As a structure– i.e., something about a particular form of life, not an individual –obsessional desire sustains its desire by perpetually deferring the object of its desire, and it defers its object of desire by rendering that desire impossible. Critique, in my view, often functions in this way. 

Monday, August 08, 2011

Are philosophers obliged to favor a Godless system?

philosophical obligations from plastic bodies by plasticbodies
Leon has linked to an article which explores the question: is God necessary for Whitehead’s system? This raises the question: say you are presented with two metaphysical systems identical save for the fact that one includes God and the other omits God. Are we as philosophers obliged to favor the Godless system?
Whitehead and Catholicism Monday, August 8, 2011
Is God indispensable to Whitehead's metaphysics? The following article attempts to answer that question (pp. 666-669) as well as clarify Whitehead's relationship to Catholicism.

Re: The Parable of Two Birds by Sandeep on Tue 05 Jul 2011 10:49 PM IST |  Profile |  Permanent Link
It is essential to have a holistic perspective of the full spectrum of topics such as Creation, Evolution, Reincarnation, Karma in order to arrive at the right answer to these questions.

Ludwig von Mises said that the Science of Human Action is all about "means and ends." Now, this choosing of means towards ends is firstly a Moral Question - and Adam Smith was a Professor of Moral Philosophy, for there were no "economists" then. Adam Smith therefore encouraged our "natural propensity to truck, barter and exchange," and proposed a System of Natural Liberty as a Moral Solution to Life.
But Socialists have done otherwise, and have encouraged Aggression - which even Sigmund Freud told us to "sublimate" - through their System of Legal Plunder. Now, Ludwig von Mises said that, whereas the choice between means and ends is directed at short term goals, there are what he called "ultimate ends," and Mises said that the choice of ultimate ends are "a matter of the soul and the will." 

One theory is that government exists to correct externalities and provide public goods. The other is that government uses the language of helping people to justify giving stuff to the politically powerful out of the pockets of the rest of us.]

“To recover Tagore today as a poet and writer must entail some sense of the Bengali language becoming a realm of literary possibility….”
AL: This seems to be akin in some ways to trying to recover Sri Aurobindo’s Guru English that he expresses in Edwardian prose and Romantic poetry to restore contemporary relevance. The project requires both a refolding of language and the modernist aesthetic.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Husserl, Heidegger, Whitehead, & Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo points out that some may hold that “the spirit which now presides over the human soul-experience was originally formed by a human mentality ...
In sum, it does not seem that, even on Thill’s view as developed here, common sense qua common sense carries any epistemological weight beyond mere plausibility. There is some “extra-commonsensical” criterion or criteria according to which common sense may be judged infallible or not. Once we hear what that is, we can debate whether it is correct that this criterion allows us to declare certain beliefs infallible. Regardless: according to this quote here, certain kinds of common sense are proposed to be infallible; but it is not and cannot be the fact of their being common sense that makes them so.
When Derrida was king (and keep in mind, I did not like that period) this accusation could not be made. Derrida knew Husserl and Heidegger and Levinas extremely well, and was very much digesting all of it and doing something new with it. You could disagree with his personal spin on it (I did) and also find his style often worse than exasperating (I did). But there was never any question that Derrida was deeply rooted in the phenomenological tradition, which –like it or not– is still the gold standard for recent continental philosophy. The situation became more problematic on this front after Derrida’s star began to dim somewhat.
Deleuze takes off in a completely different direction, and a very refreshing direction in many respects. But he never really came to terms with the Husserl/Heidegger legacy, and the passing remarks on phenomenology are among his most impressionistic and shallow.
With Badiou and Žižek it’s a bit more complicated. They do full justice to Heidegger in terms of praising him, talking about how great and important he was, and so forth. But he leaves too little trace on their own philosophical positions, which are basically Hegelian and Lacanian and have little direct resonance with Heidegger. As for Husserl (despite Badiou’s claims to understand him well) they don’t get the point at all, though in this respect they’re no worse than most others at present.
At the top of my wish list for continental philosophy in 2030 … is that we need to get back on the Husserl/Heidegger page again and push things further, not simply pretend without proof that they are vaguely archaic figures. You have to work your way through figures of that magnitude, and at least Derrida was trying.
The Battle For Eyeballs: Take #2 from ANTIDOTE - Jul 30, 2011 Second, all of you must read Paul Johnson's excellent book titled Intellectuals.
In this excellent book, Johnson has compiled brief biographies of many, … who wrote completely stupid books on how "society" could be better "organised" - and all their stupid books led the world astray. There is Rousseau, Marx, Sartre and more. 
My first book, published in 2000, Antidote: Essays AGAINST The Socialist Indian State, contains an essay on money, sub-titled "Why private money is the only sound money" - but my thoughts have developed far beyond that essay written so long ago, thanks especially to my study of the works of Ludwig von Mises. My best so far is the one in my 2007 book Natural Order: Essays Exploring Civil Government & The Rule of Law, which reflects the study of the works of Jesus Huerta de Soto, and this essay can be read online by scrolling down the right-hand bar.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Understanding plurality and underlying relationships

Philosophy aims at understanding the plurality and their underlying relationships. But the puzzle remains unresolved after thousands of years and people begin all over again after every few decades. The basic difficulty, however, is to translate the multiplicity in terms of the essential unity. Performing this, obviously, is an absurd demand but man never tires of attempting to accomplish it empirically. 

For professors drawing salaries from secular universities a peculiar paradox is at play. Like Kant and Hegel in their time or Levi and Harman today, they carry the burden of manufacturing metaphysics sans any Divine contagion. Further, they are at pains to give the impression that their output emanates from their free thinking, whereas, in actuality, it is geographically-challenged and paradigm-driven. Camouflaging dishonesty in sophisticated verbiage is the most debilitating tendency that afflicts most sincere-seeming quest for knowledge today.

Philosophy, to be true to its task, must free itself from preconditions and prejudices. As science and technology progresses and human beings undergo ever increasing perplexity to keep abreast as well as making sense, philosophy will continue to be a source of solace. 20th century has grappled with enough of uncertainties; let the 21st be the era of assurance. Over to Savitri Era. [TNM] 8:39 PM Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sri Aurobindo is yet to receive the recognition and respect he deserves and demolishing Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition is our prime task. The story of his life and the writings he has left behind constitute a fount of inspiration for generations to come and disseminating those across the globe is a gigantic challenge. The occult significance of the work of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is exceedingly complex and hence to fathom it is beyond the scope of individuals engaged in routine life. Most are, therefore, happy with their own understanding of things and hardly feel the necessity of being acquainted with the teachings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. Mind boggling multiplicity of New Age offerings and their aggressive marketing is another major cause of our ware being marginalized.

That the philosophy, psychology, politics, & poetry of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo are the sole and supreme avenue of man’s emancipation is no hyperbole. No human being living at present has the capacity to scrutinize them as regards their efficacy. It is only through a ceaseless yearning for their servitude that we earn the fortunateness of partaking an iota of their grace.   

This in the secular-academic domain, paradoxically, poses a grave methodological problem. The transmission of the teachings of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo is largely academic in nature. Their interdisciplinary implications rather fall mostly at the postgraduate level or above while the ritualistic dimensions are only a miniscule. Applying the theory concurrently in one’s day to day life is also part of the learning process. The three aspects form such an integral whole that the unique subjective nature of the ongoing and ever changing concoction tends to defy any sort of syllabi or evaluation. With communication modalities morphing multifariously, molding our worn out teaching techniques and modulating them to the signals of the future, therefore, is a priority. [TNM] 8:04 PM Monday, July 05, 2010 Links

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Francis Bacon is McLuhan’s key partner

Marshall McLuhan from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
Philip Marchand helps us celebrate with AN ARTICLE posted at Laureano Ralon’s Figure-Ground Commmunications blog. Individual reasons for celebrating McLuhan may differ. If asked to summarize my own reasons for liking him, I’d respond roughly as follows:
1. He has a tremendous sense of how the background conditions for any statement or appearance are more powerful than the statement or appearance itself. In this respect he can be paired with Heidegger’s critique of presence-at-hand, which I happen to think was the single most important insight to come out of 20th century philosophy.
2. Unlike Heidegger, McLuhan has a very detailed sense of how background and surface can trigger each other and reverse or flip into each other. This is why he isn’t a “technological determinist.” It lies within your power, individual human, to create something really remarkable that transforms the medium in which humans work in any specific area. (Example: It may have been true that academic illusionist painting was in trouble in 1905, but it was by no means “determined” what Braque and Picasso had to do next. Things could have gone in a number of different directions at that point. The individual is in fact extremely powerful in McLuhan’s vision.)
3. Formal causation as more important than efficient causation. I’ll save these remarks for my talk in Brussels. But Francis Bacon is McLuhan’s key partner here, and if you don’t like Bacon– you will. (For starters, go early into the second half of the Novum Organum and look for a long list headed something like “Instances Agreeing in the Nature of Heat,” in which Bacon tries to sum up a list of all warm and hot things in the world. It’s hilarious, remarkable, and has a fascinating metaphysics of formal cause underlying it.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reality and causal efficacy are two separate things

a couple of live debates within OOO from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
Some reader mail just reminded me of this. I should make up a list of all the points about which there aredisagreements within OOO circles. We haven’t gotten around to clearly articulating all of our differences yet.
Since I’ve had the most such email debates with Levi Bryant as compared with the other OOO-related authors, here are the two issues about which Levi and I tend most to disagree:
1. Levi’s a fan of dynamic conceptions of entities, which may well reflect his Deleuzean origins. By contrast, I am a committed actualist (like Latour, or at least the early Latour). A thing is only what it is right now, and to explain how changes occur is a tricky thing, not one that should be implanted in the heart of objects from the start.
2. Levi tends to hold that anything that has an effect is real. By contrast, I hold both that many real things may have no current effects (Levi is somewhat open to this concept of “dormant objects”) and that many things have effects that are not real (here Levi would disagree, I think). For example, all of the objects of experience have some sort of trace emotional or intellectual effect upon us, but for me this not the same thing as reality. Reality and causal efficacy are two separate things for me.
I just thought of this because an Australian reader was asking me about point number two. Point number one has become a debate within analytic metaphysics as well.

(title unknown) by enowning interviews Robert Pippin about Hegel. Here's the question on the subject's determinacy:
OH: Despite the fact that Hegel saw emerging in society something like, as you put it, “a general solution to the problem,” he also speaks to the incomplete, or unrealized, character of subjectivity in modern society. In contrast, most critical social theory since has rejected the category of subjectivity as an Enlightenment “illusion” that we should rid ourselves of. But if we understand subjectivity in modern society as a task, rather than a fact to be affirmed or rejected, the question becomes far more interesting. What do you think Hegel would have to say about such renunciations of “subjectivity”?

RP: This kind of critique of human subjectivity is essentially the result of those Paul Ricoeur called the “masters of suspicion”: Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. These are the first to suggest that the domain of conscious intention, decision, and judgment is merely an appearance, while the true determinates of what we take ourselves to be consciously determining are actually inaccessible to consciousness. The domain of our conscious attentiveness is a kind of illusion, a pretension to run the show of our own lives, whereas it is actually some manifestation of the relation between the mode of production and the relations of production in a given society, or the will to power, or the unconscious. What poststructuralism did, which is essentially a post-Heideggerian phenomenon, is intensify the skepticism about the possibility of running any show, by destabilizing the attempt to identify these so-called true forces of determination—the unconscious, the will to power, economic relations of class, and so on. Such an intense skepticism that we could ever come to any determination about those latent forces leaves one in a of condition of complete indeterminacy—a “floating signifier.”

The central response from the Hegelian tradition we have been discussing is that the conclusion of utter indeterminacy points immediately to its own practical unintelligibility. In other words, suppose you are convinced that human subjectivity, in this somewhat crude sense of “running the show,” is an illusion. What would it be to properly acknowledge this fact, in one’s life, from the first-person point of view? Are you supposed to wait around indefinitely, to see what your indeterminate forces do? There’s some enormous overcorrection in the history of Western thought since roughly Marx and Nietzsche, in which all sorts of babies are being thrown out with all kinds of bath water. The dimension of a free life that Hegel is interested in has not, by virtue of these critiques, been superseded or gone away, unless we have some way of understanding what it would be to actually acknowledge such a departure in life. The postmodernist critique of subjectivity is “overdone” to the extent that it leaves us with no concrete way to understand what the actual position of subjectivity should look like to an agent.

The problem of freedom, as Hegel understands it, is not freedom from the interference of external impeding forces. Hegel is one of the first to offer a critique of the liberal democratic tradition for its emphasis on isolating the realm of entitlement to mere non-interference. You can be un-coerced, and do what you take to be appropriate, and still have a relationship to what you do that is not identification, that is not affirmative toward it. We are finite beings, of course. Much of what we do falls within a constructed realm of possibilities that we do not determine. But, for Hegel, what is crucial is the kind of recognitive relation between that realm of possibilities and what you actually do, and the conditions for you to be able to enjoy that kind of identification are social and public. They are largely determined by the kind of world you grew up in, or the kind of world you have to deal with when you are grown up. So the problem of freedom, for Hegel and those who follow him, is not freedom from external constraint, but the establishment of the social conditions under which the life you lead seems to be the one you have determined.

Recently in Washington DC, The XIV Dalai Lama mentioned during a program that a Sufi Master friend of his had indicated that he starts his teachings by propounding 3 questions. 1. What is the Self? 2. Is there a beginning? 3. Is there an ending?
These three questions are worth consideration as we take up the new chapter The Philosophy of Rebirth. There are some who believe that the self is a specific human personality or ego, born at a certain time, existing for a certain number of days, or years, and then dying. For such individuals, who see the self as a limited formation, with a specific beginning and a specific ending, it is impossible for them to assign any greater significance to human existence. There are those again who expand upon this and present us with a limited self and a beginning, but then indicate that after death there will be a resurrection and eternal life with our earthly family rejoined. In this instance, we see that there are some conceptual limitations involved as well. Others look upon our current personality and ego-formation as one in a long series of births, successively building upon the past in a more or less systematic way. And still others do not accept any ultimate reality to the ego-personality but accept that there is continuity in some form from life to life. There are as many different ways of looking at this issue as there are philosophies and religions.
In the present chapter we shall take up a review of the question of rebirth as it is important for our attempt to understand the significance of life that we see the true perspective on the issue without the egoistic or the temporal ignorance which we discussed in the immediately preceding chapter.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 20, The Philosophy of Rebirth