Revisiting Hegel’s India

Hegel's India. A Reinterpretation, with Texts. Aakash Singh Rathore and Rimina Mohapatra. Hegels India presents, collected together in one volume, all of Hegels writings on and about India. It is remarkable how ...

Comment by Tusar Nath Mohapatra - March 15, 2016 at 2:33 am | Reply
Hegel’s India, forthcoming (Oxford) By AAKASH SINGH is likely to spur vibrancy into this debate.

Expanding the canon part n - We have discussed several times (see also here and here) about the problem of how Indian philosophers should be part of normal classes on Medieval philosop...

What’s for Dinner? from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
The cuisine of India is a bit like Hegel where philosophy is concerned: incredibly sophisticated, nuanced, and unfolding simultaneously on a variety of different levels. You could spend a lifetime studying it and still never exhaust or master it. 

[Anyone who has bothered to read The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo would probably actually enjoy reading Hegel's Phenomenology.] ~Rod Hemsell

Sunday, April 26, 2009

[Larval Subjects March 12, 2007 Scattered Thoughts on Dialectical Reason Posted by larvalsubjects. 
In Negative Dialectics, Adorno writes, “the most enduring result of Hegelian logic is that the individual is not flatly for himself. In himself, he is his otherness and linked with others” (161). For me, Hegel’s Science of Logic has always been the great white whale, Ulysses, or Finnegan's Wake of philosophy. What interests me in Hegel is not what he has to say about Spirit or reconciliation or the formation of a total system where nothing escapes– as absolute knowledge is sometimes thought to be... No, what interests me about Hegelian dialectics– especially as formulated in the Logic –is its capacity to think otherness, relation, and an immanent tension within a system pushing it to the point of auto-critique.
Anyone who musters the will to read the Science of Logic with open eyes, free of the invectives that have been levelled against Hegel by figures such as Lacan, Deleuze, and Derrida, will be deeply rewarded with the conceptual clarity he brings to the table and the various conflicts that he unfolds and which repeat again and again in a variety of different structures of thought. Despite its Joycean prose, it is a work worth studying carefully and returning to again and again as an endless source of ideas. 
One can literally say, “oh there’s Deleuze, there’s Quine, look there’s Badiou”, and so on... This, I think, is the real hope and lesson of Hegel’s dialectical reason, for Hegel does not begin from the stance of this sort of immanence– immanence to consciousness –but rather begins from the split nature of that which posits itself as self-identical.] 7:20 PM, April 27, 2009 9:24 AM

Contemporary Indian philosophy S.K. Maitra (Eds. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, John Henry Muirhead ...) - 1966 - 648 pages
But the greatest Hegelian in my college days was the late Dr. (later Sir) Brajendranath Seal, who was the leading ... I have not so far written on Hegel, except a small comparative study of his philosophy and that of Sri Aurobindo. ...
[In my college days I was a great admirer of Hegel, whom I regarded as the greatest philosopher that had ever lived... The influence of Hegel, however, did not last long... I refer, in the first place, to the great sage of Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo, with whose philosophy I first became acquainted in the winter of 1939-40, when his great work The Life divine, which had already appeared in the pages of the “Arya,” was published in a revised and greatly enlarged form. I regret very much that I had not read this great work when it appeared in the pages of the “Arya,” for if I had done so, it would have saved me a number of years of philosophical wanderings in search of a standpoint. S.K.Maitra Emerging Theory of Values] 11:34 PM 12:30 PM

[The tension between Hegel and Nietzsche, or that between historicism and individual will is a constant and living dialog in Sri Aurobindo and it is this dialog which he is directing us towards. Unfortunately, humankind finds it more convenient to rest in belief systems which they can adulate and have no need to emulate. DB 
Re: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: The Illusion of Human Progress and the Ideal of Human Unity (part 5 of 6) by Debashish on Fri 03 Apr 2009 12:19 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link 10:15 PM]

[The posthuman in this sense is the crossing of the barrier of Ignorance into Knowledge, the arrival of the purusha at a freedom which is not only master of cosmos but its creator. The hubris of the post-Enlightenment Nietzschean superman converges here with the Aurobindian superman. 

Most of us have been drawn to philosophy through the gateway of Sri Aurobindian thought and that's patently a disadvantage. Prior perusal of a book like, Reading Hegel: The Introductions (edited and introduced by Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra ► 2008) can amplify manifold the appreciation of Sri Aurobindo's relevance in the realm of world philosophy. [TNM55] Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm Posted by Tusar Nath Mohapatra at 3:53 PM

Aakash Singh is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at U Penn. He has been a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of Toronto, and was Research Professor in the Faculty of Political Science at LUISS University, Rome. He was previously a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Delhi.
Among his recent publications are: B.R. Ambedkar's The Buddha and His Dhamma, A Critical Edition (Oxford) and Indian Political Thought, A Reader (Routledge). His Hegel's India is forthcoming (Oxford).
Reading Hegel: The Introductions. G.W.F. Hegel. (Edited and introduced by Aakash Singh and Rimina Mohapatra). Reading Hegel. ISBN: 9780980544015
Hegel’s reflections on philosophy, religion, aesthetics, history, and law—all included here—have profoundly influenced many subsequent thinkers, from post-Hegelian idealists or materialists like Karl Marx, to the existentialism of Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre; from the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl to Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and other post-moderns, to thinkers farther afield, like Japan’s famous Kyoto School or India’s Aurobindo. This book provides the opportunity to discern how the ideas of these later thinkers may have originally germinated in Hegel’s writings, as well as to penetrate Hegel’s worldview in his own words, his grand architecture of the journey of the Spirit.

While I think Hegel was more methodologically sophisticated than Wilber, there is a lot missing from Hegel’s synthesis. Science, especially, has changed a lot, making Hegel’s philosophy of nature difficult to accept; so too, Hegel’s thought has no room for the shining achievement of the 20th century, namely feminism and the liberation of women. And while Hegel at least attempted to include Asian philosophies in his synthesis, in a way that few had before, they were stuck at the earliest and lowest level of his philosophy, making Hegel “strong with respect to time and weak with respect to space”. 
All of these vast gaps in Hegel’s thought – science, feminism, Asian philosophy – Wilber has tried hard to give a central place in his thought. His attempted synthesis is the widest one I know of – Wilber gives us some vision of what a unified synthesis now could look like.] Posted by Tusar Nath Mohapatra at 3:40 PM

Hegel in space? - Love of All Wisdom

Oct 31, 2010 - Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy argue that philosophy proper begins with the Greeks and only develops in the world that they influenced. Much of this comes out of an idiosyncratic definition of philosophy, one that ties it closely to the individual political freedom that the Greek citizens had. I’ll admit I don’t understand Hegel well enough to understand why he defines philosophy this way, but it seems highly suspect to me – especially given that he is perfectly content to consider feudal Christian thought philosophy, at a time where there was little political freedom to express wide individual differences in thought, and when Greek democracy had disappeared.

Probably more important than mere definition is the question of timing. Hegel places Asian thought at the start of philosophy, in a way that presumes Asian systems of thought to be static. In Hegel’s defence, the project of translation was only beginning; Hegel had little access to Asian thought beyond the classics. If one hadn’t read any Western philosophical texts dating from the common era, it might look static too. With only the Asian classics available, it might be easy to characterize Asian systems as lost in one side of the truth: the Chinese lost in the particular and pragmatic details of statecraft and etiquette, the Indians lost in the abstract universals of metaphysics and logic. And so in neither one do you get something that Hegel (more plausibly) takes as central to philosophy: a universal principle that is nevertheless expressed in the particulars of reality. I’ll admit some of my own generalizations might sound like they support Hegel’s claims here – but that is because they are generalizations, and therefore by their nature must leave out some significant details.

Aug 4, 2013 - Last time I explored how James Doull - from a Hegelian perspective ...Posted by Amod Lele in Analytic Tradition, Economics, French Tradition, ...
In my final year of undergrad, right before my life-changing journey to Thailand, I looked for Hegel everywhere. I took an exciting course on the philosophical period following Hegel with George di Giovanni; in a tutorial course on the geography of national identity with my favourite professor, Warwick Armstrong, my project was all about Hegel’s views on the subject. And I read through much of Charles Taylor’s excellent and readable introduction to Hegel.
It would be a considerable exaggeration to say I understood Hegel after all of this. I probably still don’t. He is notoriously difficult. But I did take lessons away from him for understanding the world. Above all he helped me deal with the questions of cultural relativism that were everywhere in the postmodern ’90s: Hegel, like few others, offered a way of reconciling the vast observed diversity of human viewpoints with the logical need for a universal standpoint of truth. It was that understanding that I brought with me to Thailand. Again, Hegel doesn’t teach you much about how to live. So practically speaking, I was still more or less the utilitarian that I’d always been, though basically by default. And it was that utilitarianism that Buddhism really challenged for me.

Modern Indian MysticismKamakhya Prasad Singh Choudhary - 1981 - 302 pages - Hegel's influence upon Sir Brajendranath Seal and Sri Aurobindo is traceable. Nietzsche's concept of the superman influenced Sri Aurobindo partly, though he propounded the concept of the superman in reference to a 'gnostic being', ie, ...

[Anyone who has bothered to read The Life Divine would probably actually enjoy reading Hegel.] ~Rod Hemsell

09/09/2014/in Auroville, Free Books, Rod Hemsell, University of Human Unity /by Auro e-Books Lecture 4. The Concept of Spirit 

The 'philosophy of religion', means the wisdom that belongs to religion, according to the genitive case. It could also mean the philosophy about religion, ad religio. The third possibility is philosophy for religion, in the sense of an agent. My interest is mostly in that wisdom which comes from religion. I am not intending to be an agent of religion, nor to encompass all of the intellectual critique of the subject as academics do. You know by now that I am not approaching the subject in an academic way. It is an exploration of what I am able to find, or to discover in the wisdom of religion. So far we have covered in great depth the concept of sacrifice, for example. And we have found evidence of a similar understanding of the term in Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. 

What we have read in Hegel's philosophy, I have found to be not only in consonance with Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, but suggestive of a much deeper concept of Spirit than we might have expected from the father of phenomenology. Tonight I would like to pursue in depth his concept of absolute Spirit. In approaching the concept of Spirit, I find a quotation that we have heard from Hegel to be particularly illuminating, and it is also a good summary of his philosophy in general. (The Phenomenology of Spirit is a landmark in the evolution of consciousness. If anyone is really interested in the evolution of consciousness, extra religio, I would strongly recommend reading this book. Anyone who has bothered to read The Life Divine would probably actually enjoy reading Hegel.) 
So, Hegel writes, “If heart and will are earnestly and thoroughly cultivated for the universal and the true, then there is present what appears as ethical life. To that extent ethical life is the most genuine cultus. But consciousness of the true, of the divine, of God, must be directly bound up with it.” 23
We must be conscious of the divine, in a direct, substantial way, in order to live the ethical life. That is what he just said. Because we are going to look back into Augustine at the very foundation of Christianity, and because Augustine looks back at Plato, we are looking here at 800 years between Plato and Augustine, 1400 years between Augustine and Hegel, and another 200 years until we see Bergson and Sri Aurobindo. And we will find that this fundamental idea of philosophy and religion has developed consistently, throughout this long period of time without much difference. It is somehow a fundamental perception and phenomenon of the human consciousness since rational thinking began. So we are looking back into the roots of that fundamental phenomenon of human consciousness today.
Hegel says, “To this extent philosophy too is a continual cultus; it has as its object the true, and the true in its highest shape as absolute spirit, as God. To know this true not only in its simple form as God, but also to know the rational in God's works – as produced by God and endowed with reason – that is philosophy.” 24 
Now this idea that truth is absolute spirit and that this is the object of philosophy gets lost in the modern scientific age to some extent, and especially in the last fifty years or so of academic philosophy which has been dominated by mathematics and logic. And of course philosophy does many things. But still, there is a certain stream of philosophy, even in the 20th Century, that concerns itself with absolute truth. To know the principle of intelligence in the universe is to know the truth, according to Hegel, and in Heidegger's philosophy for example this truth is Reason, the ground of Being. Through philosophy we cultivate a consciousness of the nature of intelligence, of order, of meaning, of purpose, and the realization that this is the essential nature of existence. The modern philosophy of evolution couldn't demonstrate more clearly the classical idea of Aristotle that everything in nature is for a purpose. [23, 24 Hegel, Lectures on the philosophy of religion (1988 ed.), p. 194]

And as I have said before, there have been strong intuitive philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, such as Bergson and Sri Aurobindo in the 20th Century. The real philosophers of evolution are therefore those who have developed the technique of grasping the whole movement of nature intuitively in its objective reality. Everything that they write is then an effort to express that intuitive grasp of the whole, which they can do in book after book because they are attuned to that creativity of nature. This way of thinking emerged first in the philosophy of Plato. And those 800 years between Plato and Augustine were very rich in the development of intuitive thinking about the whole. Then Plotinus came along about two hundred years after Christ and synthesized all the Platonic/Aristotelian understanding of those centuries and conveyed it in his school, where Augustine eventually came to be a student. And he was a giant in the history of thinking. That is why he is still studied today and had such an enormous influence on the development of Western thought. His Christianity built the bridge between classical Platonic/Greek thinking and modern European/Hegelian thinking, as I think we shall see in our exploration of the City of God. First of all, the idea of the cultus and the distinction given to it by Hegel is thoroughly developed by Augustine in his City of God, which is an enormous volume of more than a thousand pages in this English translation. In Chapter 10 we find many ideas that are especially important for our purposes.

Why Philosophy Matters Commonweal (blog) - ‎Martha Nussbaum, for many years Putnam's colleague at Harvard, has written an essay
he thought that philosophy was for all human beings, a wake-up call to the humanity in us all... that the messy matter of human life should not be distorted to fit the demands of an excessively simple theory, that what Putnam called "the whole hurly-burly of human actions" should be the context within which philosophical theory does its work. Posted by Tusar Nath Mohapatra  at 6:27 PM

Revisiting Hegel’s India

Page created on March 16, 2016 [TNM55]

Update: April 8, 2016 - Sraddha%20Apr%20'16%20pdf.pdf
Spiritual Pragmatism: William James, Sri Aurobindo and Global Philosophy
Richard Hartz

History and the East
Any purpose human life may have can only be worked out through history. Like Hegel, Sri Aurobindo developed not only a system of metaphysics, but a philosophy of history in which his metaphysics is applied, as it were, to interpreting the course of humanity’s collective existence. Like Hegel, he took history to be directional and meaningful. Both of these philosophers considered the growth of freedom and rationality to be of central importance to the unfolding of the Spirit in history. But on the crucial issue of the role of the East in this process, their views diverge to opposite ends of the spectrum.
For Hegel, “ World history travels from East to West”;71 it begins in Asia and ends in Europe. Hegel accepted the orientalist stereotype of the unchanging East as opposed to the dynamic West and erected the edifice of his philosophy of history on this questionable foundation. Nor did he find anything redeeming in Asia’s vaunted spirituality. “What we call God has not yet in the East been realised in consciousness,” he maintained, “for our idea of God involves the elevation to the suprasensorial.”72
As regards India, unlike some of his contemporaries such as Schopenhauer, he was unimpressed even by the Upanishads with their exalted philosophical vision and their conception of the Absolute which seems far closer to Hegel’s own than anything to be found in the Protestant Christianity he preferred. As for the present and future of Asian civilisations, he was an apologist for colonialism, writing in his section on India: “The English, or rather the East India Company, are the lords of the land; for it is the necessary fate of Asiatic empires to be subjected to Europeans; and China will, some day or other, be obliged to submit to this fate.”73
It goes without saying that Sri Aurobindo was far better informed than Hegel about Asian, and especially Indian, history and culture. His essay “The Conservative Mind and Eastern Progress” explodes the myth that the East has been static and ahistorical. In the East, however, the great revolutions have been spiritual and cultural; the political and social changes, although they have been real and striking, if less profound than in Europe, fall into the shade and are apt to be overlooked; besides, this unobtrusiveness is increased by their want of relief, the slow subtlety of their process and the instinctive persistence and reverence with which old names and formulas have been preserved while the thing itself was profoundly modified until its original sense remained only as a pious fiction.74
Sri Aurobindo recognised that a relative decline in the vitality of ancient Asian cultures had occurred, facilitating the westward displacement of world leadership to the previously backward countries of Europe in the last few centuries. In India he attributed this decline partly to the effect of world-negating philosophies, particularly “the later ascetic and anti-pragmatic Vedanta” that culminated in Shankara’s Advaita, as distinct from the “spiritual pragmatism” of the earlier Upanishads.75

But Sri Aurobindo’s main concern was with the future. From a global perspective, he saw the revival of some kind of spiritually enlightened pragmatism to be precisely what is needed: For the most vital issue of the age is whether the future progress of humanity is to be governed by the modern economic and materialistic mind of the West or by a nobler pragmatism guided, uplifted and enlightened by spiritual culture and knowledge…. Therefore the hope of the world lies in the rearousing in the East of the old spiritual practicality and large and profound vision and power of organisation under the insistent contact of the West and in the flooding out of the light of Asia on the Occident, no longer in forms that are now static, effete, unadaptive, but in new forms stirred, dynamic and effective.76
The European triumphalism that mars Hegel’s historical thinking contrasts sharply with William James’s spontaneous sympathies with respect to Asia. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out, biographer Robert Richardson relates, “James took the Japanese side, telling one friend, ‘The insolence of the white race in Asia ought to receive a check.’ ”77 His “anti-imperial activism was not incidental,” Richardson remarks; “it grew naturally from his advocacy of pluralism and individual self-determination and from his conviction that we are mostly blind to the vital centres of the lives of others.”78
On the pragmatic principle of tracing ideas to their practical consequences, the stark difference between Hegel and James in their attitudes toward colonialism says something about their respective philosophies that cannot be ignored. In this light, a closer alignment of Sri Aurobindo with Jamesian pragmatism and a certain distancing of him from Hegelian absolutism is only natural.

Pragmatism and the Future
William James was the most open-minded of the major figures in the history of Western pragmatism. In his hands this philosophical approach took a form that can easily be harmonised with Eastern thought. We have seen this in Sri Aurobindo’s incorporation of his understanding of the “pragmatic principle” in a philosophy built on largely Vedantic foundations. A recognition of this element in Sri Aurobindo’s writings might help to extend the relevance of pragmatism beyond the West. [S´raddha - S o April 2016 n 100 ´ raddha - o April 2016 n 99 Indus Business Academy, Bangalore, on 8-9 February, 2016) Madras Inst. of Development Studies, Chennai]

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