Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bergson's intuition, James' cosmic consciousness, Eucken's superconscient

Sri Aurobindo
Professor Radhakrishnan is well-known as a perfectly competent philosophic critic and thinker and it is impossible to believe that anything he has written is, as this criticism [of Mr. J. B. Raju] constantly suggests, a mere mass of imbecile inconsequence. I gather that his offence is to have done exactly what he should have done, that is, to represent the thought of Tagore, - who is a poet and not a metaphysical dialectician but an intuitive seer, - as an intuitive whole: the dry-as-dust intellectual formalism of analysis demanded of him by his critic would have been in such a subject grotesquely out of place.
A still greater offence is that he has endorsed the poet's exaltation of the claims of intuition as superior, at least in a certain field, to those of the intellect. Mr. Raju seems to think that this claim consecrates "a mistaken and obsolete psychology", the "infatuation of a certain glamour which in the popular imagination hangs round the ancient words, mysticism and intuition". Mistaken, if you choose to think so; but obsolete?
What then are we to make of Bergson's intuition, James' cosmic consciousness, Eucken's superconscient, the remarkable trend towards mysticism of recent scientists, mathematicians, thinkers, the still more remarkable speculations of contemporary Russian philosophers? These men at least are not irresponsible poets or incompetent dupes of the imagination, but psychologists of the first rank and the most original contemporary thinkers in the philosophic field. Mr. Raju's defence of the claims of the reason is well enough written, but it is founded on contentions that once were commonplaces but are now very disputable assertions.
Indeed, if the most recent thought has any value, he is himself open to the retort of his own remark that he is the victim of a mistaken and obsolete psychology. Mr. Raju may be right, the modern psychologists and philosophers may be wrong, but the time has passed when the claims of intuition could be dismissed with this high, disdainful lightness. The subject, however, is too large to be touched at all within my present limits: I hope to return to it hereafter. Works Of Sri Aurobindo > The Hour Of God Volume-17 > Shama'a Page -320

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