Sunday, August 13, 2006

Postmodern Spirituality

Edward Berge Says: August 12th, 2006 at 8:00 am Here is the abstract from Benedikter’s “Postmodern Spirituality” in the Reading Room of Integral World. Note his intepretation of calling it a proto-spirituality, as compared to the fuller spirituality of what appears to be eastern mysticism. He thinks they are on the verge of breaking through to this fuller realization but are prevented by their negative philosophy. Whereas to me theirs is the fuller philosophy for the reasons I’ve given above. But at least Benedikter shows that they indeed developed in this direction and had important “spiritual” insights, something that is sorely lacking in most integral analyses of the pomo movement.
This Paper gives, in the form of a dialogue, an overview over the proto-spirituality emerging in the late works of some of the main postmodern thinkers. The focus is on investigating the tendencies of thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Jean Francois Lyotard, Michel Foucault and others, to “re-spiritualize” their basic thoughts in the last years of their lives. In their late works, these thinkers searched for the “absolute secret that cannot be brought into language, but must be protected from language” (Derrida), in many cases going back into traditional religions. Or they were searching for the dimension of the “Not-I” (Lyotard) and the “inaudible presence” through the experience of “an ecstasy of the black void” (Lyotard). The following dialogue tries to describe and understand these tendencies, including the desires and fears in their background, pointing at some of the core motivations in the late works of some main postmodern thinkers...
"Deconstruction wants to teach you how to observe the rising of your own reason, the origin of your own thoughts in the very moment when these thoughts are produced. (Cf. Jacques Derrida: Letter to a Japanese Friend, in: Wood & Bernasconi (ed.): Derrida and Difference. Warwick: Parousia Press 1985, pp. 1-5; Jacques Derrida: Qu’est-ce que la déconstruction?, in: Le Monde, Mardi, 12 octobre 2004, pp. III.) Even if it remains half conscious, the ultimate goal of the best parts of postmodernity is to transform the enlightenment of the first wave, as we knew it from Immanuel Kant, into an enlightenment of a second wave. Kant said: “Always first think, use our thought and when it is over, you can and must look back and see critically what it was.” (Cf. Jean Francois Lyotard: Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime: Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Sections 23-29. Stanford University Press 1994; cf. Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book 11. W. W. Norton & Company 1998; Jacques Lacan: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960. W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition 1997; Slavoj Zizek: Tarrying With the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Duke University Press 1993).
This was the “first wave” of enlightenment. What postmodernism is trying to teach us instead, is: “Give us a second enlightenment which is synchronistic! That means: Try to observe what and how you’re thinking in the very moment you’re doing it. Be self-conscious in every moment of your life! Be a double ‘I’, a double consciousness always – and rationally!” So this is, to a certain extend, a more evolved approach of the same basic characteristics of modernity. It is a second wave of modernity. A more evolved approach, as you can see, but also a more difficult and dangerous, of course.
I agree that postmodernity was against a certain form of reason, a certain form of modernity. But this is not the main point. Because at the same time, Postmodernity had many things in common with modernity. In the end, the leading postmodern thinkers just wanted to make one step further. Beside all the provocations, besides the sometimes useless intellectual battles and the many misunderstandings. They basically wanted to proceed from diachronic to synchronic enlightenment – by the means of a “philosophical psychoanalysis of the ego”.

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