Thursday, November 30, 2006

Unconditional and undeconstructable

Edward Berge Says: November 16th, 2006 at 9:10 am You’d probably find much agreement with Derrida Ned (Alan, Tusar), if you look deeply. He also shows how our culture emphasized the self over the other, autonomy over communion, male over female, intellect over feeling. And he shows a way to go behind such hegemony of one over another by pointing to that which is unconditional and undeconstructable. If you choose to box him in as “intellectual” of course you’ll miss this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Vitality and change, openness for question and experiment

Indian Philosophic Prose in English Dr. Sumita Roy
The source of inspiration in the case of Devendranath Tagore was his own heart, in contradistinction to the privilege given to revelatory scriptures by other Brahmos. Here the fourth of Veeser’s assumptions comes into play because both imaginative and archival discourse shows the alterable nature of truth. Keshab Chandra Sen borrowed from Christianity, while Vivekananda categorized the West as materialistic/ pragmatic and the East as spiritual/ impractical.
Aurobindo attempted to establish the identity of Hinduism not by return to the past nor by asserting its timeless validity; for him it was the source of vitality and change, openness for question and experiment. Coomaraswamy spoke in defence of tradition in Hinduism through his criticism of Radhakrishnan, who, he felt, had failed in the task of actualizing and modernizing the tradition, as had several others. Krishnamurti did not show allegiance to any particular philosophic system or tradition and spoke of spiritual truths as lying deep within oneself, to be realized by one’s own effort.
It was the unique privilege of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharshi to bring an experiential dimension to the expression of philosophic truths. The tolerance and universal dimension of Ramakrishna’s spiritual message and the silence of Ramana, which is as eloquent as his words of wisdom, bring new levels of truth to philosophic discourse. But, of course, this was not the last word. It has been said that Vivekananda’s use of the teachings of his guru Ramakrishna was styled in his own peculiar way to suit his purpose, for his ideas of mass-education and philanthropy were not directly mirrored in the teachings of Ramakrishna...
Radhakrishnan, notwithstanding his alleged lack of originality, was one of the most successful spokespersons for neo-Hinduism in the West - as memorable as he was persuasive. His relentless crusade began with his objection to the European verdict of ethical deficiency in Hinduism in addition to its unsuitability to scientific progress. B N Seal went a step further and upheld the potential of Hinduism to bring about a European renaissance.
Bhagavan Das articulated the opinion that philosophy should not be an end in itself as it was in Europe - a more or less intellectual engagement. He advocated the need for a practical philosophy helpful to man and society. P R Damle viewed the future of Indian philosophy as one of revival and constructive exposition of non-monistic and non-idealistic systems of thought. In all of these, the attempt is to make philosophy acquire a saleable value and the oft-repeated attempt to justify it in scientific terms of reference is just one more attempt in this direction.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Computers are no longer just tools but complex systems

Disappearances chapter 1 (code and the pentecostal condition) by Richard Carlson by Rich on Fri 17 Nov 2006 10:53 AM PST Permanent Link
The similarities and differences of speech to writing to code are complex and are still being discovered and defined by theorist. Below are some instances of the differences between the speech, writing and code which N.Katherine Hayles highlights in her book “My Mother was a Computer” (2006)
In contrast to Derrida's critique of writing, machine code can not endlessly defer and differ for it has precise meanings in terms of binary systems of 1s and 0s. Code however, must be unambiguous and therefore can not tolerate floating signifiers.
Code also assumes the semiotic relationship of signifiers to signifieds . In machine code voltages can be seen as signifiers which are interpreted by a higher level language (compiler) as a signified.
Codes can not be transposed into other systems of codes. e.g. Unlike written language in which an older version can be translated into contemporary language (ex. Old English- e.g. Chaucer - can easily translated into modern English) one can not run out dated versions of software on new hardware, or have it interpreted by the newest operating systems. For example, one can't run a program for DOS on Windows software.
Unlike other forms of language codes exists in clearly differentiated versions which are executable. They are subject to processes contingent of the interpretations by higher level languages of binary code, and their execution on hardware platforms.
The community of speakers in a code largely determined by the operating system they use, e.g Microsoft or common networking languages they use such as HTML or Java
Although code may inherent little of baggage from metaphysics (it does not contain signifiers which only refer to themselves e.g. transcendental signified )it is permeated throughout with the politics and economics of capitalism along with embedded assumptions, resistant practices, and hegemonic re-inscriptions. Although the historical context of code does not present a troublesome metaphysical problem, it present a troublesome problem in the way assembly codes rely on historical practices to be created. For example, ASCII is encode in bit patterns which are physically presented in the shape of a teletype bell. The form of the teletype bell was created years ago when teletypes were state of the art technology however, the physical form of the code has not evolved because it is less troublesome to adapt subsequent versions of the code to the actual form as to change the historic form of the code itself.
An aspect of code not mentioned by Saussure and Derrida is digitization or the transmission of information in discrete packets. All code must be discrete by the process of rectification the voltage errors are rendered in terms of discrete ones and zeros.
As Derrida argues writing exceeds speech, Hayles argues that code exceeds writing in that in its compiling ability it enables communication between the natural languages of human and the electronic language of intelligent machines.
Like speech and writing computer behaviors can be interpreted by human users at multiple levels and in diverse ways, but this activity comes after the computer activity of compiling code and executing programs
Not all codes are alike and some mirror more closely natural languages than others. Unlike procedural languages such as FORTRAN and BASIC which relies on modularize procedures as can be represented in a flow chart (ex. Put the grommet in the bin,,, “set the bot in the chip that means the relay will close) C++ however, instantiates a shift in that as an object oriented program it uses code in terms of more natural language. C++ uses the same language of translating machine behaviors and human commands. C++ uses late binding in which the compiler ensure the function exists and checks its form for accuracy but the actual address of the code is not used before the program is run.
Code is not a system of differences but the calculation of differences. (eg. The differences between 1's and 0s)
Computers are no longer just tools but complex systems that increasingly produce the conditions , ideologies, assumptions and practices that help to constitute what we call reality. As true for other forms of ideologies the interpolation of the user into the machinic system does not require his/her conscious recognition of how he or she is being disciplined by the machine to become a certain kind of subject.
References: Abram, David (1997) The Spell of the Sensuous, Random House Books, Vintage Books New York

Thursday, November 16, 2006


An excerpt from Twilight of the Clockwork God: Conversations on Science & Spirituality (1999) which some might find interesting: The interviewer, John David Ebert, comments in the end-notes: Posted: 10/19/06, 1:02 pm Post subject: William Irwin Thompson on Ken Wilber and Jean Gebser
Quote: It occurs to me that Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson are modern incarnations of an archetypal dichotomy of intellectual temperament. Aristotle and Plato are perhaps the earliest manifestation in Western culture, but it has continued right down the line in such pairs as Newton and Leibniz, Kant and Goethe, Hegel and Schopenhauer. The Wilber type is the Systematist for whom the world is capable of reduction to a single clear architecture. There is one set of truths, eternal and unchanging, which the Systematist, whether he is Kant or Hegel, Newton or Aristotle, believes he has been uniquely privileged to discover.
Everything is assigned to its niche, like the saints and apostles in a Gothic cathedral, and one system contains all the necessary answers for any question that should arise. For Wilber, consequently, there is only one theory that is articulated over and over again in each of his books, all of which repeat the same schemas and diagrams endlessly. His work can be neatly divided in two halves, for Sex, Ecology, Spirituality marks the birth of his new Final Theory, in the light of which his earlier works are to be taken as precursors. Everything since that book contains a carbon copy of the same four-fold diagram of quadrants, as though consciousness can be mapped as neatly as the trajectory of a parabola on a Cartesian grid.
For the Thompson-Schopenhauer-Goethe-Leibniz-Plato type, the world is in flux and its truths are changing along with it. The ideas of these thinkers are never finished, always subject to revision, and constantly undergoing transformation as new truths are tested, or new theories acquired. The world is a state of perpetual Becoming and no system or body of knowledge can ever hope to be complete, capturing all that there is to know at last. No scholar has ever succeeded, for example, in capturing the fine nuances of Plato's ideas as they evolve through the course of his dialogues. Nothing but actually reading them through chronologically can replicate the experience of watching his thought ripen to its full maturity.
Plato, like Nietzsche, was not afraid of contradicting himself, for the two were alike in their manner of constantly trying out new ideas on themselves to see what the resulting points of view would look like. Something of this dichotomy is embodied, also, by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. For the former, working in the medium of stone meant the production of complete masterpieces. Michelangelo almost always finished what he started--until later years, that is--and consequently we possess only a handful of unfinished works. The Sistine Chapel constitutes a veritable System of the Christian cosmos, complete in every respect from Genesis to Apocalypse.
For Leonardo, on the other hand, the world was ever changing and so were his views. Rarely did he finish what he began. Each painting is a sort of test of an entirely provisional theory. His notebooks are unsystematic and no one has ever really managed to capture their full complexity in a synopsis. Thompson, likewise, must be read in his entirety, every book, in order to grasp the substance of his vision, which is always changing. He is unsystematic, but always innovative, incorporating fresh insights with each new volume. Every book is a unique experience. For him, consequently, Wilber personifies that which Thompson most dreads: the Final Theory Engraved in Stone.

Pluralistic relativism

Jeff Meyerhoff
Pluralistic relativism could mean many things. The many meanings of relativism are described by Michael Krausz and Rom Harre in their book Varieties of Relativism and by Maria Baghramian in her book Relativism. I will name some major theorists who could be, and sometimes are, called pluralistic relativists. Nelson Goodman, one of the great philosophers of the second half of the twentieth-century, defended what he called a “radical relativism.” Paul Feyerabend, one of the five most important philosophers of science could be described as a pluralistic relativist. The philosopher and translator of Nagajuna, Jay Garfield, gives a strong relativist reading of Nagajuna's Buddhism in his book Empty Words.
The philosopher Richard Rorty, while denying the label relativist, is very often accused of being, what could be called, a pluralistic relativist. The Princeton political philosopher Philip Pettit, while perhaps not wanting the label relativist (no one does because it is more an epithet than a description), has defended what could be called a pluralistic relativism in his essay “A Sensible Perspectivism.”
We learn from the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy that “moral relativism is a standard topic in metaethics, and there are contemporary philosophers who defend forms of it: The most prominent are Gilbert Harman and David B. Wong.”[3] David Bloor, Barry Barnes and their strong programme in the sociology of science are accused of relativism. And these examples are all from the Anglo-American tradition. The Continental postmodernists are even more notorious for their alleged relativism.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The widely and rapidly spreading devastation of language

Jaques Derrida, in his insightful interpretations of Heidegger, has provided an important key to understanding this essential, problematical feature of Heidegger's conception of Being, which seems to have led Heidegger quite naturally to identify with, and possibly to take his cue from, Nietzsche's tragic sense of the eternal return of the same and will-to-power, as adequate definitions of the essence of Being. And the same problematical feature seems to have led Satprem, in his interpretation of the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, to characterize man's fate as one of 'only destruction and death.' But these 'conceptions' of Being -- at the highest range of mental understanding -- are still only human conceptions.
Derrida points out that "Heidegger's thought (in Being and Time) is guided by the motif of the proximity of Being to the essence of man," and he makes this important and relevant observation: "It remains that the thinking of Being, the thinking of the truth of Being, in the name of which Heidegger de-limits humanism and metaphysics, remains as thinking of man. Man and the name of man are not displaced in the question of Being such as it is put to metaphysics. Even less do they disappear. On the contrary, at issue is a kind of reevaluation or revalorization of the essence and dignity of man. What is threatened in the extension of metaphysics and technology -- and we know the essential necessity that leads Heidegger to associate them one to another -- is the essence of man, which here would have to be thought before and beyond its metaphysical determinations.
The widely and rapidly spreading devastation of language not only undermines aesthetic and moral responsibility in every use of language; it arises from a threat to the essence of humanity. Where else does 'care' tend but in the direction of bringing man back to his essence? What else does that in turn betoken but that man becomes human? Thus, humanitas really does remain the concern of such thinking. For this is humanism: meditating and caring that man be human and not inhumane, 'inhuman,' that is, outside his essence. But in what does the humanity of man consist? It lies in his essence (from Heidegger's, 'Letter on Humanism,' in Basic Writings, p.198-202)." (Margins of Philosophy, p. 128-129)

The tales are individual descriptions of an internal journey

ray harris Says: November 10th, 2006 at 5:29 pm Hi Alan, I have great sympathy for the revelation of the Heart and we could wax lyrical about the Heart as THE organ of realization, in Sufism, Kashmir Shaivism, etc. The difficulty I have is that in the end nothing can be said about the opening of the Heart, other than tell one’s own tale. And that is the ‘heart’ of the problem, the tales are individual descriptions of an internal journey.
I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth mentioning again, and that’s the concept of ta’wil, found in Shia philosophy and elaborated by Ibn Arabi and that is that the Divine reveals itself to individual in a unique hermeneutic. The problem with any system is that it can dull the individual’s own unique understanding. A key event in Ibn Arabi’s life was the meeting of a young girl called Nizam, which he understood to be a visitation of Sophia. Ta’wil, being individual, means that this experience was unique and it certainly fits with my own experience. In my case it was a beautiful Italian/Brazilian girl I’ll call Gulabi. The goddess appeared through her and I had an overwhelming experience of the goddess through her that no one else, not even Gulabi, could understand. (Gulabi had a different experience).
It may be possible to create a more definitive map but it will be difficult. I believe much more needs to be done in the field of comparative mysticism amongst genuine mystics freed from any need to defend a particular map. I’m writing this at the same time as I’m revisting the various Platonic variations in the Abrahamic traditions, Sohrawardi, Ibn Arabi, Gnosticism (several variations thereof) etc. Ray’s Integral Blog Integral Metatheory

People don’t even have the language to address it in its own terms

Matthew Newsham Says: November 11th, 2006 at 6:57 pm I would say that Ken is toeing the line myself- and doing it well enough that we’re writing and thinking about it. Invoking tradition works both ways. Yes, your language and thought is built out of component social parts, but those parts can push and pull you across boundries you might otherwise miss. “Orienting generalizations” aren’t there to make Ken look big (we all bow to yet another not-so-subtle zing at Ken with the moth to streetlamp comparison)- but to actually create a free flow of information across disciplines.
That’s the main issue that most people have with deconstructivepostmodernism- it doesn’t connect or resonate with their inherited traditions. Most people don’t even have the language to address it in its own terms, all they see are things like “political correctness,” which they rightly view as an outgrowth of the pomo movement (Derrida creating his own tradition?), but they don’t see it as a radical expirement of freedom (which it is) but rather as cultural rules that have to be obeyed. The I has to be meaningfully tied into the equation- which will always bring traditions with it. This is where new emergence comes from- the inside as well as the outside of a single holon made up of other holons- which continue to build upward.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nietzsche, Bergson, Samuel Alexander, Teilhard de Chardin, and Sri Aurobindo

Evolution - A Metaphysical Discussion by R.Y. Deshpande by Debashish on November 10, 2006 09:39AM (PST) This is a chapter on Evolution from R.Y. Deshpande's just published book based on Book III of Sri Aurobindo's Savitri, The Book of Fate - which deals with Narad's Arrival at Ashwapathy's kingdom of Madra. Deshpande reviews here the philosophical approaches which try to explain Becoming in the Cosmos, the meaning of Time and human destiny. His wide-ranging contemplation includes the nature of Time as seen through determinism and probability in the debates of Science, early Greek phulosophy in Heraclitus and Paramenides, Kant's reflections on the limits of rational knowledge and empirical experience and more recent evolutionary thinkers, such as Nietzsche, Bergson, Samuel Alexander and Teilhard de Chardin, before settling on Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of Integral Non-Dualism. more » Leave Comment Permanent Link