Tuesday, October 30, 2007
One of the main key arguments of the text is that enlightenment is bodily. Not simply awakening consciousness, but Conscious Light–body, breath, attention, and emotion released/surrendered to God. This notion of the body enlightened accords with Da’s assertion that the way of Sacrifice not inward realization nor outward habitual activity, is the true posture of the awakened heart-mind.
Now Da also does something very interesting in the text, which I believe points (half-way) to post-metaphysics. Da, as some readers know, employs a notion of 7 Stages of Life (from birth to Transcendental Sacrificial Love Bliss Awakening….the 7th stage having two phases, sahaj samadhi and bhava samadhi). This notion of the 7 Stages of Life was the prime influence on Wilbers 2-4 and the notion that the psychic, subtle, causal, and nondual states (incorrectly) are stages on top of the chain that runs from archaic, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, and integral. First thing then to do is recall that the four states are possible at any stage of development. With that correction in mind, I’m still going to use Da’s language….
The 5th Stage of Life in Da is the Subtle-Illuminative path. The path of Ascended Light to the Matrix up and out of the head (seen in paintings of saints with halos of light encircling the skull). Now in the traditions, such visions associated with this tradition–visions of heaven, mystical union with a Deity Form, subtle sounds/colors, etc.–were considered to be intuitions/experiences of actually existing other realms. You actually, as it were, went to heaven and united with Jesus.
What Da shows, and what I think is really revolutionary, in this work, is that there is no other place. Those experiences are modifications of latent powers within the human body-mind. Now from the Absolute perspective what that means is such activity is just a very advanced form of seeking, motivated by suffering/unhappiness, looking for some final release or condition to end suffering outside of oneself.
But the key point I want to emphasize here is that these experiences are simply working the human body-mind in a certain fashion and these experiences are reflex mechanisms of latent powers within the brain and nervous system.
This bodily-mediation (and “naturalistic” turn) is half of the quadrants, half of the understanding on the way to post-metaphysical spirituality and spiritual practice. In the quadrants view, that is the right-side of the quadrants (more individual upper right than lower collective right), but bodily nonetheless. Again in post-metaphysics it does not mean there are not other realms—heaven, hell, purgatory, reincarnation, whatever. It means that because all of our experiences, even so-called mystical ones, are bodily mediated and our bodies are earthly (though transcendentally possible, transcendent within this realm however), then we can’t make any determination one way or the other about such other realms. We can appeal to Revelations I suppose as long as one admits it has to be taken on faith. Alternatively, there are “suggestive” (though by no means conclusive) pieces of evidence from individuals claiming to have experiences of life after physical death (again those experiences mediated, if true, by a subtler form of body).
This realization of full bodily enlightenment, is why Touch is the sense most connected to enlightenment (not sight as is traditionally the case).
But this is only half-way to true post-metaphysics because it seems to me Da is unaware of a second step the understanding of the Lower Left (though elsewhere he basically outlines the quadrants and the phrase include and transcend is his, but he doesn’t seem to have it in relation to spiritual experiences). In other words, he seems to assume not that the experiences (of light say) are universal constructs outside of the human. Bodily mediated no doubt, but not investigated as to the possible content of those experiences being shaped by the religious-social context of the individual. Christians have visions of Jesus. Jews do not have visions of Krishna. The common forms of the 5th Stage Ascended Light Mysticism Da describes are a product of his Siddha Yoga Indian Spiritual training. There are certainly similarities in other traditions, but the content is not the same.
Once we get that all experience, mystical or mundane, are consciously, socially and bodily conditioned/mediated, then we I think are really onto something profound. Does not mean there are not layers/gradations of mediated experience, just that all are. And transcendence must sacrificial awakened life within this world, in this body and in cultures of awakening (a point Da does make forcefully elsewhere).
Monday, October 29, 2007
Even two decades after his retirement, philosophers flocked to his residence
Professor Krishna gave a new direction as the head, Department of Philosophy, Rajasthan University and continued his intellectual pursuits till the last.
Professor Krishna, who edited the Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research for over three decades, was among his students at the time of death at his C-Scheme residence here. He leaves two daughters. His wife Francine, who was Reader in English in the Rajasthan University, died about eight years ago.
As editor of JICPR, Professor Krishna introduced variety and freshness in the journal making it participatory. He raised fundamental questions on classical texts and carried out a series of dialogue between the Indian and Western approaches to philosophy.
Professor Krishna was working on an unfinished manuscript on mathematics lately. Even two decades after his retirement, philosophers, researchers and students from within the country and abroad continued to flock to his residence.
by Debashish on Wed 19 Oct 2005 01:05 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Sri Aurobindo describes “three dynamic images” through which one makes contact with “supreme Reality”
Truth, goodness, and beauty form a triad of terms which have been discussed together throughout the tradition of Western thought. They have been called “transcendental” on the ground that everything which is, is in some measure or manner subject to denomination as true or false, good or evil, beautiful, or ugly.
- The way of the intellect, or of knowledge — the way of truth;
- The way of the heart, or of emotion — the way of beauty; and
- The way of the will, or of action — the way of goodness.
Aurobindo comments further that “these three ways, combined and followed concurrently, have a most powerful effect.” 
Chalmers went one step further claiming that consciousness cannot be explained by any known scientific theory
Friday, October 26, 2007
1 comments: Maria Technosux said...
she shows she knows ‘the’ debates around a particular author or field with a quick sketch, then she shows she knows the critical angles on these debates and that these could be fruitful, but are often not without problems, but then, rather than detailing or extending these, she takes some moment or oblique angle on the text ...In Kant, Hegel and Marx, in chapter one, we see something similar. This (for lack of a better word) "literary" technique of critique might work well with Jane Ire (because that was intended as fiction, so people feel justified in engaging the what's jokingly referred to as The Rose Petals Discussion), but does it work well for the, you know, Big Dudes? "key texts of philosophy – proper names Kant, Hegel, Marx (the three wise men)"?Or could this be an outcome of the fact that everything that has to be said about these guys has already been stated ad infinitum, so now people have to resort to "tak[ing] some moment or oblique angle on the text" to say something we haven't said yet? mention of the raw man (dem rohen Menschen) on page 13 Thanks, now we know where Agamben stole "the naked life" from! The naked life is Agamben reinventing the wheel of raw man for the people who haven't read this before, but this time without "insulting a large portion of humanity here", cos Agamben now claims that "a large portion of humanity here" are themselves "raw uncultured men" (or nude life, so you will). Tex.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Politics, Rancière argues, is the rare event that occurs when slaves cease to be subservient and forcibly partake in the aesthetic field
Monday, October 22, 2007
By DAVID L. GOLDING Crimson Staff Writer Published On Friday, October 19, 2007 3:21 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Filed under: Metaphilosophy — Peter @ 12:00 am
- The first way to avoid the problem is to deny that it is philosophy’s role to produce true philosophical theories or claims. Instead, it is said, we are simply to illuminate the connections of ideas, and show that if certain claims are accepted then other claims follow. This fails in two ways. First it leaves the principles of inference, those by which we determine how one claim is connected to another, without justification.
- Secondly, it makes philosophy a pointless enterprise. If some of the claims in the network of relationships uncovered can be established by some other discipline then there is no need for philosophy and we should just be engaging in that other discipline. But if the claims cannot be established by some other discipline then there is simply no point in detailing how some of them imply the others. Another way to avoid the need for a metaphilosophical theory is to produce intentionally obscure philosophy, philosophy that can be interpreted in a large number of ways (instead of just one). This avoids part of the problem, by producing claims that are acceptable to everyone simply because they are free to interpret them in ways that agree with their existing beliefs. But I cannot stomach this solution because I have some degree of intellectual honesty, and this solution amounts to pretending to produce philosophical claims while really doing nothing of the sort.
- And finally we come to the third solution, which is simply to deny that there are right and wrong answers in philosophy, but that both sides are right and that the “Truth” (with a capital T) results from a synthesis of both sides.
Again, this approach seem unpalatable to me because it involves a level of intellectual dishonesty, on two levels.
- One level of intellectual dishonesty springs from the fact that while many might espouse this theory few actually live by it. Synthesis is fine and good until we come to the positions that those who endorse it care about, at which point suddenly one position on the issue is correct and the other wrong.
- The other, more serious, kind of intellectual dishonesty comes from the fact that the theory is not applied to itself. If we were being honest we would synthesize the theory itself with its denial, and that new theory with its denial, and so on. Whatever that supertask yields would be the appropriate philosophical paradigm to operate under. Since they can’t adopt that position proponents of synthesis should accept that other approaches, those that deny synthesis, have equal validity, at which point any outside observer will conclude that by endorsing its opposite synthesis has denied itself.
- Isn’t ‘freedom’ a theme or horizon in and through which we establish, and re-activate the sense of our world?
- that is, isn’t the concept of freedom something that’s necessarily ‘hazy,’ since it is not a determinate object (in the sense of Gegenstand), but precisely that guiding ideal, that Telos, which is always being re-negotiated and transformed by our engagements with a world via the development of thinking?
- Isn’t it expressed in the cultural object we have produced?
- And, since a Telos arises out of a given cultural formation (an objektivitaet), which is itself the product of previous performances, Might the problematic of ‘Freedom,’ not mark the very problematization of intentionality itself — i.e., that what was intended and what was actualized are not identical, and hence require further effort to distill the spontaneous potentials that ‘inhere’ within the sediment of history, within the world for us?
"Freedom can no longer be either 'essential' or 'existential,' but is implicated in the chiasmus of these concepts: we have to consider what makes existence, which is in its essence abandonded to a freedom, free for this abandonment, offered to it and available in it" (p. 9).
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
by RY Deshpande on Tue 16 Oct 2007 05:17 PM PDT Permanent Link
[Based on a talk given at Savitri Bhavan on 13 April 2006—Part III. A good deal of material presented here has been drawn from my book Narad’s Arrival at Madra.]
Below him circling burned the myriad suns:
He bore the ripples of the etheric sea;
A primal Air brought the first joy of touch;
A secret Spirit drew its mighty breath,
Contracting and expanding this huge world
In its formidable circuit through the Void;
The secret might of the creative fire
Displayed its triple power to build and form,
Its infinitesimal wave-sparks’ weaving dance,
Its nebulous units grounding shape and mass,
Magic foundation and pattern of a world,
Its radiance bursting into the light of stars;
He felt a sap of life, a sap of death;
Into solid Matter's dense communion
Plunging and its obscure oneness of forms
He shared with a dumb Spirit identity.
We have here the five classical elements appearing in rapid succession: Ether-Air-Fire- Water- Earth, or in their Sanskrit names Akash-Vayu-Agni-Apas-Prithvi. These are the well-known five ancient irreducibles of Matter, panchamahābhūtas, the Five Great Elements, fundamental elements, but not to be confused with what modern chemistry understands as elements. There are quite a few Vedic descriptions associated with these five elements, and they show that their character is more of the subtle kind than the gross. The five qualities related with these five great elements are, respectively: Sound-Contact-Form-Fluidity-Solidness, in Sanskrit Shabda-Sparsha-Roopa-Rasa-Gandha.
We might read this Vedic description of the elements along with the description we have in the Puranas. Thus in the Vishnu Purana, Vishnu is depicted in five luminous forms, each form corresponding to one of the five elements. Their names are: Vasudeva-Sankarshana- Pradyumna-Aniruddha-Narayana, related to Akash-Vayu-Agni-Apas-Prithvi. The associated objects Vishnu carries in his hands are: Conch-Discus-Mace-Lotus-Globe, Shankha-Chakra- Gada-Padma-Prithvi. The first four are in the four hands of the Cosmic Godhead and the fifth, Prithvi or Earth, or Globe, is between his two feet.
With these five elements of Matter there is also the Greek association, linking them with the five Platonic solids: Ether = Dodecahedron; Air = Octahedron; Fire = Tetrahedron; Water = Icosahedron; Earth = Cube.
There exists an extensive study with respect to these five elements in spiritual, occult, religious, and many secular disciplines. But let me take just one example, from Milton’s Paradise Lost, Book III. It belongs to the story of creation as given in it, the story narrated by a deep theological mind. In it Uriel narrates to Satan how, at the command of the Creator, arose out of Confusion the great World-Order:
I saw when at his Word the formless Mass,
This world’s material mould, came to a heap:
Confusion heard his voice, and wilde uproar
Stood rul’d, stood vast infinitude confin’d;
Till at his second bidding darkness fled,
Light shon, and order from disorder sprung:
Swift to their several Quarters hasted then
The cumbrous Elements, Earth, Flood, Aire, Fire,
And this Ethereal quintessence of Heav’n
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rowld orbicular, and turned to Starrs
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move;
Each had his place appointed, each his course,
The rest in circuit walles this Universe.
Well, this is a fine poetic account of the Sankhya metaphysics, but what about the process by which the material creation came into existence, process which can give us a handle to grapple the issue of materialisation itself? But here is Narad who knows it, the mechanism, even as he adapts it for his present purpose, to visit Aswapati in a gross physical body. Materialisation of the spiritual is a mystery to us yet we can get some idea of it from what Sri Aurobindo has explained in a number of contexts. He has given the details in quite a few places, in Essays on the Gita, The Life Divine, in his writings on the Upanishads, in the Letters, and in fact in Savitri on several occasions. But let us read what he has written in his commentary on the Kena Upanishad. He writes:
In an interview with Pavitra, dated 8 May 1926, Sri Aurobindo explains as follows:
In the West the higher minds are not turned towards spiritual truth but towards material science. The scope of science is very narrow: it touches only the most exterior part of the physical plane. And even there, what does science really know? It studies the functioning of the laws, edificates theories ever renewed and each time held up as the last word of truth! We had recently the atomic theory, now comes the electronic!
According to the experience of ancients Yogis, sensible matter was made out of five elements, bhūtāni: Prithvi, Apas, Agni (Tejas), Vayu, Akasha.
Agni is threefold:
- ordinary fire, Jala Agni,
- electric fire, Vaidyuta Agni,
- solar fire, Saura Agni.
Science only entered upon the first and the second of these fires. The fact that the atom is alike the solar system could it lead it to the knowledge of the third. Beyond Agni is Vayu of which science knows nothing. It is the support of all contact and exchange, the cause of gravitation and of the fields (magnetic and electric). By it, the action of Agni, the formal element, builder of forms, is made possible. And beyond Vayu is the ether, Akasha. But these constitute only the grossest part of the physical plane. Immediately behind is the physical-vital, the element of life buried in matter. J. C. Bose is contacting this element in his experiment. Beyond is the mind of matter. This mind has a far different form than the human mind, still it is a manifestation of the same principle of organisation. And deep below there are two more hidden layers… That is the occult knowledge concerning the physical plane only. Science is far behind this knowledge… Apas is the element that makes life possible—the desire which is the source of life—Agni is the element which renders form possible and Prithvi is the compacting element which concretises.
But how does Narad work out the spiritual to material alchemy? He does it by exercising his spiritual will. We have to understand that there can be different agents entering into the play. There can be mental will, vital, or even physical will. There can be the will of the being of knowledge, of the spiritual self; it could be a free soul’s will. Each has its characteristic form, with each will; each has its own functional role, its own modus operandi. The Avatar uses his supreme Will and comes here by projecting his higher Prakriti into the lower. A free being can prepare a form or body using his spiritual will. Narad is one such. But in all the cases the five great elements, panchamahābhūtas, are the basic ingredients of the bodily existence. There is replication of the grand process by which the Spirit becomes Matter, attains communion with it. Narad’s godly form, daivīrūpam, has now become the form of man, manuşyarūpam. This is the form in which he makes his entry into the palace hall.
I think, we may quickly look here into another aspect, the aspect related to the Mother’s work. She made an important discovery which she disclosed on 1 July 1970. She told that it is the psychic being which will materialise itself and become the supramental being. It is the psychic being which survives death. So, if it materialises itself, it means the abolition of death. The Mother’s new body was aimed at that. Perhaps that is the process. Now it is the New Body which will do whatever is to be done. It is not an inert lump of matter; it is charged with luminous dynamism of the Divine. It is going to exert pressure upon the material in the evolutionary process.
There are other aspects also, aspects of the Chakras or the centres of occult energy in the subtle-physical body. Man is presently endowed with seven Chakras only. But two Chakras below the feet and three above his head have yet to get formed and become operative. This is what the Mother was told by Théon. It was her experience too. For these Chakras to come into operation, it is necessary to do another type of occult-spiritual yoga-tapasya. It is only then that the physical can respond to the working of the higher consciousness-force. This indeed became the main thrust of the Mother’s yoga-tapasya during the last fifteen years or so of her work.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, W. Wallace and A. V. Miller (trans.), Michael Inwood (introduction and commentary), Oxford University Press, 2007, 680pp., $160.00 (hbk), ISBN 019929951X. Reviewed by Sebastian Rand, Georgia State University
The Philosophy of Mind is the final part of Hegel's Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline. In the last century or so of Hegel scholarship, the Encyclopedia has played a relatively minor role, despite the fact that it lays out the mature form of Hegel's system as that system was taught by Hegel himself (he wrote the Encyclopedia as the basis for his lectures). It has been largely overshadowed by other texts: the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Science of Logic dominated 20th-century discussion of Hegel, while the Philosophy of Right has recently attracted a good deal of attention.
The roots of this canonical situation can be found in the content of the Encyclopedia itself. It is divided into three parts: the Logic, the Philosophy of Nature, and the Philosophy of Mind. The first is essentially a short version of the material presented in great detail in the Science of Logic; the Encyclopedia Logic has thus played second fiddle to the Science of Logic. The Philosophy of Nature is normally taken to present a misguided attempt to deduce the laws and structure of nature from a priori principles; this part of Hegel's system has been widely (and wrongly) scorned since his death...
- What are we saying when we ascribe to someone a free will?
- What is the connection between our embodiedness and our mindedness?
- Must we, indeed can we, understand our embodiedness -- and perhaps also our mindedness -- only in natural-scientific terms?
- Is a purely descriptive philosophy of mind possible, or even desirable?
- To what extent is Hegel a Kantian, to what extent a "post-Kantian," and
- to what extent is he attempting to reanimate rationalist metaphysics?
The Encyclopedia in general gets much of its importance from being the unified presentation of material that is indeed also presented in an isolated fashion elsewhere, and the Philosophy of Mind is the part of the Encyclopedia that includes the systematic answers to such questions. Without a clear view of, e.g., Hegel's understanding of "subjective spirit," its relation to what Kant called "practical philosophy" (subsumed by Hegel under "objective spirit"), and its relation to our status as natural beings, his answers to these questions simply cannot be understood; but such a clear view cannot be gained by means of the previously available translations of the Philosophy of Mind. Thus Inwood's edition is welcome and timely.
That said, there are some curious choices made by Inwood in the translation as a whole -- choices which he does not clearly and forcefully justify. For instance, Inwood warns us in a footnote to his "Introduction" (p. xi note 8) that he will be translating the German "Verstand" as "intellect," though it is normally translated in the Idealist context as "understanding." He gives three reasons for this choice:
- first, the use of "intellect" for "Verstand" allows the use of "intellectual" for "verstandig," whereas, presumably, no such closely related adjective exists for "understanding;"
- second, Verstand for Hegel involves division and distinction, whereas "understanding" in English connotes agreement and sympathy;
- third, the Kantian (and hence Hegelian) distinction between Verstand and Vernunft is meant to mirror the medieval distinction between intellectus and ratio.
Such are the advantages of "intellect" as a translation for "Verstand." Here are some of the disadvantages, none of which are mentioned by Inwood: we lose the connection with other good translations of Hegel, and with the standard translations of Kant, which consistently use "understanding" for "Verstand;" we lose the engagement between the German use of "Verstand" and the English use of "understanding" in Locke, Hume, and others, as well as related terms in other languages (e.g., Leibniz's "entendement"), all of which can plausibly be said to be in play in the Idealist context; we lose the specific impact of Hegel's use of "Intelligenz," since it no longer stands out for its rootedness in the Latin "intellectus;" and we lose the connection between "understanding" and the verb "to understand" (which Inwood does use for "verstehen," but also occasionally for "erkennen"). The disadvantages in this case appear to outweigh the advantages; it is unfortunate that Inwood does not address these issues directly.