Thursday, November 29, 2007

Critchley’s “ethics as an anarchic meta-politics”

Despite the failures of any number of the theories – and there are many – of its adherents, the framework that Derrida established with the notion of “democracy to come” does not refuse abstraction as such, but only its formulation and development outside of the relation of engagement. That is, the thought of radical politics can itself only come-to thought on the basis of and through acts of ethico-political engagement, and not as the prescriptive incarnation of universal principles into concrete, material particularities. What is here being refused is any theory that would be deployed in such a way as to be reducible to non-action. And, it is a peculiarity of the “Democracy to Come” that it cannot be invoked without simultaneously insisting on the priority and non-neutrality of the ethical demand to act; and, this action itself always already occurs in the domain of the political – not only is it compromised, but it is partisan [5.]
In this sense, although I have not read anything of Critchley’s book other than the pages 114-123 quoted here, I am heartened by his idea of “ethics as an anarchic meta-politics,” if for no other reason than that he equates the State with the Idealist “fantasy” of the idea of political action, which simply is the very basis for liberal, parliamentary proceduralism. As far as I can see, his project is an absolute refusal of all such illusions – without reserve – and signals the most fruitful way forward for a radical politics.
[1] Despite the obvious brilliance of essays like “Can a Gift Be Given? Prolegomena to a Future Trinitarian Metaphysic” [Modern Theology, 11 (January 1995), 119-61], Milbank’s reading of Derrida on this matter is simply obtuse – and that because of other egregious theological errors that condition that reading. Remember, anything philosophy can do, theology can do better! Cf. also his essay here. And, keeping the work of Graham Priest close at hand, the mere fact that the law of contradiction is violated may – repeat, may – qualify as a paradox, but this does not, nor can it, be elided with theological mystery. (As an aside, in light of Priest’s work, when considered alongside the notion of theological mystery, it might be important, against Lubac’s claim in The Drama of Atheist Humanism, but in continuity with his impulse. to preserve Kierkegaard’s use of “contradiction” rather than his suggestion that “paradox” is more appropriate.)
[2] On this point about the priority of action, thought as a mode of action, and thinking action as distinguished from thinking the idea of action, cf. Maurice Blondel, L’Action: essai d’une critique de la vie et d’une science de la practique (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1950.)
[3] I am undecided on this point since there is something I need to think about regarding these claims and Deleuze.
[4] One would have to include Badiou in this group as well, not only because of the function of the Void in this work, and his Platonism, but also because of what are, in my terms, the blatant proceduralism in his construal of fidelity to the event. He demonstrates this more clearly than other thinker in his category of the “mystic,” which shows his utter inability to actually think the priority of political engagement over the idea of that engagement itself.
[5] As such, when Caputo says that if he did politics, he would develop a liberal democracy, it seems to me he is actually violating the ethical demands implicit in his invocation of that messianic vision. Posted by JD Filed in
Christian theology, Idealism, Milbank
Responses to “Theorizing Political Practice (II): On Why the “Democracy to Come” Is Not the Perfection of Liberal Ideology, and May Be Its Cure” An und für sich
Dave Belcher Says: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 3:07 pm ...Milbank “agrees” with liberation theology on this point–before moving beyond them of course…and that is significant, that he must move beyond them on precisely this point–but for Milbank this begins and ends as a theorized principle of a universal…quite the opposite is obviously the case for liberation theology when they make this same claim…it grows from out of their engagement in the base communities, with the political situation of the poor in the various contexts of Latin America.
Also, on Kierkegaard’s “contradiction”: absolutely. The “paradox” in SK is “the absurd,” not for its logical contradictoriness but because of the impossibility of thinking the God-man…Christendmom is in that sense much easier to swallow. What is even better, Johannes Climacus requires the next step: to think that which cannot be thought.
Where is that Caputo quote from?…that’s really disappointing (like a [BAD] negative play (a double-negative, as we’ve come to expect from Caputo) on Heidegger’s “If I were to write a theology the word Being would not appear in it”). I’ve been saying for years that the most brilliant thing that Caputo has ever formulated is the insight from Prayers and Tears that one must ceaselessly pray for that which cannot arrive to come…as if it is coming.
These are all kind of asides…I’ll respond to the main thesis later…I’m crazy-writing right now. By the way, I have a new baby girl.
Brad Johnson Says: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 6:49 pm While I am taken by the ingenuity of your analogy between Milbank & Zizek, I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of “non-action.” To point at the thinking of non-action is not to diminish the demand to act. It is “non-active” only in the sense that it escapes conceptualization, not that it hasn’t happened.
The originary decision (for Schelling / Zizek, the decision to begin) is a more real decision prior to its conceptualization than it is after. It may only make sense after the fact or retroactively, but even then there is a haunting of the remainder, the haunting of this non-act impossibly and actually acting — the trauma of that originary act that is not a part of the “proportionate” reflection that turns it into something. As such, in my view, the thinking of the non-act is itself a more sustained engagement than what you cite as preferable. In effect, the “democracy to come” has always already come, and it is the task of “therapy,” aka reflective engagement, now to engage the trauma of it having done so. (In this sense, Z.’s appeal to the “not-all” is helpful.) The trauma of the non-active political act, of a disproptionate democracy that is not reducible to thinking, for me, opens it to a new kind of activity: that of beginning anew repeatedly (each time, in a sense, always, “for the first time”).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To all this unseen movement and action the subliminal inner consciousness can open our awareness

In our surface mind we have no direct means of knowing even other men who are of our own kind and have a similar mentality and are vitally and physically built on the same model. We can acquire a general knowledge of the human mind and the human body and apply it to them with the aid of the many constant and habitual outer signs of the human inner movements with which we are familiar; these summary judgments can be farther eked out by our experience of personal character and habits, by instinctive application of what self-knowledge we have to our understanding and judgment of others, by inference from speech and conduct, by insight of observation and insight of sympathy. But the results are always incomplete and very frequently deceptive: our inferences are as often as not erroneous constructions, our interpretation of the outward signs a mistaken guess-work, our application of general knowledge or our self-knowledge baffled by elusive factors of personal difference, our very insight uncertain and unreliable.
Human beings therefore live as strangers to each other, at best tied by a very partial sympathy and mutual experience; we do not know enough, do not know as well as we know ourselves, — and that itself is little, — even those nearest to us. But in the subliminal inner consciousness it is possible to become directly aware of the thoughts and feelings around us, to feel their impact, to see their movements; to read a mind and a heart becomes less difficult, a less uncertain venture. There is a constant mental, vital, subtle-physical interchange going on between all who meet or live together, of which they are themselves unaware except in so far as its impacts and interpenetrations touch them as sensible results of speech and action and outer contact: for the most part it is subtly and invisibly that this interchange takes place; for it acts indirectly, touching the subliminal parts and through them the outer nature.
But when we grow conscious in these subliminal parts, that brings consciousness also of all this interaction and subjective interchange and intermingling, with the result that we need no longer be involuntary subjects of their impact and consequence, but can accept or reject, defend ourselves or isolate. At the same time, our action on others need no longer be ignorant or involuntary and often unintentionally harmful; it can be a conscious help, a luminous interchange and a fruitful accommodation, an approach towards an inner understanding or union, not as now a separative association with only a limited intimacy or unity, restricted by much non-understanding and often burdened or endangered by a mass of misunderstanding, of mutual misinterpretation and error.
Equally important would be the change in our dealings with the impersonal forces of the world that surround us. These we know only by their results, by the little that we can seize of their visible action and consequence. Among them it is mostly the physical world-forces of which we have some knowledge, but we live constantly in the midst of a whirl of unseen mind-forces and life-forces of which we know nothing, we are not even aware of their existence. To all this unseen movement and action the subliminal inner consciousness can open our awareness, for it has a knowledge of it by direct contact, by inner vision, by a psychic sensitiveness; but at present it can only enlighten our obtuse superficiality and outwardness by unexplained warnings, premonitions, attractions and repulsions, ideas, suggestions, obscure intuitions, the little it can get through imperfectly to the surface.
The inner being not only contacts directly and concretely the immediate motive and movement of these universal forces and feels the results of their present action, but it can to a certain extent forecast or see ahead their farther action; there is a greater power in our subliminal parts to overcome the time barrier, to have the sense or feel the vibration of coming events, of distant happenings, even to look into the future. It is true that this knowledge proper to the subliminal being is not complete; for it is a mixture of knowledge and ignorance and it is capable of erroneous as well as of true perception, since it works not by knowledge by identity, but by a knowledge through direct contact and this is also a separative knowledge, though more intimate even in separation than anything that is commanded by our surface nature. But the mixed capacity of the inner mental and vital nature for a greater ignorance as well as a greater knowledge can be cured by going still deeper behind it to the psychic entity which supports our individual life and body.
There is indeed a soul-personality, representative of this entity, already built up within us, which puts forward a fine psychic element in our natural being: but this finer factor in our normal make-up is not yet dominant and has only a limited action. Our soul is not the overt guide and master of our thought and acts; it has to rely on the mental, vital, physical instruments for self-expression and is constantly overpowered by our mind and life-force: but if once it can succeed in remaining in constant communion with its own larger occult reality, — and this can only happen when we go deep into our subliminal parts, — it is no longer dependent, it can become powerful and sovereign, armed with an intrinsic spiritual perception of the truth of things and a spontaneous discernment which separates that truth from the falsehood of the Ignorance and Inconscience, distinguishes the divine and the undivine in the manifestation and so can be the luminous leader of our other parts of nature. It is indeed when this happens that there can be the turning-point towards an integral transformation and an integral knowledge.
These are the dynamic functionings and pragmatic values of the subliminal cognition; but what concerns us in our present inquiry is to learn from its way of action the exact character of this deeper and larger cognition and how it is related to true knowledge. Its main character is a knowledge by the direct contact of consciousness with its object or of consciousness with other consciousness; but in the end we discover that this power is an outcome of a secret knowledge by identity, a translation of it into a separative awareness of things. For as in the indirect contact proper to our normal consciousness and surface cognition it is the meeting or friction of the living being with the existence outside it that awakens the spark of conscious knowledge, so here it is some contact that sets in action a pre-existent secret knowledge and brings it to the surface. For consciousness is one in the subject and the object, and in the contact of existence with existence this identity brings to light or awakens in the self the dormant knowledge of this other self outside it.
But while this pre-existent knowledge comes up in the surface mind as a knowledge acquired, it arises in the subliminal as a thing seen, caught from within, remembered as it were, or, when it is fully intuitive, self-evident to the inner awareness; or it is taken in from the object contacted but with an immediate response as to something intimately recognisable. In the surface consciousness knowledge represents itself as a truth seen from outside, thrown on us from the object, or as a response to its touch on the sense, a perceptive reproduction of its objective actuality.
Our surface mind is obliged to give to itself this account of its knowledge, because the wall between itself and the outside world is pierced by the gates of sense and it can catch through these gates the surface of outward objects though not what is within them, but there is no such ready-made opening between itself and its own inner being: since it is unable to see what is within its deeper self or observe the process of the knowledge coming from within, it has no choice but to accept what it does see, the external object, as the cause of its knowledge. Thus all our mental knowing of things represents itself to us as objective, a truth imposed on us from outside; our knowledge is a reflection or responsive construction reproducing in us a figure or picture or a mental scheme of something that is not in our own being.
In fact, it is a hidden deeper response to the contact, a response coming from within that throws up from there an inner knowledge of the object, the object being itself part of our larger self; but owing to the double veil, the veil between our inner self and our ignorant surface self and the veil between that surface self and the object contacted, it is only an imperfect figure or representation of the inner knowledge that is formed on the surface.
This affiliation, this concealed method of our knowledge, obscure and non-evident to our present mentality, becomes clear and evident when the subliminal inner being breaks its boundaries of individuality and, carrying our surface mind with it, enters into the cosmic consciousness. The subliminal is separated from the cosmic through a limitation by the subtler sheaths of our being, its mental, vital, subtle-physical sheaths, just as the surface nature is separated from universal Nature by the gross physical sheath, the body; but the circumscribing wall around it is more transparent, is indeed less a wall than a fence. The subliminal has besides a formation of consciousness which projects itself beyond all these sheaths and forms a circumconscient, an environing part of itself, through which it receives the contacts of the world and can become aware of them and deal with them before they enter. The subliminal is able to widen indefinitely this circumconscient envelope and more and more enlarge its self-projection into the cosmic existence around it.
A point comes where it can break through the separation altogether, unite, identify itself with cosmic being, feel itself universal, one with all existence. In this freedom of entry into cosmic self and cosmic nature there is a great liberation of the individual being; it puts on a cosmic consciousness, becomes the universal individual. Its first result, when it is complete, is the realisation of the cosmic spirit, the one self inhabiting the universe, and this union may even bring about a disappearance of the sense of individuality, a merger of the ego into the world-being. Another common result is an entire openness to the universal Energy so that it is felt acting through the mind and life and body and the sense of individual action ceases.
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Al-Ghazali’s argument against the necessary connection between cause and effect is almost exactly the same as the one employed by David Hume

Al-Ghazali lives in a main point of time when truth and reality seekers were lives. He inherited and did the theologian’s (Mutakallimun) way of thinking for the first period...
Al-Ghazali’s Critic against Mutakallimun's Epistemology, Philosophers and Ta’limiyah
Al-Ghazali criticized to all schools, except Ismailiyah, as whom then developing in tradition that he criticized. His mapping of his predecessors into three mainstreams of epistemologies is to criticize them as well. His critic, then, branched to two poles: in one side he criticized since he initiated himself as a part of tradition he criticized, and, in the other, he took his place as who seeks of spiritual knowledge and reality.
This attitude done by Al-Ghazali consciously when he criticized the weakness of Mutakallimun. As a theologian in this stream, he got that Mutakallimun’s reasonable thinking was not yet in optimal. Henceforth, it should be methodologically enriched in order to overcome the weakness, that the group merely borrowed the premises to construct argumentations from its ‘enemy’, viz. philosophers.
It is worsened when the premises, for instance Al-Baqillani’s atomism, not only to support certain religious belief, but used as their essential creeds. For Al-Ghazali, it is indirect searching and the lower level of reality’s searching process. Faith that is source of light even contaminated with false syllogism, which was being veil of darkness (Osman Bakar: 1998).
To philosophers, Al-Ghazali put his critic that philosophy has its justification to explain metaphysical problems. Philosophers, according to Al-Ghazali, not consequently used demonstrative thinking, hence discussing prophetic questions as well as spiritual psychology whereby also applied to others Philosophical methode for Al-Ghazali is not more than human virtue, hence it’s remain subordinated of revelation. Nevertheless, he accept of genuine philosophy that is neutral and not in opposition with religion. Meanwhile, his critic to Ta’limiyah seems more than Al-Ghazali’s sectarian feeling (Osman Bakar: 1998).
In his Sunni position, Al-Ghazali not agree on necessary claim that faith is the only which is knows ta’wil. His religious views that is influenced by Sunni socio-political visions made his argument that ijtihad is always open to anyone, not exlusively to Imam. Diposting oleh Andriansyah Syihabuddin di 14:44:00 Label: ,
To conclude, if anyone is responsible for the downfall of philosophy in the Muslim world, it is not Al-Ghazali, but rather Avicenna and the other Neo-Platonists. They confused, muddled, and distorted philosophy with their irrational ideas to the point that they ultimately defamed the entire thing. They infected philosophy with a poison that spawned an all-encompassing backlash against all its branches, from metaphysics to mathematics to the natural sciences. Their ideas were not just pernicious to Islam, but pernicious to reality. They divorced the intellect from the body, the universal from the concrete, the concept from the subject, and finally philosophy from practicality... Posted by Steven at 9:28 PM
DanielH said, on November 20th, 2007 at 9:53 am Well, I wouldn’t expect to (fully) convince anyone.
I just don’t like the simple portrayal of al-Ghazali as against human thinking. I’m not saying that everything he did influenced Islam or the world in a positive way, but I think his contributions shouldn’t be so easily discounted.
For instance, some historians have argued that arguments like al-Ghazali’s against rationalist metaphysics in the Middle Ages made space for a more empirical worldview to develop, and thus were critical to the development of modern science. It’s an intriguing hypothesis, certainly. I’m sure the reality is more complex than that, but at least it can be said that al-Ghazali’s argument against the necessary connection between cause and effect is almost exactly the same as the one employed by David Hume almost seven centuries later (al-Ghazali anticipated a number of other modern philosophers on certain ideas including Descartes and Pascal).
DanielH said, on November 20th, 2007 at 1:39 pm ...It is my understanding that al-Ghazali did not think the mind alone could reach certainty on matters of moral truth, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t think using one’s mind was necessary in Qur’anic interpretation.
In the introduction to his great work on jurisprudence, the al-Mustasfa min ‘ilm al-isul (On Legal theory of Muslim Jurisprudence — volume one available in pdf here), he wrote:
Yet the noblest knowledge is where Reason and Tradition are coupled, where rational opinion and the Shari’a are in association. This sciences of jurisprudence [fiqh] and its principles [usul] are of this sort, for they take from the choicest part of the Shari’a and Reason. They can be neither manipulated purely by Reason, such that the Shari’a could not accept them, nor based upon blind following, where Reason could not attest to their sanctity or rectitude.
al-Ghazali also thought that moral truth was more accurately perceived by a purified hearth than read in the Qur’an. See The Wonders of the Heart (another pdf) Chapter 21 of his Ihya Ulum al-Din. There is in reality little distinction between this theory and the natural law theory of Aquinas.
DanielH said, on November 21st, 2007 at 9:15 am Well, I hope we can continue the conversation sometime. It is my belief that al-Ghazali made some great intellectual contributions to the world, and that what intellectual and civilization stagnation and decline did occur in the Muslim world cannot be so easily pinned on religious thinkers like him. Happy Thanksgiving, anyway.

DanielH said, on November 21st, 2007 at 1:36 pm Again, I sincerely look forward to continuing the conversation. I do think that al-Ghazali took philosophy seriously (and did a good job at it) when he applied himself to it. For instance, I think his refutation of necessary causality is quite correct in terms of pure logic. Same goes for Hume’s argument, which was essentially the same. Kant moved the ball only by positing that causality is a category of understanding that humans must have already in their minds in order to make sense of the world — in other words, there is no logical proof of causality, but still we must act as if it is the case. I agree with Kant’s move, which however does not mean that al-Ghazali and Hume were wrong as far as their logical argument went.

Scotus provocatively claims that given what the intellect is and how it functions the intellect is not a rational potency

As Hannah Arendt brings to our attention, the concept of the will has a history, and its history was decisively shaped by Christian theologians and philosophers.[1] As Arendt so aptly puts it,
“[f]reedom becomes a problem, and the Will as an independent autonomous faculty is discovered, only when men begin to doubt the coincidence of the Thou-shalt and the I-can, when the question arises: Are things that concern me only within my power?”[2]
The Greeks of course spoke a great deal about natures, desire, and with Aristotle, we see the emergence of the faculty of choice (proairesis). However, the idea of a distinct faculty of the will as a source of its own movement is decisively absent in ancient thought. Such a suggestion in fact would have been considered contradictory, for it challenges a deeply held Greek assumption, viz., that which is moved is moved by another. In this paper, I discuss Scotus’ understanding of will (in contradistinction to a nature) as a distinct, active power, which entails his concept of the will as self-determined. The discussion of the will as self-determined logically leads to another unique contribution of Scotus’, viz., his notion of superabundant sufficiency, which I shall likewise engage albeit briefly.
In order to gain clarity as to Scotus’ view of the will as an active power, let us turn to Scotus’ discussion of the will as a rational faculty, as found in Questions on the Metaphysics IX, q. 15.[3] Because the first two objections raise what seem to me the most crucial questions, I have chosen to focus solely on them. Following my discussion of these objections, I engage Scotus’ own opinion. As was mentioned in the opening paragraph, for a Greek philosopher such as Aristotle, self-motion was considered incoherent, as it violated the generally accepted principle that everything that is moved is moved by another.
Scotus, however, against the majority view both classical and medieval, argued that the will is self-moving. Scotus opens his discussion in Questions on the Metaphysics IX, q. 15, by asking,
“[i]s the difference Aristotle assigns between rational and irrational potencies appropriate, namely, that the former are capable of contrary effects but the latter produce but one effect?”[4]
In typical fashion, Scotus replies with two answers: (1) Aristotle’s answer fails and (2) Aristotle’s schema is correct. After these opening replies, we find two articles, which address respectively: how Aristotle’s distinction is to be understood, and what is the rationale for Aristotle’s distinction. Scotus then lays out three objections to Aristotle’s view, gives his own opinion, and then tests his own opinion by offering two possible objections followed by two corresponding replies. The final section closes with Scotus’ replies to the initial arguments.
The first objection (Scotus’ objection) leveled against Aristotle’s view with regard to rational potencies producing contrary effects is as follows: if a potency is capable of producing contrary effects, then it should be able to produce simultaneously contrary effects. Having already elucidated his own understanding of the distinction between nature and will and having argued for the will as a self-determining, active potency,[5] Scotus says the following:

As for the initial argument at the beginning, it is clear that a rational potency, such as the will is said to be, does not have to perform opposites simultaneously, but can determine itself to either alternative, which is something the intellect cannot do.[6]

In other words, Scotus claims that the will because of its self-determining ability not only falls in line with Aristotle’s criteria for what it is to be a rational power, but it also surpasses Aristotle’s demands, and hence, is more rational than the active power of the intellect. In order to make this move, Scotus introduces what is now commonly referred to as synchronic contingency, which involves a distinctive understanding of possibility. In part II, I offer a brief sketch of Scotus’ innovative notion.
Part II: Scotus and the Will as a Self-Determined Active Power from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen Scotus begins by making a distinction between a proposition about the possible in a divided sense verses a proposition about the possible in a composite sense. In the latter case, such a proposition is false, as it is not possible that at the same time I both sit and do not sit. However, in the divided sense, such a proposition is possible, valid and in no way contradictory. For example, while I am sitting, it is possible that I could not be sitting.[1] Scotus goes on to provide more refined version of his view in the following passage.
To put the matter in another way, one could say that when the will is in a certain state of volition, it is in that state contingently, and that its present volition stems from it contingently, for if it does not do so then, it will never do so, since at no other time does it proceed from the will. And just as this particular volition is contingently in the will, at that very same moment the will is a potency with power over the opposite; and this holds for that moment in the divided sense. Not that it could will the opposite at the same time as it wills this, but in the sense that it has the power to will the contrary at that very instant, by not willing the other at that instant. For at this very instant it could, nevertheless, posit the other, in a divided sense, and do so not necessarily but contingently.[2]
Here we see Scotus’ insistence on the spontaneity and contingency inherent to the will as a free, active power. Likewise, Scotus wants to emphasize that even when the agent wills x rather than y, she still possesses the capacity or potency-in light of what the will itself is and the contingency involved in all of its volitions-for the opposite. Scotus is in no way advocating a contradictory state of affairs, rather he is stressing the self-determining nature of the will to act in a way such that it retains the “power to will that contrary at that very instant, by not willing the other at that instant.” In other words, the unactualized possibility is always present as a genuine (or real) possible reality.
This brings us to the second objection, which in effect says that if a power stood before opposites and was equally open to both (i.e., undetermined to either), it would not act. Consequently, an indeterminate power seems to require external determination in order to act. In Scotus’ reply to this second objection, he gives two possible responses depending upon which active power one has in mind. If one has the will in mind, given what Scotus has already said about the nature of the will as a self-determining active power, then according to Scotus, “it is able to do what it does with no conceivable predetermination to act,” as that simply is what it is to be a will that is free. However, if the power that is in view happens to be the intellect, we have a different situation. As Scotus explains:
if the argument refers to the intellect knowing opposites, then it is true that the intellect can accomplish nothing externally unless it be determined from some other source, because it knows contraries after the manner of nature, and is unable to determine itself towards any one of these opposites. Hence, it will either act towards both or not act at all. And if one concludes from this that the intellect does not suffice to qualify as a rational potency, it follows from what has been said that this is true.[3]
Paradoxically, Scotus provocatively claims that given what the intellect is and how it functions (i.e., “it knows contraries after the manner of nature”), one must conclude that the intellect is not a rational potency. Moreover, if the situation was such that wills did not exist, then the deterministic conclusion seems inescapable.

The left practices a false humility. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims

Another post or two about Orthodoxy before we move on....
I was very impressed with how Chesterton, although writing in 1907, had already diagnosed the pathologies of the left. In fact, his ideas mirror exactly what Polanyi wrote some 50 years later about the "moral inversion" of the left, i.e., the dangerous combination of radical skepticism and an unhinged, ruthless moral perfectionism unbound from tradition. Chesteron writes of the socialist that although he may have a "large and generous heart," it is "not a heart in the right place."[...]
The left also practices a "false humility." After all, it can sound like a plea for humility when the postmodern multiculturalist asks, "who am I to say that I can possess the truth, or that one culture is better than another?" But this attitude is a "more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic." That is -- and this is apparently a subtle point, so listen closely -- "The old humility was a spur that prevented man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether."
This is one of the reasons that the left habitually attacks motives instead of substance, for they first undermine the idea that you can know anything objectively, and then insist that the purpose of knowledge is domination and oppression anyway. For the last several years, "job one" of of the left has been to make us doubtful of our aims in Iraq, in the hope that we will simply become demoralized and surrender. But they do this so selectively that it is mind-boggling...
So, just as the left engages in the moral inversion of detaching virtue from tradition, they engage in a weird "cognitive conversion" that combines "intellectual helplessness" with a kind of monstrously arrogant omniscience. This is how you can spend some $100,000 plus on an elite university education, only to learn that truth doesn't exist and we possess it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World Congress on Psychology and Spirituality: Furthering their Integration

India Habitat Center, Delhi, India, January 5-8, 2008
Dr Kireet Joshi, Key Note Presenter and "Special Honoray Advisor"
Dr. Osamu. Ando, President, Japan Association for Transpersonal Psychology
Geeta Chandran, Master Bharat Natyam Dancer
Dr. Brant Cortright, Psychotherapist, Professor, California Institute Integral Studies
Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath, Principal Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University
Vladimir Maykov, President , Russian Association for Transpersonal Psychology
Dr. Leslie Lancaster, Jewish Mysticism, UK
Pawan Gupta, Educationist and Founder, SIDH (Society for integrated development of Himalayas)
Dr. David Lukoff, Death and Dying, Copresident, ATP (US)
Rajiv Malhotra, Infinity Foundation, Independent Scholar
Dr. Maja Milcinski, Asian Studies Scholar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Scientist and Spiritualist
Dr. Vitor Roderiguez, President, European Transpersonal Association
Dr. Vera Saldhana, Women and Spirituality, Brazil
Jurgen Schwing, Director of Spiritual Care, Kaiser Valley Care Hospital, California
Prof. P. A. Seshan, Founder-Global Zen Foundation and Sri Vidya Guru
Dr. Ganesh Shatavadhani, Linguist, Sanskritist, Spiritualist
Shruti, Musician, Educationist, Indic Psychologist/ scholar, Therapist,
Dr. Stuart Sovatsky, Tantra Scholar-Practitioner, Psychotherapist
Dr Kavita Sharma
Aster patel, Auroville Foundation, Auroville, Tamil Nadu
Dr Geetha Seshan, Bangalore
Prof Kapil Kapoor, former Rector and Professor of English, JNU and former Chair of Sanskrit Studies.
Prof Ramesh Bijlani, Former head of Dept of Physiology, AIIMS, New Delhi.
Dr. Swarnalata Ganesh, Head-Dept of Psychology, Christ College, Bangalore University
Vladimir Yatsenko, Auroville
Dr. Daya Singh Sandhu, Kentucky, USA.
David T. Hartman, USA
Jeongil Kim, Korea
Penny Fenner, USA
Dr. James Garbarino, Loyola University Chicago
Swami Chandrasekharanand Saraswati, India
Joan Harrigan, PhD, USA
Rev. Dr. Mara Leigh Taylor, USA
Prof. Sunita Singh-Sengupta, Professor in the area of Organizational Behaviour.
Dr. Daya Singh Sandhu, is Distinguished Professor of Research, Senior Fulbright Research Scholar, and former Chairman (1996-2004) of the Department of Educational & Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, USA.
Bernard Starr, Ph.D. main NGO representative to The United Nations for the Institute of Global Education
Pawan Kumar, Architect, Urban Development, Govt. of India, New Delhi.
Karen Palamos, a psychotherapist, group leader, artist and musician in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dr Harish Chandra, B. Tech. (IIT Kanpur) and Ph. D. (Princeton).
Dr. Lalit Kishore is Ph.D.
Jean-Marie Decuypere, Belgium
Professor Jure Biechonski, Tartu, Estonia
Joyce Z. Meyers, a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, past life regressionist, and art therapist.
S.Aravindan Neelakandan, M.Phil in Economics and M.Sc in Psychology, India
David B. King, Canada
Vera Saldanha PhD. Psychologist, USA
Navin Doshi, Philanthropist, Engineer, University Consultant, Author, India
Philip Goldberg, USA
Dana Klisanin, Ph.D, Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School, USA
Kenneth Appel Ph.D., New Mexico
Professor Rybak, Ph.D. in Educational Psychology/Counselor Education, USA
Lynn Somerstein, PhD, a Psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City
Dr. Lalit Kishore, Ph.D. in education with masters in physics, India
Andrey Gostev, Russia
Jonathan Reynolds, founder of the "Learning To Listen Yoga & Meditation Center", San Francisco
Linda Gnat-Mullin, Reiki Master and Founder, Energetic Empowerment., USA
Christian Thomas Kohl, degree in Political Sciences at the University of Berlin [Freie Universität].
Regina Hess, PhD-Student (Germany/USA)
Jan Benda, Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Doctoral candidate at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.
Michal Horak is an Ethnologist, Religionist and Psychotherapist and Doctoral candidate at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.
Susan Michaelson PhD., is a practicing artist with an extensive background in transpersonal psychology. U.K.
D. Alan Eastwood, invented the NoetitekSM. System.
Maria Letizia Bencini, clinical psychologist, Ph.D. in Hindovedic Psychology, Italy.
Tina M. Benson, M.A., is a modern-day SoulWhisperer and Transpersonal/Jungian-Oriented coach, USA
Dr. Guido Peltzer, Medical Doctor, Germany.
Dr. Akbar Husain is Professor of Psychology at the University of Malaya, Malaysia.
Fausto Sergej Sommer, Director of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology and Creative Art Therapy in Bern, Switzerland.
Evgeni Faydush - Ph.D. in Biology, President of the Russian Transpersonal Foundation, Russia
Alexey Ivanov M.S. in Computer Science, head of information technologies department of the Russian Transpersonal Foundation, Russia
Anne-Marie Mouwen MA, MSc is working on her PhD project Sources of Meaning, Netherlands
Lily Myers Kaplan, MA, a transpersonal soul-coach who guides Earth Wisdom Retreats in wild desert and forest locations throughout the US.
Bernadette BLIN, Psychologist, Transpersonal Psychotherapist, Gestalt-therapist, Teacher, Supervisor and Author, USA
Theresa Silow, Ph.D. in Somatic Studies from the Ohio State University, California
Anna Maurer, Gestalt and Transpersonal psychotherapist, Teacher of IGM-Body-Therapy, Supervisor and Author, Austria
Geoffrey K. Leigh, Ph.D., has taught and conducted research at universities in four US states
Dr.Majid Yoosefi Looyeh, USADorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, USA
Barbara Morrill, USA
Dr. Paul Soons, a psychotherapist and is an associate professor at the University of Tilburg (Netherlands)
Masoumeh Shojaei, Ph.D, is a specialist of motor behavior, sport psychologist, hypnotherapist, and coach of basketball, IRAN
Hans Peter Weidinger, Doctor of Medicine,Vienna, Austria
Catherine Sinclair is a psychologist and IST (Inner Space Techniques) therapist and from Canberra, Australia
Patrick Baudin, Medical Doctor, France
Dr. UGRASEN PANDEY, Head and Senior Lecturer In Department of Sociology, S. R. K. (P.G.) College Firozabad, Agra University, INDIA
Mel Sellick is an international television producer, host and former news reporter, USA
Swami Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti, France
Melinda Kassai, a psychotherapist, she worked several years in mental health care of The Netherlands and Hungary (Europe)
Mariko Tanaka, Ph.D., Japan
Shaun Nanavati, Master’s Degree in Sanskrit and Eastern Philosophy, India
Lígia de Noronha, spiritual Counsellor in Mozambique, Southern Africa
Alexander Dolin (b.1949), currently professor of Comparative Culture at Akita International University (Japan)Goutam Ghosh, M.Sc., after teaching physics for a few years, switched over to a career in IT
Francis X. Charet, Ph.D, has taught at a number of universities including McGill and University of Ottawa
Virendra Qazi, India, Founder of Lalleshwari International Trust.
Ahmad Alipour is Associat Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology at Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran
Maria Nandi Hetenyi, San Francisco, CA, is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology
Liv S.M. Evensen, NORWAY, Formally educated at University of Oslo, Norway
Paul C. Cooper, NCPsyA, L.P., USA, Long-time Zen practitioner; Training analyst, supervisor, faculty: National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis
Sune Bo, Denmark, Clinical psychologist (TITEL) and external lecturer on personality psychology and psychopathology
Mickey Kongerslev, Denmark, Clinical psychologist (TITEL) and external lecturer on personality psychology and psychopathologyCheng-Yuan Lee, Ph.D is a Counselor in TaiwanMark D. Holder, received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in Psychology
Judith M. Wallace, MA, University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Ben Coleman, Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Carleton University
Chris Chapple, USA
Alireza Agha Yousefi, Ph. D., Full-time Assistant Professor of Payam-e-Noor University - Iran
Sunil Saini a research scholar and working and doing his Ph.D from Punjabi University Patiala, India
Kenneth Porter M.D. is a spiritual psychoanalyst practicing individual, group and couple psychotherapy in New York City
Dr. Kathy Singh: Founder of The Karma Centre in California
Dr. Tetsuaki Yoshimura, M.D., is a psychiatrist and lecturer at Hanazono University
Elena Konopleva, Russia, M.A. Economist-Manager in Social sphere
Dr Joseph F Ryan is a Transpersonal Counsellor in the United Kingdom
Meera Sharma is a transpersonal therapist, supervisor and trainer, working at a number of academic institutions and agencies
Henrik Rosenø, Master of Science in Engineering, DenmarkDr. Douglas Canterbury - Counts is a licensed psychologist and practicing neuropsychologist
Dr. L. N. Suman is Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health and Social Psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore, India
Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma is working as Assistant Professor, Department of Mental Health & Social Psychology at NIMHANS, Bangalore, India
Ms. Thompson is a Licensed Psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC who fuses the best of Western and Eastern wisdom in her work
Karen Trueheart, M.A., Integral Counseling Psychology, USA
Dr. Bernhard Mack, born 1948, musician, coach, teacher and psychologist, trains organisations, groups, individuals as coach and graduate therapist since 1972
Gemma Wagner, sings in concerts, teaches singing and works as holistic therapist since 20 years
Dr Sunil Sharma studied at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi before academic success took him to Europe
Reggie Pawle, Ph.D., teaches cross-cultural psychology at Kansai Gaidai University, Hirakata-shi, Japan
Archana Singh, P.G. in psychology from Banaras Hindu University, Post Graduate Diploma IN Guidance and Counseling (N.C.E.R.T.) Research Scholar Psychology University of Delhi
Keith Hulstaert is a Holistic Counsellor, EFT Practitioner, and Meditation Teacher from Melbourne, Australia
Kraskian Mujembari, M.S. of Measurement & Assessment (Psychometric), Tehran-Iran
Dr. Marcia Hermansen is Professor of Theology and Director of the Islamic World Studies program at Loyola University Chicago
Peter Fenner was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist traditions for 9 years
Tamara T. Thebert, is a Marriage and Family Therapist trainee at Golden Gate Integral Counseling Center
Margaret Petersen is a training therapist at a transpersonally oriented counseling center affiliated with California Institute of Integral Studies
Diya Nangia is currently a student at the University of Delhi pursuing her Masters in Psychology
Colette Fleuridas, Ph.D., currently a professor in the Graduate Counseling Program at Saint Mary’s College of California
Dr. Richard Sears, Psy.D., MBA (“Rev. Jisho”) is a clinical psychologist, an ordained Buddhist teacher, and a fourth degree black belt in ninjutsu
Dr. Orchin, the founder and director of Midlifefrontiers .com, is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Philadelphia
Jay Kumar, Ph.D. is an accomplished Yoga/Ayurveda/Integrative Health therapist, Vedic astrologer, Sanskrit scholar, professional motivational speaker and author
Sallie Smith, MD, a Columbia-trained, board-certified neurologist, has served on faculty at UCSF and the University of Colorado
N.S. Xavier, M.D. (USA), has been practicing psychiatry incorporating spiritual wisdom for twenty-seven years.
Dana Andrews, USA
David Peter Lawrence, specializes in monistic Kashmiri Shaivism and related areas of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and religion.
Ulrich Mohrhoff, Germany, has published numerous papers in academic journals of physics, philosophy of science, and consciousness studies.
Mukta Kaur Khalsa, USA, Director of 3HO SuperHealth
Maxine Haire, has degrees in both psychology and philosophy from Deakin University Australia.
Artist Dr. Lisa Longworth, USA, is a professional artist, counselor, university expressive arts director and entrepreneur.
Mark Franke, USA, will graduate in December of 2007 with a BA in the Humanities and a BA in Music.
NASHID "KOLEOSO" FAKHRID-DEEN, USA, is well known and respected for his willingness to follow his spirit’s direction and his soul’s timeless wisdom.
Erika Hilderbrandt, USA, is a Theatre Artist and Yoga Therapist.
Jose Parappully, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Founder Director of Sumedha Centre for Psychology and Spirituality in New Delhi, India.
Elaine Quattro, is a Marriage and Family Therapist licensed in the State of California.
Iker Puente, Barcelona, Graduated in Psychology at the Unibersity of Deusto, and in Social and Cultural Antropology at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB).
Joy Sen, Ph.D., India, completed his undergraduate studies in Architecture and his doctoral dissertation from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur.
Alzak Amlani, USA, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in San Francisco, California.
Rohit Dhawan, USA, Rohit Dhawan is a researcher and student of psychology at the City College of New York.
Mytrae Meliana, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in San Francisco.
Antoon Geels, professor in psychology of religion, Lund University, Sweden
Carlyle Smith is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Sue Michaelson, USA
Kala Ram, holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology from the University of Detroit-Mercy, Michigan, U.S.A.
Yaga Bialski, Ph.D, Canada, painter and clinical spiritual psychologist.
Kireet Joshi, appointed Chairman of the Auroville Foundation in April 1999.
Sonia Suchday, Ph.D. is the Co-Director of the Institute of Public Health Sciences
Bal Ram Singh, Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, USADivya Tripathi, Head Of Dept of Sanskrit at DAV, and Member of Center for Indic Studies , Kurukshetra University
Madhusudan Jhaveri, is Professor Emeritus at UMass Dartmouth, who has written several articles and poems on Indian culture and civilization.
V. D. Misra, is Head of the Sociology Department at Lucknow University, India.
Honorable C. M. Bhandari, is a diplomat scholar who author of several books on Indian Culture and philosophy, including Yoga Shakti.
Allah Keram Pouladi Resheri, University Of Payam Noor, Bushehr, Iran
Deirdre Quiery, combines a wealth of commercial experience, working at senior levels within the Corporate world with a passionate interest in Emotional Intelligence.
Magda Sole, Spain
Shunmugom Natarajan, Reader in Tamil, SRKV College of Arts and Sciences, Coimbatore, India
Rosa Granadillo-Schwentker, an international lecturer & facilitator, serves as faculty for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, USA.
Suneetha Kandhi, India, is an interdisciplinary psychologist with Ph.D in Psychology.
Suyasha Chattopadhyay, India, is a lecturer in English at Howrah Girl's College.
Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, is co-director of the Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence at Search Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Bruce Kerievsky, USA, has been studying and teaching Metapsychiatry, the spiritual discipline developed by Thomas Hora, M.D., for the past 40 years.
Diana Kerievsky, USA, was an analysand, student and Research Associate of Thomas Hora, M.D. for over 30 years.
DIVYA PRABHA, Canada, completed her Advanced Yoga Teacher Training at the Kripalu Yoga Ashram and was one of a handful of disciples in North America accepted by the late Swami Sri Kripalvananda.
Rainer Pervoltz, Germany, is integrates Transpersonal Psychotherapy in the framework of Gestalt Philosophy integrating the body and its energetic systems.
Juliet Rohde-Brown, USA, is an integrative clinical psychologist with a private practice in Santa Barbara.
Mihaela Sindie, Romania, Psychologist, psychotherapist for Cognitive-Behavioural and Interpersonal Psychotherapy
Dr. Kalman J. Kaplan is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, USA
Dr. Moriah Markus Kaplan received her BA and MA in psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her PhD in psychology at Boston University.
Salman Ahmad, India, is an award winning psychologist, teacher, trainer and consultant.
Nimalan Dhas, India, Activated, Awakened and Guided to the acquisition of Mastery and The Power to Guide;
Hilda Brown, USA, Founder of The Umbrella Project, is an ordained Interfaith Minister with a Masters in Spiritual Counseling.
Narinder Singh University, Patiala, India, M.A. Psychology (Gold medalist).
Chitra DhimanM. A. Psychology, PGDCP, India.
Cressida heyes, is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Philosophy at the University of Alberta, Canada.
Johanina Wikoff, USA, Ph.D, is a Tantric, somatic, and transformative relationship therapist and educator in the San Francisco bay area.
Joan Hageman, USA, Chair of Research with PSYmore Research Institute, Inc. in Tampa, Florida.
Janine Edge, Lecturer in organisational and transpersonal psychology.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and conducts scientific research on the therapeutic effects of yoga.
Aruna Jha, USA, is a Research Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Vered Hankin, USA, MA, PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology, was named "the leading storyteller of her generation" (Jewish Week).
Caroline Shola Arewa, U.K., specializes in Health and Success using the Ancient Chakra System.
Paul Sutherland, USA, founder and president of Financial & Investment Management Group, Ltd. (FIM Group), has been managing global investment portfolios since 1984.
Ariosto J. Coelho, USA, Ph.D., LMFT, is currently a multilingual Family Therapist with the South Central Youth Team of San Mateo County Mental Health Services in California.
Pnina nov, Canada, MA in expressive arts. She is an art therapist who combines dream work and art therapy.
Judith D. Wilcox, USA, is a licensed professional counselor and a trauma specialist with 34 years of experience in transpersonal and humanistic approaches to counseling and education.
Elias Capriles, Professor of Philosophy, History and Asian Art at the University of The Andes in Mérida, Venezuela.
Gabriel Cavaglion, Lecturer, Bar-Ilan University, The Dept. of Criminology, Israel.

Home Events About WCPS2008 Psychology & Spirituality Register

Gilles Deleuze, Michel Henry, Alain Badiou and François Laruelle

Immanence and Explanation from Larval Subjects I was interested to discover this review of Mullarkey’s Post-Continental Philosophy, courtesy of our friends at Perverse Egalitarianism...
I have not yet been able to read this book, but look forward to doing so. On the one hand, I find myself sympathetic to what might motivate Mullarkey to make this move. It seems to me that the target here is Platonism and Expressivism. On the one hand, I understand Platonic idealism to be any position that posits essences, forms, or substances, that condition beings without themselves being conditioned by these beings. The forms condition individuals without individuals conditioning forms. I will not here go into all the problems with this common thesis (a thesis so common that people often are not even aware they are advancing it), but simply earmark it for further discussion (much of Difference and Givenness targets precisely this idealism).
On the other hand, by expressivism I understand a variant of this Platonic idealism where one asserts the primacy of an interpretative model that all phenomena then express as variations on that model.
  • Thus, for example, Hegel is often read as an expressivist in that the meaning of any historical time period lies in a self-identical logos, such that all aspects of life are and society are expressions of this master-key.
  • Similarly, Freud is an expressivist in the sense that all roads lead back to Oedipus. We always know what the answer will be, and all psychic phenomena are variations on this one motif.
  • Finally, Levi-Strauss is an expressivist in that all mythology and social formations are treated as variations of the invariant structures of mind.
I think expressivism is a position well worth combating, especially given how common it can be in circles of those influenced by psychoanalytic theory (despite Lacan’s wide ranging critiques of such an understanding of the unconscious). However, I wonder if Mullarkey’s knife here doesn’t cut too deep.
To explain is to trace a phenomenon back to something that serves as its ground. If this review fairly represents Mullarkey’s view, all grounds disappear and we’re left simply with scintillating impressions. Exit any ideological analysis, political analysis, textual interpretation, psychoanalysis, and so on. Rather, the problem does not strike me as being that of ground, but of how ground is conceived.
In his Introduction to Sociology, Adorno makes a plea for preserving the notion of essence. If, says Adorno, capitalism is the essence of our time and of all cultural formations of our time, this isn’t because capitalism is an invariant form or logos that all phenomena express, but rather because capitalism is that system of relations and forces that allows us to comprehend why cultural formations take the form they take today. This in now way entails that these cultural formations do not themselves react back on to this system of relations… And that is the key point.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sattwic principle of light, harmony, balance

Sri Aurobindo
In the terms of the Sankhya psychology we can distinguish three types of mental individuality, —
  • that which is governed by the principle of obscurity and inertia, first-born of the Inconscience, tamasic;
  • that which is governed by a force of passion and activity, kinetic, rajasic;
  • that which is cast in the mould of the sattwic principle of light, harmony, balance.

The tamasic intelligence has its seat in the physical mind: it is inert to ideas, — except to those which it receives inertly, blindly, passively from a recognised source or authority, — obscure in their reception, unwilling to enlarge itself, recalcitrant to new stimulus, conservative and immobile; it clings to its received structure of knowledge and its one power is repetitive practicality, but it is a power limited by the accustomed, the obvious, the established and familiar and already secure; it thrusts away all that is new and likely to disturb it.

The rajasic intelligence has its main seat in the vital mind and is of two kinds: one kind is defensive with violence and passion, assertive of its mental individuality and all that is in agreement with it, preferred by its volition, adapted to its outlook, but aggressive against all that is contrary to its mental ego-structure or unacceptable to its personal intellectuality; the other kind is enthusiastic for new things, passionate, insistent, impetuous, often mobile beyond measure, inconstant and ever restless, governed in its idea not by truth and light but by the zest of intellectual battle and movement and adventure.

The sattwic intelligence is eager for knowledge, as open as it can be to it, careful to consider and verify and balance, to adjust and adapt to its view whatever confirms itself as truth, receiving all that it can assimilate, skilful to build truth in a harmonious intellectual structure: but, because its light is limited, as all mental light must be, it is unable to enlarge itself so as to receive equally all truth and all knowledge; it has a mental ego, even an enlightened one, and is determined by it in its observation, judgment, reasoning, mental choice and preference.

In most men there is a predominance of one of these qualities but also a mixture; the same mind can be open and plastic and harmonic in one direction, kinetic and vital, hasty and prejudiced and ill-balanced in another, in yet another obscure and unreceptive. This limitation by personality, this defence of personality and refusal to receive what is unassimilable, is necessary for the individual being because in its evolution, at the stage reached, it has a certain self-expression, a certain type of experience and use of experience which must, for the mind and life at least, govern nature; that for the moment is its law of being, its dharma.

This limitation of mind-consciousness by personality and of truth by mental temperament and preference must be the rule of our nature so long as the individual has not reached universality, is not yet preparing for mind-transcendence. But it is evident that this condition is inevitably a source of error and can at any moment be the cause of a falsification of knowledge, an unconscious or half-wilful self-deception, a refusal to admit true knowledge, a readiness to assert acceptable wrong knowledge as true knowledge.

This is in the field of cognition, but the same law applies to will and action. Out of ignorance a wrong consciousness is created which gives a wrong dynamic reaction to the contact of persons, things, happenings: the surface consciousness develops the habit of ignoring, misunderstanding or rejecting the suggestions to action or against action that come from the secret inmost consciousness, the psychic entity; it answers instead to unenlightened mental and vital suggestions, or acts in accordance with the demands and impulsions of the vital ego.
Here the second of the primary conditions of the evolution, the law of a separate life-being affirming itself in a world which is not-self to it, comes into prominence and assumes an immense importance. It is here that the surface vital personality or life-self asserts its dominance, and this dominance of the ignorant vital being is a principal active source of discord and disharmony, a cause of inner and outer perturbations of the life, a mainspring of wrong-doing and evil. The natural vital element in us, in so far as it is unchecked or untrained or retains its primitive character, is not concerned with truth or right consciousness or right action; it is concerned with self-affirmation, with life-growth, with possession, with satisfaction of impulse, with all satisfactions of desire.
This main need and demand of the life-self seems all-important to it; it would readily carry it out without any regard to truth or right or good or any other consideration: but because mind is there and has these conceptions, because the soul is there and has these soul-perceptions, it tries to dominate mind and get from it by dictation a sanction and order of execution for its own will of self-affirmation, a verdict of truth and right and good for its own vital assertions, impulses, desires; it is concerned with self-justification in order that it may have room for full self-affirmation. But if it can get the assent of mind, it is quite ready to ignore all these standards and set up only one standard, the satisfaction, growth, strength, greatness of the vital ego. The life-individual needs place, expansion, possession of its world, dominance and control of things and beings; it needs life-room, a space in the sun, self-assertion, survival. It needs these things for itself and for those with whom it associates itself, for its own ego and for the collective ego; it needs them for its ideas, creeds, ideals, interests, imaginations: for it has to assert these forms of I-ness and my-ness and impose them on the world around it or, if it is not strong enough to do that, it has at least to defend and maintain them against others to the best of its power and contrivance. It may try to do it by methods it thinks or chooses to think or represent as right; it may try to do it by the naked use of violence, ruse, falsehood, destructive aggression, crushing of other life-formations: the principle is the same whatever the means or the moral attitude.
It is not only in the realm of interests, but in the realm of ideas and the realm of religion that the vital being of man has introduced this spirit and attitude of self-affirmation and struggle and the use of violence, oppression and suppression, intolerance, aggression; it has imposed the principle of life-egoism on the domain of intellectual truth and the domain of the spirit. Into its self-affirmation the self-asserting life brings in hatred and dislike towards all that stands in the way of its expansion or hurts its ego; it develops as a means or as a passion or reaction of the life-nature cruelty, treachery and all kinds of evil: its satisfaction of desire and impulse takes no account of right and wrong, but only of the fulfilment of desire and impulse. For this satisfaction it is ready to face the risk of destruction and actuality of suffering; for what it is pushed by Nature to aim at is not self-preservation alone, but life-affirmation and life-satisfaction, formulation of life-force and life-being.
It does not follow that this is all that the vital personality is in its native composition or that evil is its very nature. It is not primarily concerned with truth and good, but it can have the passion for truth and good as it has, more spontaneously, the passion for joy and beauty. In all that is developed by the life-force there is developed at the same time a secret delight somewhere in the being, a delight in good and a delight in evil, a delight in truth and a delight in falsehood, a delight in life and an attraction to death, a delight in pleasure and a delight in pain, in one's own suffering and the suffering of others, but also in one's own joy and happiness and good and the joy and happiness and good of others. For the force of life-affirmation affirms alike the good and the evil: it has its impulses of help and association, of generosity, affection, loyalty, self-giving; it takes up altruism as it takes up egoism, sacrifices itself as well as destroys others; and in all its acts there is the same passion for life-affirmation, the same force of action and fulfilment.
This character of vital being and its trend of existence in which what we term good and evil are items but not the mainspring, is evident in subhuman life; in the human being, since there a mental, moral and psychic discernment has developed, it is subjected to control or to camouflage, but it does not change its character. The vital being and its life-force and their drive towards self-affirmation are, in the absence of an overt action of soul-power and spiritual power, Atmashakti, Nature's chief means of effectuation, and without its support neither mind nor body can utilise their possibilities or realise their aim here in existence. It is only if the inner or true vital being replaces the outer life-personality that the drive of the vital ego can be wholly overcome and the life-force become the servant of the soul and a powerful instrumentation for the action of our true spiritual being.
This then is the origin and nature of error, falsehood, wrong and evil in the consciousness and will of the individual; a limited consciousness growing out of nescience is the source of error, a personal attachment to the limitation and the error born of it the source of falsity, a wrong consciousness governed by the life-ego the source of evil. But it is evident that their relative existence is only a phenomenon thrown up by the cosmic Force in its drive towards evolutionary self-expression, and it is there that we have to look for the significance of the phenomenon. For the emergence of the life-ego is, as we have seen, a machinery of cosmic Nature for the affirmation of the individual, for his self-disengagement from the indeterminate mass substance of the subconscient, for the appearance of a conscious being on a ground prepared by the Inconscience; the principle of life-affirmation of the ego is the necessary consequence.
The individual ego is a pragmatic and effective fiction, a translation of the secret self into the terms of surface consciousness, or a subjective substitute for the true self in our surface experience: it is separated by ignorance from other-self and from the inner Divinity, but it is still pushed secretly towards an evolutionary unification in diversity; it has behind itself, though finite, the impulse to the infinite. But this in the terms of an ignorant consciousness translates itself into the will to expand, to be a boundless finite, to take everything it can into itself, to enter into everything and possess it, even to be possessed if by that it can feel itself satisfied and growing in or through others or can take into itself by subjection the being and power of others or get thereby a help or an impulse for its life-affirmation, its life-delight, its enrichment of its mental, vital or physical existence.
Page 623 Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > The Life Divine Volume-18 > The Origin And Remedy Of Falsehood, Error, Wrong And Evil

Heraclitus is the first and the most consistent teacher of the law of relativity

Sri Aurobindo
Heraclitus is the first and the most consistent teacher of the law of relativity; it is the logical result of his primary philosophical concepts. Since all is one in its being and many in its becoming, it follows that everything must be one in its essence. Night and day, life and death, good and evil can only be different aspects of the same absolute reality. Life and death are in fact one, and we may say from different points of view that all death is only a process and change of life or that all life is only an activity of death. Really both are one energy whose activity presents to us a duality of aspects. From one point of view we are not, for our existence is only a constant mutation of energy; from another we are, because the being in us is always the same and sustains our secret identity. So too, we can only speak of a thing as good or evil, just or unjust, beautiful or ugly from a purely relative point of view, because we adopt a particular standpoint or have in view some practical end or temporarily valid relation. He gives the example of “the sea, water purest and impurest”, their fine element to the fish, abominable and undrinkable to man. And does not this apply to all things? — they are the same always in reality and assume their qualities and properties because of our standing-point in the universe of becoming, the nature of our seeing and the texture of our minds. All things circle back to the eternal unity and in their beginning and end are the same; it is only in the arc of becoming that they vary in themselves and from each other, and there they have no absoluteness to each other. Night and day are the same; it is only the nature of our vision and our standing-point on the earth and our relations of earth and sun that create the difference. What is day to us, is to others night.
Because of this insistence on the relativity of good and evil, Heraclitus is thought to have enunciated some kind of supermoralism; but it is well to see carefully to what this supermoralism of Heraclitus really amounts. Heraclitus does not deny the existence of an absolute; but for him the absolute is to be found in the One, in the Divine, — not the gods, but the one supreme Divinity, the Fire. It has been objected that he attributes relativity to God, because he says that the first principle is willing and yet not willing to be caned by the name of Zeus. But surely this is to misunderstand him altogether. The name Zeus expresses only the relative human idea of the Godhead; therefore while God accepts the name, He is not bound or limited by it. All our concepts of Him are partial and relative; “He is named according to the pleasure of each.” This is nothing more nor less than the truth proclaimed by the Vedas, “One existent the sages call by many names.” Brahman is willing to be called Vishnu, and yet he is not willing, because he is also Brahma and Maheshwara and all the gods and the world and all principles and all that is, and yet not any of these things, neti neti. As men approach him, so he accepts them. But the One to Heraclitus as to the Vedantin is absolute.
This is quite clear from all his sayings; day and night, good and evil are one, because they are the One in their essence and in the One the distinctions we make between them disappear. There is a Word, a Reason in all things, a Logos, and that Reason is one; only' men by the relativeness of their mentality turn it each into his personal thought and way of looking at things and live according to this variable relativity. It follows that there is an absolute, a divine way of looking at things. “To God all things are good and just, but men hold some things to be good, others unjust.” There is then an absolute good, an absolute beauty, an absolute justice of which all things are the relative expression. There is a divine order in the world; each thing fulfils its nature according to its place in the order and in its place and symmetry in the one Reason of things is good, just and beautiful precisely because it fulfils that Reason according to the eternal measures. To take an example, the world war may be regarded as an evil by some, a sheer horror of carnage, to others because of the new possibilities it opens to mankind, it may seem a good. It is at once good and evil. But that is the relative view; in its entirety, in its fulfilment in each and all of its circumstances of a divine purpose, a divine justice, a divine force executing itself in the large reason of things, it is from the absolute point of view good and just — to God, not to man.
Does it follow that the relative viewpoint has no validity at all? Not for a moment. On the contrary, it must be the expression, proper to each mentality according to the necessity of its nature and standpoint, of the divine Law. Heraclitus says that plainly; “Fed are all human laws by one, the divine.” That sentence ought to be quite sufficient to protect Heraclitus against the charge of antinomianism. True, no human law is the absolute expression of the divine justice, but it draws its validity, its sanction from that and is valid for its purpose, in its place, in its proper time, has its relative necessity. Even though men’s notions of good and justice vary in the mutations of the becoming, yet human good and justice persist in the stream of things, preserve a measure. Heraclitus admits relative standards, but as a thinker he is obliged to go beyond them. All is at once one and many, an absolute and a relative, and all the relations of the many are relativities, yet are fed by, go back to, persist by that in them which is absolute.

Zizek famously argues that a certain Spinozism is the ideology of late capitalism

The problem is that late capitalism insists and relies upon the very equation of desire with interests that parenting used to based on rejecting. In a culture in which the ‘paternal’ concept of duty has been subsumed into the ‘maternal’ imperative to enjoy, it can seem that the parent is failing in their duty if they in any way impede their children’s absolute right to enjoyment. Partly this is an effect of the increasing requirement that both parents work; in these conditions, when the parent sees the child very little, the tendency will often be to refuse to occupy the ‘oppressive’ function of telling the child what to do. The parental disavowal of this role of is doubled at the level of cultural production by the refusal of 'gatekeepers' to do anything but give audiences what they already (appear to) want. The concrete question is: if a return to the paternal superego - the stern father in the home, Reithian superciliousness in broadcasting - is neither possible nor desirable, then how are we to move beyond the culture of monotonous moribund conformity that results from a refusal to challenge or educate? A question as massive as this cannot of course be answered in one post, and what follows here will require a great deal of further elaboration. In brief, though, I believe that it is Spinoza who offers the best resources for thinking through what a 'paternalism without the father' might look like.

In Tarrying with the Negative, Zizek famously argues that a certain Spinozism is the ideology of late capitalism. Zizek believes that Spinoza’s rejection of deontology for an ethics based around the concept of health is allegedly flat with capitalism’s amoral affective engineering. The famous example here is Spinoza’s reading of the myth of the Fall and the foundation of Law. On Spinoza’s account, God does not condemn Adam for eating the apple because the action is wrong; he tells him that he should not consume the apple because it will poison him. For Zizek, this dramatizes the termination of the Father function. An act is wrong not because Daddy says so; Daddy only says it is ‘wrong’ because performing the act will be harmful to us. In Zizek’s view, Spinoza’s move both deprives the grounding of Law in a sadistic act of scission (the cruel cut of castration), at the same time as it denies the ungrounded positing of agency in an act of pure volition, in which the subject assumes responsibility for everything.

In fact, it is Spinoza has immense resources for analysing the affective regime of late capitalism: its dissolving of agency in a phantasmagoric haze of psychic and physical intoxicants, its blitzing of the nervous system with images. (Spinoza remains the pre-eminent philosopher of image addiction). It is precisely Spinoza’s avoiding of the heroic Oedipal dramaturgy to which Zizek is so attached that enables him to give a plausible account of how responsibility can be attained rather than assumed. Spinoza’s diagnosing of the Father-God of theism as an anthropomorphic fantasy anticipates the psychoanalytic insight that the infant phantasmatically posits a castrating Father figure in order to cover over the impossibility of total enjoyment (‘If it were not for him, I’d have everything I want’). (And far from being the One hallucinated by Hegelian dementia, the Spinozist God is better understood as a desolated Zero. ‘The true formula of atheism is that God is unconscious,’ Lacan declares; and Spinoza’s God is exactly that: not a distributed, pantheistic omnipresence, but the cosmos as catatonic mechanism.) The most important difference between Spinoza and Lacan does indeed concern the question of pathology. If Spinoza aims to cure the individual of their addictions and fixations, Lacan believes that they can only be managed or sublimated. Spinozist joy consists in a calm contemplation of the impersonal mechanism of the cosmos, including your self; very different from Lacanian jouissance. But the idea that pathology can only ever be sublimated, never eliminated, that the subject can only ever circulate around objects that will never satisfy it, but which it can never give up pursuing – is, if not the ideology of late capitalism, then its metapyschology.

Late capitalism certainly articulates many of its injunctions via an appeal to (a certain version of) health. The banning of smoking in public places, the relentless monstering of working class diet on programmes like ‘You Are What You Eat’, do appear to indicate that we are already in the presence of a paternalism without the Father. It is not that smoking is ‘wrong’, it is that it will lead to our failing to lead long and enjoyable lives. But there are limits to this emphasis on good health: mental health and intellectual development barely feature at all, for instance. (When will there be a Channel 4 programme called ‘You Are What You Read?’) What we see instead is a reductive, hedonic model of health which is all about ‘feeling good’. To tell people how to lose weight, or how to better decorate their neo-liberal burrow, is acceptable; but to call for any kind of cultural improvement is to be oppressive and elitist. The alleged elitism and oppression cannot consist in the notion that a third party might know someone’s interest better than they know it themselves, since, presumably smokers, or those hectored by coprophiliac crank Gillian McKeith are deemed either to be unaware of their interests or incapable of acting in accordance with them. No: the problem is that only certain types of interest are deemed relevant, since they reflect values that are held to be consensual. Losing weight, decorating your house and improving your appearance belong to the 'consentimental' regime of what Adam Curtis calls the ‘empire of the self’. In an excellent interview – which I’m indebted to reader Daryl Hutchings for drawing to my attention to – Curtis berates the way in which contemporary media is increasingly a machinery that is organised around the manipulation of affect.

TV now tells you what to feel. It doesn't tell you what to think anymore. From EastEnders to reality format shows, you're on the emotional journey of people - and through the editing, it gently suggests to you what is the agreed form of feeling. "Hugs and Kisses", I call it.
I nicked that off Mark Ravenhill who wrote a very good piece which said that if you analyse television now it's a system of guidance - it tells you who is having the Bad Feelings and who is having the Good Feelings. And the person who is having the Bad Feelings is redeemed through a "hugs and kisses" moment at the end. It really is a system not of moral guidance, but of emotional guidance.
Morality has been replaced by feeling.
In the ‘empire of the self’ everyone ‘feels the same’ without ever escaping a condition of solipsism. ‘What people suffer from,’ Curtis claims,
is being trapped within themselves - in a world of individualism everyone is trapped within their own feelings, trapped within their own imaginations. Our job as public service broadcasters is to take people beyond the limits of their own self, and until we do that we will carry on declining. Posted by mark at November 25, 2007 02:45 PM TrackBack 10:02 AM