Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sri Aurobindo comes at a very crucial moment in the history of thought

Through sheer human efforts and by mere aspiration
Sri Aurobindo's influence by Tusar N Mohapatra

Sri Aurobindo's extensive mapping of consciousness and his life-long endeavour to fathom the overhead regions through poetry and yoga are seminal contributions. His emphasis on attainability of highest possible perfection through sheer human efforts and by mere aspiration is a great message of hope. Further, the adventure of consciousness is not aimed at isolated spiritual salvation. Rather, a harmonious collective living is the ultimate destination. By translating this ideal to practical terms, Sri Aurobindo draws an elaborate blueprint concerning the ideal of human unity leading to the establishment of a World-Union.

Sri Aurobindo comes at a very crucial moment in the history of thought when Marxist materialism, Nietzschean nihilism and Freudian vitalism were popular and fashionable. Besides, phenomenology and existentialism had their run along-side him. On the whole, along with the new-fangled science and Theosophy, these new philosophical formulations fermented enough confusion among the elite. In a way, the disparate positions arrived at in Western thought find their synthesis in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. By aligning them with the ancient Indian wisdom, he comes up with an integral vision that breathes universality as well as contemporarity.

Thus, Kant's sublime, Hegel's absolute, Schopenhauer's will, Kierkegaard's passion, Marx's matter, Darwin's evolution, Nietzsche's overman, Bergson's élan vital, all find their due representation in Sri Aurobindo's grand exposition. His thought successfully overarchs cultural as well as religious chasms. S. K. Maitra and Haridas Chaudhuri are first among the academicians to discern the import of Sri Aurobindo's integral philosophy. D. P. Chattopadhyay wrote a seminal treatise juxtaposing Sri Aurobindo and Marx to examine their utopian prophecies. [ Wikipedia Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 2:54 AM ] Wednesday, 20 December, 2006 Posted by Tusar N Mohapatra at 1:17 PM


Saturday, February 21, 2009 Zizek and Rorty on the Real

An interesting aspect in Slavoj Zizek’s writings is the way he says something about and uses the concept of “the Real,” yet the Real he describes is similar to the reality that Rorty describes which philosophers and other beings have tried to grasp. For Rorty the real or reality is a philosophically empty concept. We have different candidates for the Real: God, Matter, What Is, Truth, Nature, Knowledge, but the debates about it are inconclusive and it seems to just serve as an unknowable ultimate justifier for our beliefs. Rorty’s pragmatic solution is to stop talking about it.

Zizek’s Real from Lacan is a gap, lack or absence, in a way not there, yet it’s incorporated into a psychoanalytical-philosophical understanding that gives it a useful role in helping us to understand ourselves and the world. The Real as a lack or absence lay at the center of our symbolic order and is why we can’t create a finished intellectual system. It is that uncanny, indefinable attractive something that causes certain objects to attract and entrance us. It is the trauma around which we construct our selves and repeat our behavioral patterns which contradictorily both offer to resolve the trauma and help us to avoid confronting it. So Rorty says reality as the really real is not there and not a good use of our time to think about. Zizek says yes, it isn’t there in the way people want – a substantial something, a graspable bedrock – but in its absence it is there and has a determining presence which we see in its effects. He analyzes its qualities of attractiveness and repulsiveness. It’s the psychology of what ultimately isn’t there but can’t be gotten rid of.

There’s an Eastern spiritual version of this. The ultimate stuff is paradoxical: The Tao, Nirvana, Atman, the Non-Dual are ineffable and yet named. We try to grasp It or surrender to It but the very effort to know It causes It not to be known. It is beyond conceptuality. But the Eastern practices do believe there is a final attainment or resolution, whereas Zizek and Lacan don’t think there is. Posted by Jeff Meyerhoff at 1:37 PM 13 comments

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