Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jung wrote for the Westerner and Sri Aurobindo & The Mother for Humankind

Sanatana Dharma XXVI—the Four luminous Powers and the Story of Creation
Mirror of Tomorrow Comment posted by: Joan Price

Jung wrote for the Westerner and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for Humankind. Sri Aurobindo emphasized the national spirit of India and Jung of the West. Why, then do we wish to pit them against one another?

Yes, Jung was an empiricist, because he knew Western empiricists would listenn to nothing else. But if one would read his "VII Sermones ad Mortuous," "Memories, Dreams and Reflections," and the recently published "The Red Book," one would gain some insight into his spiritual and mystical side.

Mirror of Tomorrow :: Jung, Philemon and the Fourfold Psyche—by ...
I am always in awe with the range of the Mother's and Sri Aurobindo's consciousness, .... As with Sri Aurobindo's soul-force and the fourfold personality, ...

Mirror of Tomorrow :: Poetry Time: 28 November 2009—in Just Spring ...
Poetry Time: 21 November 2009—Sri Aurobindo's Rose of God and its Poetic Appreciation by RY Deshpande · A case of mistaken paternity?—by Mahir Ali ...

India 2009 Thanksgiving, Fulbright Style
I introduced Sri Aurobindo's social philosophy and explained the challenge ... After all, in The Human Cycle Sri Aurobindo writes, "The possible godhead of ...

The Metamorphosis of a Sadhak-Scholar -- by Raman Reddy
24 Nov 2009 by Raman Reddy On the one hand, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given us absolute certainty with regard to the general direction we should be heading in, that is, if we don't want to get into unnecessary difficulties. On the other hand, ...

Aurora Mirabilis: Barin Ghose, Dilip Kumar Roy, and Anna Bogenholm ...
Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo & The Mother. ... That is why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have so often advised us not to play with Doubt, ...

Your own Path - ASPIRATION
As Jordi and Barin, point out, Mother and Sri Aurobindo had a lot of ... Sri Aurobindo also admonished in one of his letters to a sadhak not to be ...

Silensing the mind - ASPIRATION
Sri Aurobindo stressed on a silent mind and a desire less vital to begin with for the ... Sri Aurobindo on several occasions discussed the matter with his ...

A Vision of Sujata Nahar « The Mother's Lasso
24 Nov 2009 She had seen it in 1907-1908 or may be even before that period. She didn't have the experiences of Savitri then. Mother's experiences were noted down by Sri Aurobindo much later. I don't recall well but Mother read Savitri much later. ...

Sri Aurobindo on shadow and light
19 Nov 2009 by Michelle It is up to you to know how to use one to realise the other.” - Sri Aurobindo. Posted in quotes Tagged: Indian freedom fighters, Indian nationalists, Indian philosophers, Indian poets, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo quotes, yogis.

The Triple Status of Supermind « Sri Aurobindo Studies
26 Nov 2009 by sriaurobindostudies Sri Aurobindo Studies. Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. « Supermind Manifests Defined Creation through Space and Time. The Triple Status of Supermind. By sriaurobindostudies. It is quite clear that the power of creation that, ...

Fwd:-The Sunlit Path: November 15, 2009
19 Nov 2009 by RAHUL GANDHI SRI AUROBINDO CHAIR OF INTEGRAL STUDIES SARDAR PATEL UNIVERSITY Dear all, I am happy to send herewith the November 15,2009 issue of " The Sunlit Path", e magazine of Sri Aurobindo Chair of Integral Studies, Sardar Patel University

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Harman’s thesis is that objects only relate to one another selectively, never exhaustively

An Un-canny Ontology
This blog is an attempt to work through my ideas of the un-canny and how they fit into ontology.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In a couple of recent posts Levi has developed his notion that objects relate to each other via translation. This means for onticology that no two objects directly encounter each other, but that instead objects - and specifically 2 or more objects - inter-act through the process of interpretation of differences.In answer to a couple of questions of mine, Levi states:
If it helps to visualize what is going on here, just think in terms of black boxes: actant1 (input) —-> actant2 (black box) —-> product (output). That’s all there is to it. Think about your phone. You have an input (electrical pulses), a black box (the phone itself), and the product (the sounds that come out of the receiver).

Therefore translation takes an actant (or object), interprets it, adds something new to it, and as a result produces something new. Another great example of this would be the process of photosynthesis. As Levi lays out in an older post:
Think about photosynthesis. Here we have photons of sunlight, the leaf and its photosynthetic cells, and the sugar produces. The leaf “translates” the photons of sunlight and produces something new: the complex sugars. There is no resemblance or identity between the photons of light and these complex sugars. Rather that sunlight becomes something new in passing through the medium of the photosynthetic cells.

So far I completely understand and agree with Levi's use of translation (I guess this is also Latour's, as well). But where I struggle, especially after Levi was kind enough to explain this concept even further, is: what exactly happens during translation? What is translation? And why do some things get translated and others do not?

Translation is more than a simple replication. Translation always involves a certain degree of interpretation in which what is inputted is always changed or transformed - from photons of light to complex sugars. Objects translate each other, they change each other without encountering each other directly, which means that objects first and foremost recognize each other.

For leafs to translate photons of light into complex sugars, they must recognize the photons of light as photons of light. Just like we have to recognize the word unheimlich as German in order to translate it, objects must recognize other objects in order to translate them. In other words, the leaf doesn't attempt to translate any and all objects into complex sugars, but to some degree sees (not literally) the photons of light as being translatable. But even this recognition adds confusion, as we can now say that objects predict, expect, or anticipate other objects - they recognize potential. Posted by NrG at 6:27 PM Labels: , , , , , , , , 1 comments: NrG said... Steven Shaviro's response to my post: November 25, 2009 5:32 AM

Translation and Information from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

The point is that there is always more possibilities open to any object than those actualized in any particular relation the object enters into. In many respects, then, Harman’s claim can be understood in counterfactual terms. One of his key points regarding the inexhaustibility of objects pertains to the inexhaustibility of their possible relations. If objects are always in excess of or more than their relations, if they only relate to one another under particular aspects or in terms of “sensuous vicars”, then this is because there is always an excess of other relations they could enter into under different aspects.

I hope to expand on this a bit in the near future in terms of the sorts of transcendental illusions generated through the process of translation, giving transcendental illusion not an epistemological grounding restricted to thought or the human-world gap, but an ontological grounding.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We are embodied and therefore ourselves causal agents

Discussion About Knowledge and Causality from Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects

Hume tried to reduce questions of being to questions of sensation or experience. Everything had to be traced back to experience. For Hume causality is just a constant conjunction of sensations. Kant shared Hume’s premise that there is no knowledge apart from sensibility, but noted that sensibility alone could never give us the idea of necessity. Paraphrasing Kant’s famous statement, “while it is true that all knowledge begins with experience, and that knowledge is impossible apart from experience, it does not follow that all knowledge arises from experience.” If we want to understand why experience or sensation alone is inadequate for grounding the relations of necessity asserted in causal judgments, we need only look at the logic of the lower portion of Aristotle’s square of opposition. Quite frankly I’m shocked that it took nearly two thousand years after Aristotle developed the square of opposition for philosophy to arrive at Hume’s skeptical conclusions.
From the observation that sensation alone cannot ground relations of necessity in causality, and that experience is all we have to go on, he inferred that the idea of necessity comes not from sensibility but is contributed by mind. Like Hume, Kant holds that causality is a constant conjunction of sensations. Unlike Hume, he argues that minds contributes the category of causal necessity that links these sensations. The thesis that judgments of causality are judgments about the constant conjunction of sensations is positivism.
Here’s the problem: The concept of causality and knowledge producing practices become incoherent if causality is understood as a constant conjunction of sensations. This for three main reasons:
First, outside of astronomy we very seldom encounter a constant conjunction of sense-events, yet we still hold that causal relations are functioning in the world unobserved. Sex, for example, doesn’t inevitably lead to conception, but without sex (setting aside artificial insemination) conception cannot take place. Antibiotics don’t inevitably get rid of an infection, but we still hold that antibiotics have the power to kill infections. If we take seriously the thesis that causal claims are constant conjunctions of sense-events we would be forced to reject the thesis that sex, antibiotics, and many things besides have causal powers.

Second, many events are constantly conjoined in experience, but we hold that they do not possess a causal relation to one another. I get up before the sun rises and make a cup of coffee for myself. The sun then rises. Why am I not led to the conclusion that making coffee causes the sun to rise? It might be argued that I do not assert a causal relation here “because there have been occasions where you haven’t made coffee before the sun rises, yet the sun still rose.” However, returning to our first problem with positivism or the thesis that causality is a constant conjunction of sense-events, we see this doesn’t work. Why? Because the failure of a consequent to occur after the antecedent occurs is not grounds for rejecting a causal relation. The antibiotic is taken (antecedent) and the sickness does not go away. Yet we do not, on these grounds, arrive at the conclusion that there is no relation between the antecedent and the consequent. In short, the positivist theory of causal relations doesn’t allow us to distinguish genuinely related sense-events from unrelated conjunctions of sense-events. This is true even under the Kantian model.
Third, the thesis that causal statements are simply constant conjunctions of sensations does not explain why scientific experimentation is necessary. If causality is a constant conjunction of sensations then the idea of engaging in experiments in a controlled and isolated setting makes little or no sense. What would be gained from such a strange activity?
Bhaskar’s thesis is that the problem with the empiricist thesis is that it conflates causality with sense-experience, when in fact, the two are very different things. Recall the first argument: it is possible for antecedents to occur without the consequent occurring, yet for there to still be a causal relationship between the two terms. What is being said here? In our practice we are saying that the causal mechanism is independent of 1) whether or not we experience its consequent, and 2) whether or not the consequent takes place as an event in nature.
In other words, we have three terms: The causal mechanism, natural events that may or may not be experienced by anyone, and experiences. The sense-data empiricist tries to collapse the first two into the third. The problem is that if we do this we are unable to explain 1) how it is possible for something to exercise its causal powers without producing the accompanying natural event, and 2) how it is possible for something to exercise its causal powers without us experiencing it. In other words, this model, according to Bhaskar, fails to distinguish the real, the actual, and the empirical, instead trying to collapse the other two into the third.
Here we can finally return to the question “why is scientific experimentation necessary?” Bhaskar’s answer to this question spins on a distinction between open and closed systems. According to Bhaskar, if it is possible for 1) an antecedent to be triggered without being actualized in a natural event, or 2) an antecedent to be actualized in experience without producing the consequent event, then this is because most causal mechanisms function in open systems where other causal factors intervene, overdetermining the event. As a result, the other causal factors prevent the causal mechanism from actualizing itself in a natural event or an experience for an observer. This is the reason, contends Bhaskar, that it is necessary to engage in experimental activity. Experiment creates a closed, artificial system allowing the inquirer to trigger the causal mechanism to determine what consequent it produces without the intervention of other causal mechanisms.
So returning to Bhaskar’s question “what must the world be like for knowledge to be possible?” we now have a thumbnail sketch of an answer to this question. First, it is necessary to distinguish between the real, the actual, and the sensed. Second, it is necessary to distinguish between causal mechanisms, natural events, and sense-events. Third it is necessary to distinguish between open and closed systems. The ontological dimension of Bhaskar’s epistemological problem lies in the transcendental claim that the condition under which science is possible is the existence of causal mechanisms that can function or act without producing a corresponding natural event or consequent. It is only on these grounds, argues Bhaskar, that 1) our engagement in scientific experimentation, and 2) our claim that certain entities like antibiotics have causal powers even when they fail to successfully cure illness are intelligible or coherent. Experiment creates a controlled and isolated environment in which causal mechanisms can be triggered without the interference of other causal mechanisms. When or if these mechanisms are found they are then accorded the status of “transfactuality”, which is to say they are treated as functioning in the ordinary world of open systems even when they do not actualize themselves in an event.

These are specifically ontological claims about the nature of the world, not epistemological claims about how we come to know the world. Without these ontological claims, argues Bhaskar, we can’t render our epistemology intelligible.
Before wrapping this up there are two crucial points to be made:
First, the ontological claim that causal mechanisms exist and that it is possible for causal mechanisms to act without being actualized in a natural event makes no claim as to what causal mechanisms exist. In addition to the existence of these causal mechanisms, Bhaskar argues that these mechanisms must be differentiated, structured, and stratefied (more on that another time). Finally, he argues (and this gives Harman fits because he’s an actualist, I’m not sure where I shake down on this issue though I tend towards potentialism) that these causal mechanisms must have powers (capacities, “able-to-do’s”) that can go unactualized. The discovery of what causal mechanisms exist, their differentiation, their structure, and their stratification is the responsibility not of philosophy, but of actual experimental inquiry. All the transcendental argument purports to demonstrate is that causal mechanisms exist (because knowledge exists) and that these causal mechanisms are mind-independent and continue to function regardless of whether any human perceives them.
Second, within the domain of experimental inquiry the claim that such and such an entity is a causal mechanism is not infallible. It can turn out that subsequent inquiry shows that such and such a claim that “x is a causal mechanism” was, in fact, mistaken. All the transcendental realist is committed to is that causal mechanisms exist and can function without being actualized in natural events. He is not committed to the claim that specific knowledge-claims about causal mechanisms are infallible or that we have direct access to these mechanisms. Getting at the causal mechanisms is, for Bhaskar, hard work. It requires the laborious construction of closed systems that allow for the causal mechanism to be triggered, producing both a natural event and a sensible event independent of intervening causal mechanisms in open systems where the contribution of the causal mechanism being sought is ordinary disguised or mute in its functioning.

Here I think we get at one of the central failings of traditional epistemologies. For whatever reason they begin from the premise of a passive observer that simply has sensations that it links in some way or another. What is missing in this intellectualist model of knowledge acquisition is the work it takes to produce salient experience. Basically, what is missed is the crucial role that the fact that we are embodied (and therefore ourselves causal agents), that we act on the world, that we use instruments to trigger these mechanisms, and that we carefully build closed systems to trigger events. But here’s the central point: We strive to create closed systems that allow us to trigger the causal mechanisms we’re searching for, but no system is entirely closed and subsequent experimental inquiry might reveal that there were intervening causal mechanisms that led us to misinterpret the triggers. In other words, Bhaskar’s position is fallibilist, allowing for the possibility of error.
Alright, that’s enough for now. What do you all think? I’m still working through Bhaskar’s arguments myself, but I confess I find them deeply appealing and convincing.

Sartre and Political Philosophy from Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects

Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason is, I think, one of the most unjustly neglected works in political theory. I’m really not sure why this is or what happened here. There is, of course, the infamous Levi-Strauss review. And the language of the text is barbarous (but what text in Continental philosophy isn’t?). And I’m certainly aware that the work is prized highly by Jameson, Badiou, Bourdieu, and Deleuze and Guattari. Nonetheless, it seems like a text that somehow fell through the cracks, never having the impact or hearing it deserved. With any luck there will be a resurgence of interest in the work.

My love of it has always been because of the manner in which it conceptualizes groups in fusion and the practico-inert. With neo-Marxist theory, especially that coming out of the Althusserian school, I’ve always felt that there’s too little focus on group formation and too much emphasis on critical breaks and whatnot. I’m not sure how social structures are to be changed without flourishing group formations or the formation of subject-groups. But if you begin paying attention to questions of group formation, then all sorts of questions arise as to how groups are formed and maintain themselves. I don’t see these questions really being posed at all in contemporary theory. As a result, what you get is a critique of reigning social conditions, how capital functions, ideology, and whatnot, but you don’t really get much in the way of an account of praxis as to how these “structures” might be changed. This is, in part, exactly what Sartre is trying to do in The Critique of Dialectical Reason. While he certainly develops a critique of the contemporary world, his mode of analysis is squarely focused on questions of praxis or how group formations (what he calls “subject-groups”, think Marx’s thesis that the proletariat is the “subject”) come into being and take of the force of transforming “structures”. This is a very different sort of question than the critical question or the question of ideology. Deleuze and Guattari try to complete this project in Anti-Oedipus, yet their nods at Sartre and his subject-groups are far too impressionistic to really provide much in the way of a well developed theory of praxis.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Roy Bhaskar’s A Realist Philosophy of Science is a foundational text for speculative realist ontology

A Brief Remark on Critique from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

Similarly, if Levi-Strauss is a “critical” philosopher, this is because he shows how certain ethnographic phenomena are dependent upon certain structures of thought and language (the famous structures). If Derrida is a critical philosopher, then this is not because he shows how “the conditions of possibility are also the conditions of impossibility” (though he shows this too), but more fundamentally because he shows how “things” like differance, arche-writing, trace, etc., are conditions for manifestation or phenomenality or texts.

Foucault is a critical philosopher because he shows how power and discourse are conditions for the regimes of the visible and articulable within a punctualized historical framework. And, of course, the phenomenologists are critical philosophers as they show how a particular phenomena is dependent on a constitution and giving through intuition (though contemporary phenomenology has moved far beyond these beginnings). [...]

No, a call to reject the model of critique is instead a call to reject the form of the Kantian argument whereby philosophy is to investigate the relationship between a subject and an object, our mode of cognition of objects, as if our access to objects were exhaustive of what objects are. Here the argument would be that this mode of philosophizing conflates two distinct questions: the question of our access to objects and the question of what objects are. There are all sorts of problems with this conflation– and I’ll outline a number of them in The Democracy of Objects –but in the meantime I cannot recommend highly enough Roy Bhaskar’s A Realist Philosophy of Science which, in many respects, is a foundational text for speculative realist ontology.

If the anti-realists are really serious about their positions, if they’re really serious about being “critical” in the ordinary language sense of the term, then they’ll take the time to actually read through Bhaskar’s arguments and work through them. In the absence of such a challenging encounter, I cannot but feel that the so called “critical philosophers” (in the precise philosophical sense of the term) are not repeating a dogma (in the worst possible sense of the term) of the last 300 years of philosophy, rather than really advancing a critical argument.

Downgoing– The Democracy of Objects from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects

The Democracy of Objects: An Essay in Object-Oriented Ontology
Projected Table of Contents
1. Introduction– What is the relation between relations and relata? The relation between relations and relata as a key problem in contemporary epistemology and ontology as a result of the anti-realist turn which argues that philosophy should interrogate our mode of cognition of objects rather than objects themselves (i.e., our relation to objects); The problem with relational conceptions of being; realism as a four letter word, the difference between realist epistemology, anti-realist epistemology, anti-realist ontology, and realist ontology; not your daddy’s realism; a respectful nod to Lee Braver; outline of the book.
2. Copernican Revolutions– What is humanism?; A diagnosis of the Ptolemaic orientation of contemporary philosophy; the call for a true Copernican ontology, arguments for a transcendental realism; the difference between transcendental realism, empirical realism, and transcendental idealism; the problem with epistemological and ontological relationism. Here I will rework a number of Bhaskar’s arguments for realist ontology while distinguishing my ontology and, more broadly, object-oriented ontology from Bhaskar’s position. In addition to this I’ll probably take up some of Harman’s critique of the arguments of transcendental idealism as well. What is a transcendental argument? Transcendental realism and transcendental idealism; blackboxes. Surprise. [...]

7. Objects of Interpretation: Latour’s thesis that all objects interpret one another, not just humans interpreting the world about them or texts interpreting texts; the theory of translation among split or withdrawn objects; Doctrine of black boxes; the “withdrawal” of objects. Basically an account of what happens when objects interact with one another and how no object is a vehicle for other objects in-forming another object through a transparent, frictionless medium; entropy and work; the problem of ports and firewalls or how do objects communicate?; the doctrine of selectivity or “not all objects communicate!”

Levi’s Table of Contents from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek

And in the meantime, I agree with him that people in our vicinity ought to be reading Roy Bhaskar’s A Realist Philosophy of Science more seriously and more frequently. When a book still feels fresh at age 35, it’s a good sign. [...]

One of the thrills of authors such as Bhaskar and DeLanda (who admires Bhaskar a great deal) is that they give a rather different story in which it is the anti-realist alternative that looks fossilized and oppressive and in need of being left behind. [...]

Hence the great value of Lee Braver’s A Thing of This World, which with all the candor required by the present situation, pretty much says: “yup, continental philosophy is an anti-realist movement all the way.” And though in my view Braver ought to be a lot angrier about that fact, I think he sizes up the situation perfectly well. (I disagree on his big gap between early and late Heidegger, and also disagree with the near-total exclusion of Husserl from his history, and also with the celebration of Foucault and Derrida in the last chapters. But he’s a strong reader of all these texts anyway, and has emerged as a rather important author among the younger continentals due to the encyclopedic power of his book.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I lost interest in Sartre reading his later stuff and turned to Wittgenstein and Nietzsche

enowning Thursday, May 06, 2004
Sofia asked me why I started Ereignis. It was mainly to learn this web and HTML stuff, back in 1995. I learn practical things best by doing rather than reading about them, so I decided to create a website that people would find useful, to give me feedback, so I could improve it, and learn some more. At first I considered making a site on the best band out there, but I found there were already several sites on The Fall, and Nick Cave was also covered.

I had always been interested philosophy so I looked for philosophy web sites and discovered that the only philosophy web sites listed on Yahoo (the web's table of contents back then) were for Ayn Rand and a couple of swamis. The field was wide open.

I decided to narrow the scope to something I could do a decent job for. I had more books by or about Sartre than any other philosopher but my interest in him had peaked in my late teenage years, while I was finding Wittgenstein and Heidegger more interesting, and I had more on the latter. So I searched the web for anything related to Heidegger and found a handful of papers that people had posted. The internet already had ftp sites with philosophy documents before the web came along. I also found pages on other unrelated Heideggers, and pages in languages I could not read. I collected the links to the pages on Martin Heidegger in English, turned them into a web page, signed up for a web hosting account on, and posted the page.

I named the site Ereignis because in German it means "event" and I understood visiting a web page as an event. The web is not static, it changes over time, and a page appearing in a browser is an event. Dasein was another option for a page on Heidegger, but it seemed rather silly as the name of a web site. I didn't want to call it the Heidegger Home Page because that seemed too presumptive. Any day someone that understood Heidegger better could do a better job, and then having a site presuming to be his "home page" would ring wrong. 4:31 PM <<> For when Ereignis is not sufficient. Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at Name: enowning View my complete profile

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 Vinay emailed some questions.
I came across your website while surfing the net. Could you answer a few questions about Heidegger? First, how and why are you interested in Heidegger?

Two things, a general curiousity about ontology and happenstance.

As a kid I was curious about how the universe works and why things are the way they are. As a teenager my interests changed from science and cosmology to the human condition in particular. I wasn't inclined toward religious explanations for things, so I looked for writers that tried to explain things without falling back on divine intervention to answer questions about the universe and how one should behave. I developed an interest in philosophers as the non-theological explainers of the world. I was first attracted to Camus and Sartre, and from them went on to read about the philosophy canon and the existentialist tendency in particular. My high school in Sussex didn't have a professional librarian so I got myself appointed head librarian my junior year. That let me order whatever books I wanted to read next, and I read widely.

Reading De Beauvoir's diaries in India the summer after high school, I came across the name Heidegger for the first time. I went to college and got a couple engineering degrees but kept reading philosophy from the university library. I lost interest in Sartre reading his later stuff and turned to Wittgenstein and Nietzsche. At that time the popular philosophers in the university bookstores were French writers. I found them entertaining, but mainly literary and sociological, and not addressing the fundamental questions I was interested in. I also started to get interested in the proposition that machines could think and started learning how to write programs for purposes other than solving equations.

After college, while looking for something new to read in philosphy, and picked up Heidegger's Basic Writings. I dipped into that for a while and some of it was interesting. Then I got Introduction to Metphysics to read on a trip to Rome, and the ideas in that book resonated with me. I thought Heidegger was asking good questions, even though there were passages I couldn't decipher. After that I started to read other writer's explanations of what Heidegger was saying and began reading the Greek philosophers again. When Mosaic and Winsock first appeared on PCs, I decided to learn how the web worked by building my own web site. And that's covered in this posting.

What would be your approach to study Heidegger, say the order in which to read his various writings, the preparation/background required?

I think Heidegger has a few fundamental insights which he then elaborates from different angles, or along different paths, as he would put it. Many of the introductory books these days are quite good at explaining his major insights. Although none of them are perfect, and pays to read around and look for a congenial writer. I would start with Polt's book.

Ultimately you want the read Heidegger himself. Once you're bootstrapped and have a general understanding of how he thinks, it pays to read his words, and learn more that way. I would also suggest reading Heidegger about some philosopher you are already familiar with. Heidegger had a full university career, lectured on many parts of the canon and about several key philosophers, always in light of his thinking, and dozens of his lectures have been published.

Do you think the translations are enough to understand Heidegger, or is German necessary?

There are places where it is necessary to look at the German to realize that Heidegger is using two German words that have been translated with a single English word. It is also helpful to read why translators chose the words they did and what the alternatives are. There are those who claim that Heidegger can only be understood in German, but I find that many translations and commentrary are intelligible and consistent enough to presume that Heidegger's thinking carries over into English.

It will be helpful if you could answer these questions. I am going to answer them for myself too, but having another's opinion would only help. We could discuss about things after my second reading is done.

Cheers and may your reading open things up. 10:01 PM

Books introducing Heidegger
9 Aug 2009 ... Walter Biemel, translated by J. L. Mehta, New York, Original Harvest, 1976. The first two chapters provide an overview and the subsequent ...
Books of essays on Heidegger
Heidegger and Vedanta: Reflections on a Questionable Theme, J. L. Mehta; West-East Dialogue: Heidegger and Lao-tzu, Otto Pöggeler; Heidegger, Taoism, ...

J.L. Mehta on Heidegger, hermeneutics, and Indian tradition - Google Books Result
by Jarava Lal Mehta, William J. Jackson - 1992 - Philosophy - 309 pages This book presents a selection of essays by the Indian philosopher J.L. Mehta on the topics of hermeneutics and phenomenology containing many original ...

J. L. Mehta, Expert on Heidegger, Dies at 76 - The New York Times Published: Tuesday, July 12, 1988
Dr. J. L. Mehta, an Indian philosopher and expert on the German existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, died of a heart attack yesterday while visiting Cambridge, Mass. He was 76 years old and lived in Jabalpur, India.
Dr. Mehta, a retired professor at Banares Hindu University, taught at Harvard Divinity School from 1968 to 1978 as a visiting professor at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions.
Schooled in the philosophies of India, Dr. Mehta developed an interest in his early student days in the works of Freud, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Heidegger. In his writings and lectures, Dr. Mehta showed an unusual facility to move between Eastern and Western thought.
His major work was ''The Philosophy of Martin Heiddeger,'' first published in the United States by Harper & Row in 1971. A collection of Dr. Mehta's essays, ''India and the West: The Problem of Understanding,'' was published by Scholars Press in 1985.

At Harvard, Dr. Mehta taught courses in Indian philosophy, including a class taught with Robert Nozick, the Harvard philosopher. Dr. Mehta also taught courses on philosophical hermeneutics, the science of interpretation.
Dr. Mehta is survived by his wife, Vimala Mehta; a daughter, Veena Mandloi, of New Dehli, and two grandchildren. Dr. Mehta will be cremated; a memorial service will be held at Harvard next week. A version of this obituary appeared in print on Tuesday, July 12, 1988, on section A page 23 of the New York edition.

Feel Philosophy: J.L.Mehta
I was claimed by science, its methodology and outlook, as well as by depth psychology in all its offshoots and ramifications, and in all its dubiousness... All I am suggesting is that, the new awareness of the dimension of historicity in human matters, a new sensitiveness about the linguisticity of experience and about the world-context of the life of particular traditions, all this has placed us today in a situation where we can seek to read this ancient text afresh and thus gain novel insights from it. [93] 6:17 PM

There is a swirling facade of purely transient or accidental features

the logic of it from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek

So, we have a universe filled with actors or objects. It by no means follows that all of them are equally real. Some objects have genuine reality whether they are being observed or not; they are capable of engaging in relations with other things besides me. Other objects exist only as a correlate of my paying attention to them.

As for the latter, why call them objects at all? Because of what Husserl showed us. First, count me as one of those who think Husserl is a terrible idealist. (The recent notion that he allows for reality because reality is “given” to consciousness misses the main point, because here it is still a question of a human/world correlate. It makes no difference whether you think the human subject actively shapes the world or passively receives it –no difference at all– as long as you’re still always talking about human and world as the indispensable pair.)

But second, Husserl is still an object-oriented idealist, which cannot be said of any earlier idealist I can think of. For years I wondered this: “yes, Husserl is clearly an idealist. So why does he feel like a realist when you’re reading him?” The answer, I now see, is because there are objects in his idealism. They simply aren’t real, autonomous objects that inflict causal forces on other objects whether I’m looking at them or not. But a tree or mailbox for Husserl are not bundles of qualities. Even his Austrian predecessors, as far as I can see, are still under the spell of British Empiricism. Brentano thinks everything is rooted in presentations, but Husserl counters that everything is rooted in object-giving acts. What’s the difference? The difference is that any given presentation is always utterly concrete.

The mailbox is seen at a very specific angle, in completely concrete lighting conditions, at any given moment; all parts of the presentation itself are on the same footing. But if the mailbox is encountered in an object-giving act, not all parts of the mailbox are on the same footing at all. There is a swirling facade of purely transient or accidental features, yet this shifting facade has no effect on the fact that I continue to confront that mailbox as one and the same thing. (And here we are dealing purely with human phenomenal experience, so there is no need for a “proof” that the mailbox is the same thing; that would be necessary only if we were speaking of a real mailbox.)

Husserl is sometimes described with dismissive phrases such as: “a warmed-over Kant,” or “a less interesting version of Descartes,” etc. But nowhere in Kant, Descartes, or anyone else I can think of do we have a tension with object and quality within sensual experience. There were others who doubled up an object outside the mind with a content inside the mind, but no one else I know of who transplants that very tension inside the phenomenal realm itself.

J. N. Mohanty. The Philosophy of Edmund Husserl: A Historical Development
Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2008, pp. 464. Hardcover $55.00. ISBN 978-0-300-12458-3

Husserl, beginning from the Logical Investigations, is focal for Mohanty. “Phenomenology asks us to focus on the way things are presented in consciousness, on the meanings that things have for those experiencing consciousness. Understanding consciousness as intentional and meaning-giving, phenomenology raised consciousness, in its transcendental (i.e., world-constituting) role, as the foundational principle for philosophy” (112).

At Temple he was concerned to respond to the post-modern critique of Husserl. He wanted to mediate between Continental and analytic philosophy. And he would have liked to have modeled a work on the late Husserl. “Singularly free from Hegel’s ’Absolutism,’ with a sense for the open-endedness of the march of the human spirit—unfortunately still caught up in the 'Eurocentrism’ of Hegel—Husserl showed the way. Blending Hegel and Husserl, bringing in our knowledge of Oriental and African experiences, I thought I could write a new Phenomenology” (115). J.N. Mohanty - Between Two Worlds, East and West: An Autobiography Reviewed by Lester Embree, Florida Atlantic University

Friday, November 06, 2009

What Harman and Bryant see as an opposition, is for Whitehead rather a contrast

Objects? from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro

Levi Bryant, in a recent blog entry, argues against the reductionist critique that would see only subatomic particles as “real,” since they are the building blocks of everything on a larger scale. [...]

I prefer Whitehead’s account to the more recent “object-oriented” one. Whitehead fully recognizes how a thing, or an object, is independent of, and irreducible to, its causes, components, and supports or preconditions or milieu. But he goes to great lengths to prevent this independence from being hypostasized as an enduring substance. A Whiteheadian “actual occasion” (or “actual entity”) is in fact independent of everything contemporaneous with it (just as Bryant and Harman claim);No entity is merely a passive result of what precedes it, because every entity makes a “decision” with regard to the “data” that it “prehends” (perceives, touches, is affected by, etc.). Indeed, the independence of an entity/occasion in the present is precisely the consequence of its “decision” with regard to its past. Contemporaneous decisions made by different entites do not influence one another, which is why things can be different, and the new can be produced, even within a common environment or a common set of antecedents.

However — such an “actual entity” is not a substance (in Harman’s sense) or a subsisting object (in Bryant’s sense), because it precisely does not endure. That is to say, it is a process rather than a substance. Once it happens, it is done; it is now dead, or (as Whitehead likes to put it), “objectively immortal” — it is now a mere datum for other processes to come. In this way, the entity is not independent of its antecedents and consequences. It comes out of those things that it makes a decision about, and it influences the rest of reality as something about which other entities must make a decision. It cannot be completely prehended or apprehended by any following entity — it is always grasped only partially and incompletely, just as Harman requires of objects in relation to other objects. And yet it is in its essence relational, because it arises out of already-given data and donates itself to the future as data.

In other words, the punctuality of Whitehead’s actual occasions, the fact that they are “perpetually perishing,” is what gives them over to temporality — in contrast to the way that time remains necessarily secondary and external for the “object-oriented” thinkers. Or, Whitehead’s doctrine of actual occasions does in fact meet all the criteria of Harman’s and Bryant’s object-oriented thought, while at the same time being essential temporal and relational in a way that their notion of object-independence is unable to compass. Harman and Bryant are right in what they require of objects; but there is more to it than they are willing to compass. Whitehead doesn’t contradict the “object-oriented” argument, so much as he places it within a wider context of relations. What Harman and Bryant see as an opposition, is for Whitehead rather a contrast.

I am not really saying anything different from what I say in my formal article critiquing Harman, which I will be delivering tomorrow as a talk at the SLSA conference in Atlanta; and which will appear, together with Harman’s own spirited rejoinder, in the forthcoming volume The Speculative Turn. But I think that Bryant’s formulations in his latest blog posting have allowed me, or spurred me, to make one aspect of the argument clearer than it was before.

[Note to self: this is still incomplete. I need to write also about how Whitehead conceives "societies", which can be objects that more or less endure through time, like myself or a tree. Societies are composed of actual entites, but not in the way that physical objects are composed of subatomic particles; there is a crucial "mereological" argument here, one that I still need to work out better -- but that differs from Bryant's account of parts and wholes. Also, I need to broaden the sense in which Whitehead's approach bridges the gap between object-orientation on the one hand, and the emphasis on becoming and transformation and crystallizations of the actual out of the virtual that one finds in Bergson, Deleuze, and Iain Hamilton Grant. Harman regards this as an irreconcilable opposition -- for him, there is no middle ground between the object-orientation of his own thought, Bryant's, and Latour's, and the process orientation of the above-mentioned thinkers. But Whitehead precisely undoes this dichotomy -- and that is something else that I still need to work out more fully and cogently].

Shaviro post from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek

I also deny outright Shaviro’s claim to occupy the high ground in explaining becoming. I’m going through Aristotle’s Physics right now, and there (in Book V) it is made clear enough why we can only speak of change when there is something capable of bearing opposite qualities at different times or in different respects. I realize that Aristotle is not viewed as especially interesting by today’s continental avant garde, but that’s no concern of mine. When you relationize everything, you lose change. What you have instead is generation, with new things generated in each instant.
Shaviro claims that his position explains change, but all it really gives us is the illusion of change: like those card decks with stationary cartoons which, when flipped through in rapid succession, give the illusory impression of a dynamic event.
Objects in my philosophy, like primary substances in Aristotle’s, are perfectly changeable and perfectly destructible. The fact that both Aristotle and I contend that things can withstand changes to some extent while still remaining what they are does not make us the oppressive Philosophers of Stasis that Shaviro contrasts so negatively with Whitehead and Deleuze (who, incidentally, have much less to do with one another than current fashion holds– Whitehead is a philosopher of occasions, and Deleuze definitely not; the truth is this: Whitehead and Latour vs. Bergson and Deleuze, and the sooner that is seen, the better).
There is nothing “static” about my philosophy. I allow objects to be crushed by bulldozers and trucks, melted in furnaces, generated from forebears, heated and cooled by central air systems, and so forth. But Shaviro has the odd notion that if anything is allowed a non-relational sort of reality, and is allowed to last even for 3 to 5 seconds, let alone a few decades, that somehow we have fallen into a “static” ontology.
Why? What’s so “static” about allowing someone to live for 80 or 90 years, saying that they are the same person despite many changes over that period, and that they then die?