Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ideal of an authoritarian and spiritually-endowed state

Getting back to the Hegel Question:

The stance of Hegel, with his pan-logical "mysticism," is the opposite [of historical materialism]: in the world of logical abstraction, the "notion" of the state is ultimately determinative, and the tragic divisions of society are destined to be transcended (aufgehoben) in the inevitable march of history" (M. Rader, Marx's Interpretation of History, page 69)

One political imperative one can draw from this doctrine can be summarized like so: to change the world, change your paradigm, that is, adopt a better worldview in tune with this underlying cosmic consciousness we claim to be real. Why? Because it is through determinative mind-stuff, really important notions, that the logic of History (none other than Spirit) is effected. The inevitable march of history toward a New Age ("evolution") is an epiphenomenon of thoughts, particularly the ideal of an authoritarian and spiritually-endowed state. To unite or integrate a divided world, think integrative thoughts, have integral consciousness, do your yoga. Or rather, do our form of yoga, which is the essence of all possible yogas anyway, the best of the best.

Such is the Hegelian argument, translated into the patois and market strategy of Ken Wilber, much of it claimed from Aurobindo or indirectly from Richard Tarnas's peculiar history The Passion of the Western Mind, and later, to Wilber's surprise, found repeated in Hegel and other right-wing and authoritarian idealists. There is much more to be said about the coincidence of idealism in doctrine with the ideal of the state as an expression of Spirit (the Hegelian state as an "Omega point" as it were, to draw in Wilber's appropriation of Theilhard de Chardin's iteration of this idealism). The state in its ideal form subordinates the subject's mind stuff, matures it spiritually, organizes its freedom: the authoritarian state looks not so very unlike the Wilberian superholon, does it not?

Needless to say, I stand with Althusser, as a historical materialist, against all this. And this is why ideology was my way in to critique integral theory to begin with (a problematic essay, but one I still claim as my own work with some confidence). 7:35 PM 

I am disappointed in how the book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge, & Truth, written by the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (Mirza Tahir Ahmad), has been largely ignored by writers in the integral studies world. If one is interested in the intersection between knowledge-production and "the sacred" in an interdisciplinary and inter-traditional sense, then this text should be on one's list as an artifact of first significance. If one is objective about it, the thrust of its central arguments seem not so very distant at all from Aurobindo's.

The same can be said for other forms of Islamic, Sufistic, and what might be called for lack of a better word post-Islamic integral culture (of which more below): the Baha'i movement, the Universal Worship of Hazrat Inayat Khan, for instance. These streams are sadly underrepresented in integral studies, not particularly well accounted for. If one wants to argue that history is characterized by certain flowerings of spiritual wisdom (see Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality for instance, The Passion of the Western Mind, or The Future Poetry) then one is suffering from plank-in-the-eye syndrome if one ignores the Islamic world's contributions to integral culture. There are, surely, other examples (Wilber's circle has precious little to say about Gurdjieff and the
Fourth Way for starters).

So I ask: how might the claims made about intellectual history on behalf of World-Spiritual history in Aurobindo Ghose, Ken Wilber, or Richard Tarnas among others be adjusted if they accounted more properly for these flowerings in the garden as well as the European and Hindu traditions?

Mind you, I do not have a particular pony in this race: I am a Buddhist, not a Hindu or a Muslim. The historian in me wants to see a better account of the archive. Do your homework, guys.
To be clear, by "post-Islamic" I mean specifically social and cultural movements that arise in an Islamic context, but are not necessarily Islamic in character. The Baha'i Faith, for instance, is not an Islamic movement; it is a Baha'i movement. &c. I am not trying to suggest that Islam has been eclipsed or superseded or whatever, in case any one out there thinks in those terms and wants to imagine I agree with them (I do not).

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