Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Philosophy needs to critically engage the traditions outside of Europe

Eagle's Eye: Mind your mind Central Chronicle Tuesday, October 26, 2010 H Infant Vinoth
According to Sri Aurobindo: spiritual mind is that, which in its fullness aware of the self, reflecting the divine in oneself and awakening to high knowledge. And super-mind according to him is, to achieve the state of Sachidananda, the power of self-awareness and world awareness. 

Christianity and its others from The Immanent Frame by Peter van der Veer
Philosophy has never been able to completely shed its roots in Christian theology, despite the deeply anti-metaphysical project of analytical philosophy. What is called continental philosophy continues to be heavily invested in theological thought, as the work of Teilhard de Chardin and Jean-Luc Marion (or, in the Jewish tradition, that of Levinas and Derrida) testifies. However, it is the global challenge of Islamism that has forced deeply secular philosophers, like J├╝rgen Habermas, to at least partly engage their Eurocentrism. The secular project in the West has been so successful that Christian philosophers like Charles Taylor think that they live in a secular age. The fact, however, remains, that the majority of humanity lives in the Global South and is not secular, although secularism as a political project can be found everywhere.  At this juncture in world history, philosophy needs to critically engage not only the traditions of Europe but also those outside of Europe. This has hardly happened, and therefore it is anthropology rather than Western philosophy that continues to be the disciplinary site of that engagement.
By far the greatest problem for the anthropological study of Christianity today is that it is not part of a comparative endeavor that examines the interaction of religious movements and projects in different regions of the world. In South, South-East, and East Asia, we find extraordinary competition between different religious movements: Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and others. Also, within these religions this competition is intense—for example, between Shi’as and Sunnis, or between Protestants and Catholics. Since Christian missions were the first modern endeavors of their type in the world, many of their tactics and strategies have provided models for other religious movements. Education, health care, and social welfare are the fields in which these movements are competing with each other, often without much presence of the state. In refugee camps in Asia, one finds also a heated competition for the souls of the displaced.
An element that needs careful consideration in the study of religious networks and competition between religious movements is the issue of religious freedom. The U.S. in particular is at the forefront of attempts to enlarge the space for Christian missionary activity in countries that limit possibilities for proselytization. It brings the issue up during trade negotiations, like those around entry to the WTO. While one can sympathize with efforts to make the exercise of religious practice and belief more free in countries that have long faced suppression of religion, the fact that there are close connections between such clamors for religious freedom, American evangelism, and American politics makes it into a highly contested issue. Perhaps the anxieties surrounding Saudi Arabian support for Wahhabi mosques in Europe can be referred to for a better understanding of the anxieties that surround U.S. supported Christian evangelism in Asia.

I've been meaning to catch up on the discussions over Buddhism and objects/relations, Slavoj Zizek's critique of "Western Buddhism," and related topics, which have been continuing on Tim Morton's Ecology Without Nature, Jeffrey Bell's Aberrant Monism, Skholiast's Speculum Criticum Traditionis, and elsewhere. I haven't quite caught up, but here are a few quick notes on some of what's been said... 1) Michael at Archive Fire rightfully points to the virtues of Jeffrey Bell's lucidly articulated point that...

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