Thursday, May 26, 2011

The idea of a cosmopolitan right

Kant’s relevance for anthropology today from The Memory Bank by Keith Hart In order to understand the world, we must begin not with the empirical existence of objects, but with the reasoning embedded in our experience and in all the judgments we have made. This is to say that the world is inside each of us as much as it is out there. Our task is to unite the two poles as subjective individuals who share the object world with the rest of humanity. Knowledge of society must be personal and moral before it is defined by laws imposed on us from above.
Kant published Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view in 1798. The book was based on lectures he had given at the university since 1772. His aim was to attract the general public to an independent discipline whose name he more than anyone contributed to academic life. Remarkably, histories of anthropology have rarely mentioned this work, perhaps because the discipline has evolved so far away from Kant’s original premises. But it would pay us to take his Anthropology seriously, if only for its resonance with our own times.
Shortly before, Kant wrote To perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch (1795). The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw its own share of “globalization” — the American and French revolutions, the Napoleonic wars, the rise of British industry and the international movement to abolish slavery. Kant knew that coalitions of states were gearing up for war, yet he responded to this sense of the world coming closer together by proposing how humanity might form society as world citizens beyond the boundaries of states. He held that “cosmopolitan right”, the basic right of all world citizens, should rest on conditions of universal hospitality, that is, on the right of a stranger not to be treated with hostility when he arrives on someone else’s territory. In other words, we should be free to go wherever we like in the world, since it belongs to all of us equally.
“The peoples of the earth have entered in varying degree into a universal community, and it has developed to the point where a violation of rights in one part of the world is felt everywhere. The idea of a cosmopolitan right is not fantastic and overstrained; it is a necessary complement to the unwritten code of political and international right, transforming it into a universal right of humanity.” (Kant 2003:18).
This confident sense of an emergent world order, written over 200 years ago, can now be seen as the high point of the liberal revolution, before it was overwhelmed by its twin offspring, industrial capitalism and the nation-state. [11:35 AM

The Politics of God By Mark Lilla The Times Magazine: August 19, 2007
The twilight of the idols has been postponed. For more than two centuries, from the American and French Revolutions to the collapse of Soviet Communism, world politics revolved around eminently political problems. War and revolution, class and social justice, race and national identity — these were the questions that divided us.
Today, we have progressed to the point where our problems again resemble those of the 16th century, as we find ourselves entangled in conflicts over competing revelations, dogmatic purity and divine duty. We in the West are disturbed and confused.
Though we have our own fundamentalists, we find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still stir up messianic passions, leaving societies in ruin. We had assumed this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that fanaticism was dead. We were wrong. [5:22 PM3:25 PM]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Curiosity, contemplation, & the cinematic

The Stone: The Flight of Curiosity New York Times (blog) - Justin Eh Smith - May 22, 2011
What appears to us today to be a core is only what is left over after a centuries-long process by which the virtue of curiosity — once nearly synonymous with philosophy — migrated into other disciplines, both scientific and humanistic. As this migration was occurring, many curiosity-driven activities — such as insect-collecting and star-gazing, long considered at least tributaries of philosophy — were downgraded to the status of mere hobbies. This loss of curiosity has played an important but little noticed role in the widespread perception that professional philosophy has become out of touch with the interests of the broader society.

(title unknown) from enowning In-der-Blog-sein
The Owl on what Arendt to read.
“Contemplation had once been the queen of knowing and philosophy, but modern rationalism had come to dethrone the queen and sit on the throne of knowing. The reversal of contemplation and action had to be reversed. This was the philosophic vocation of Heidegger and Arendt.”

Just got my copy of Stenger’s Whitehead book from Amazon. Firstly, it’s massive, and has a nifty, short but nice looking intro by Latour. But in thumbing through the book, it seems like a real wonder, and I’m so psyched to start to plow through this.
Starting the The Concept of Nature, the first work of the later (post-Principia) Whithead, Stengers weaves her text in and around citations from Whitehead right in the text differentiated by italics. The result is something more like the commentaries and exegeses of medieval scribes.

The relation between Bergson and SA in the matter of intuition, duration and the cinematic has been lately in my mind wrt the Vijnana Chatusthaya. Here is a passage from my essay on the subject, which includes another quote from SA. Delueze’s essay Bergsonism (particularly the chapter Duration as Immediate Datum) can provide potent passages to juxtapose with this:
In thinking about the experience of Time, Henri Bergson has noted that indeed all the past is present in every present object. This continuing presence and continuous passage of Time is what he calls duration. Gilles Deleuze points to this in his discussion of Bergson’s methodical use of intuition. It is due to the continuing duration of Time that one can intuit, that is, directly apprehend the past and the future in the present, for the sum total of developing realities in the present comprise the virtual space of the future. It is the extension of this intuition that Sri Aurobindo seeks, a conscious identity with the body of Time. The Bergsonian intuition of Deleuze bears comparison in its extended possibility in this quote from Sri Aurobindo:

The articulation of technology uncovers at least two trends: first, it harbors an impulse to duplicate, to create phantoms. Their numbers multiply as culture evolves. To see how: Alexander Graham Bell created the miracle that is a telephone. Space could no longer constrain verbal communication because the technology for the production of phantom sound was made possible.
However, by duplicating sound and enabling it to cut across continents, the telephone not only creates a double, but alsoenhances reality. This, I construe as the second trend. The two are closely tied since by (a) imitating the real, technology is also able to (b) transcend the real. It transcends by overcoming the limitations of reality, its finitude: […] There is a certain irony about the phantom. While it enhances an object, it also is one step removed from the object. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mira Alfassa was a great modernizer and reformist

The participatory turn: spirituality, mysticism, religious studies - Page 301 Jorge N. Ferrer, Jorge Noguera Ferrer, Jacob H ... - 2008 - 388 pages
Feminists under fire: exchanges across war zones - Page 203 - Wenona Mary GilesWomen in Conflict Zones Network - 2003 - 238 pages - The "Mother"- Mira Rachel Alfassa of Sephardic Jewish origin from Egypt and France - was a great modernizer and reformist and is revered even today, thirty years after her death. Many European and American socialist and communist women ...
Sri Aurobindo, Jung and Vedic Yoga by Satya Prakash Singh (Hardcover - Apr. 15, 2005)
Maha yogi Walt Whitman: new light on yoga Odayamadath Kunjappa Nambiar - 1978 - 258 pages
Emerson and the light of India: an intellectual history Robert Cartwright Gordon - 2007 - 255 pages
Rūmī and the hermeneutics of eroticism - Page 36 Mahdi Tourage - 2007 - 260 pages
Dante and the Orient - Page 100 Brenda Deen Schildgen - 2002 - 160 pages
Divine justice according to Kambar and Luther Ci. Vi Cavarimuttu - 1978 - 110 pages
Destiny and human initiative in the Mahābhārata - Page 242 Julian F. Woods - 2001 - 237 pages
Under western eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay Balachandra Rajan - 1999 - 267 pages
Looks at the influence of India on the lives, thought, and desires of such twentieth-century Western writers and thinkers as E.M. Forester, Carl Jung, W.B. Yeats, and Martin Luther King, jr
Father India: how encounters with an ancient culture transformed ... - Jeffery Paine - 1998 - 324 pages - ... Aurobindo and the Mother became spiritually one. And Mirra Richard achieved her synthesis, her work, in defiance of the European highbrows like Dickinson who argued that "the contrast is that between India and the rest of the world. ...
With Medhananda on the shores of infinity - Medhananda - 1998 - 144 pages - Reminiscences by a German disciple of the Mother, 1878-1973, chiefly about Sri Aurobindo Ashram; with a few texts translated from French and German.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hawking Dawkins had a grand fall

'Maya' mired in an overly ambitious plot Bangkok Post - May 14, 2011
MAYA By Jostein Gaarder 346pp, 2001 Phoenix paperback. Available at all good bookshops, 279 baht. His later novel, Maya, attempts to do for evolutionary science what Sophie's World did for philosophy: render it inspiring; reveal it in all of its ...
Stephen Hawking tells Google 'philosophy is dead' - Matt Warman - May 17, 2011
Speaking to Google's Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, the author of 'A Brief History of Time' said that fundamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be ...
Stephen Hawking, science and sharia Washington Post (blog) 
My twelve-year-old son Rumi, is a fan of Stephen Hawkings' book, A Brief History of Time. He has been blogging about the book for nearly a year now.
Islamic philosophy is genuine and is not Greek Iran Book News Agency - May 17, 2011
In the reviewing meeting on the book "Farabi"; written by Nasrollah Hikmat, Davari Ardakani said: " The philosophy which began with al-Kindi and was established with Farabi, is authentically original and isn't Greek.
Dr Michiel Leezenbrrg, professor of philosophy at the University of Amsterdam is going to lecture on 'Spinoza and Islamic Philosophy' at Iranian Institute of Philosophy.
A Philosopher in Love New York Times - Robert Zaretsky - May 6, 2011
TODAY is the 300th birthday of David Hume, the most important philosopher ever to write in English, according to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Monk, mystic, mechanic Ha'aretz - Avner Shapira - May 13, 2011
Ludwig Wittgenstein's complicated ties with his Viennese family, the suicides of three of his siblings, his ambivalent attitude toward his Jewish origins and his homosexuality - all are examined in a new exhibition in Berlin in honor of the great 20th ...