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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The concept of “involution” is pivotal to Sri Aurobindian ontology

Skylight » Sri Aurobindo was involved in fighting Hitler through his inner forces Says: May 7th, 2007 at 4:49 am […] Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: May 7th, 2007 at 5:36 am Sri Aurobindo’s ontology as delineated in his magnum opus, “The Life Divine” was spurred by the conception of Overman enunciated by Nietzsche. No wonder, he was involved in fighting Hitler from his retreat in Puducherry through his inner forces subsequently. Sri Aurobindo foresees a race of supermen endowed with divine potencies rather than vitalistic beings as speculated by Nietzsche. […]
Greg Desilet Says: May 7th, 2007 at 11:54 am Edward says: Greg - yes, the reading of any author inevitably involves taking his work out of context, even when you read the primary source. It’s all interpretation based on interpretation and once an author dies then can no longer defend themselves from egregious misinterpretation - what to do?
I guess that’s what may be meant when it is said “even the dead suffer.” Although it’s hard to imagine someone like Derrida could suffer greater misunderstandings after death than when he was alive, the dark side of me says “It could happen.” But in answer to your question here’s a story:
A wise man was approached by a young man who held a bird in his hands. The young man asked the wise man if the bird was alive or dead. The bird was alive, but if the wise man answered that it was alive, the young man would crush it to death; if the wise man said that the bird was dead, the young man would release it to fly away. The wise man said, “The answer my son is in your hands.”
Regarding Tusar’s comment: “Sri Aurobindo foresees a race of supermen endowed with divine potencies” the word “race” here gives me the shudders. And from a man who opposed Hitler? I would hope this is an incorrect gloss of his views. I have to check out from the blogging for a few days to focus on a project (yes, I’m easily hooked on blogging and pulled away from everything else–it’s addictive but rewarding!). Please don’t interpret my withdrawal as a lack of interest.
alan kazlev Says: May 7th, 2007 at 5:15 pm Greg said Regarding Tusar’s comment: “Sri Aurobindo foresees a race of supermen endowed with divine potencies” the word “race” here gives me the shudders. And from a man who opposed Hitler? I would hope this is an incorrect gloss of his views.
Youch, what a chain of association! Actually this is a very good example of what is being discussed here, taking things out of context, later interpretations of the original teacher’s words, and then further misinterprertations of what the follower himself is saying, leading to terrible distortions. Indeed the meaning coming to be, as Ouspensky has Gurdjieff explain in In Search of the Miraculous the exact opposite of what it originally was! (In Search of the Miraculous, Harcourt Brace Jovonavitch, 1977 ch.7 pp.127-9). I don’t know if Sri Aurobindo even did use the word “race” at all (although if he did it certainly wasn’t in any sort of eugenic context). What he did say was:
“If a spiritual unfolding on earth is the hidden truth of our birth into Matter, if it Is fundamentally an evolution of consciousness that has been taking place in Nature, then man as he is cannot be the last term of that evolution: he is too imperfect an expression of the Spirit, Mind itself a too limited form and instrumentation; Mind is only a middle term of consciousness, the mental being can only be a transitional being. If, then, man is incapable of exceeding mentality, he must be surpassed and supermind and superman must manifest and take the lead of the creation. But if his mind is capable of opening to what exceeds it, then there is no reason why man himself should not arrive at supermind and supermanhood or at least lend his mentality, life and body to an evolution of that greater term of the Spirit manifesting in Nature.” (The Life Divine, bk 2, ch.23, pp.846-7)
Andy Smith Says: May 7th, 2007 at 5:49 pm Tusar: “The Life Divine cannot be paraphrased. As regards verbosity, I can challenge, let anybody take out even a sentence out of the book and show that the meaning is intact.”
Well, let’s consider the passage Alan quoted in his last post:
How about:
If evolution is leading to spirit, then human beings are not the end of evolution, because there are forms of spirit beyond and more perfect than the ordinary human mind. If human beings can realize these forms of spirit, they can be part of this process, rather than simply a step along the way.
Of course, one can always argue that taking even a single word out of a lengthy passage alters its meaning–or as Derridans would say, its multiple meanings–in some way. But if we can get past such quibbling, I think my condensed version adequately makes Aurobindo’s points.
Tusar N. Mohapatra Says: May 7th, 2007 at 8:26 pm Thanks Andy for your fine attempt but obviously you have missed out much. The word “unfolding” is an allusion to the concept of “involution” that is pivotal to Sri Aurobindian ontology. The word “if” in the original passage is only a polite expression and does not denote any kind of vacillation or option. For, the evolution “must” unfold as charted out by the involution.
Both Greg’s and Alan’s reservations are certainly worth ruminating, but I have not said anything original. Already many books are available on this subject and no one can prevent the publishing houses from benefiting from popular subjects. And then, there is nothing to shudder in this age of hermeneutics. Let a million mythos bloom!
Skylight » There is nothing to shudder in this age of hermeneutics Says: May 7th, 2007 at 8:57 pm […] Let a million mythos bloom! […]

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