Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why would you close yourself off in philosophy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 Exclusive Philosophy
Prof. Anita Allen offers some provocative comments on the discipline:
“I have not been able to encourage other people like me to go into philosophy because I don’t think it has enough to offer them. The salaries aren’t that great, the prestige isn’t that great, the ability to interact with the world isn’t that great, the career options aren’t that great, the methodologies are narrow. Why would you do that,” she asks, “when you could be in an African American studies department, a law school, a history department, and have so many more people to interact with who are more like you, a place where so many more methods are acceptable, so many more topics are going to be written about? Why would you close yourself off in philosophy? I feel that philosophy is hoisting itself by its own petard. Its unwillingness to be more inclusive in terms of issues, methods, demographics, means that it’s losing out on a lot of vibrancy, a lot of intellectual power.”
It's hard to know what to make of this. I tend to think that almost any topic can benefit from being thought about in a philosophical way (that's why I blog!), so I'm all in favour of topical inclusivity. But philosophy is already by far the most topically diverse discipline, spanning everything from applied ethics to formal logic. Perhaps the worry is that within these subfields, there are a limited number of issues that one's academic colleagues will find interesting. But what is the complaint, exactly? Is everyone else obliged to share one's idiosyncratic interests?
I guess I'm more partial to the 'marketplace of ideas' metaphor: academics should simply pursue their personal passions, and communicate the grounds for their excitement to others, and the best will tend to rise to the top. There's no obligation to support academic work you find uninteresting or otherwise not so worthwhile. There's something to be said for quality control, after all. (One should be receptive to new work, of course, but not uncritically accepting.) The only legitimate complaint I can imagine in this vicinity would be if non-mainstream ideas were not receiving a fair hearing, as opposed to being heard and just not especially well-liked.
So much for issues. Should we be more methodologically inclusive? Well, that surely depends on what new methods are being proposed. In general, I don't see that anything is gained by taking non-philosophy and calling it "philosophy". If you want to do history, for example, there's already a place for that. I wouldn't consider it a gain for philosophy if we attracted new students precisely by changing the discipline into something it's not. (It's like curtailing civil liberties in the fight for freedom.) I certainly wouldn't want to see rational argumentation replaced by wishful thinking, or political convenience, etc., as the standard against which we assess claims. Or, for a less straw-mannish example, I have my doubts about experimental philosophy. But it really depends on the specific proposal. If, for example, there are valid inferences that philosophers traditionally haven't recognized as such, then by all means bring that to our attention.
Finally, is philosophy as a discipline really "unwilling" to be "more inclusive in terms of... demographics"? I simply can't imagine anyone in this day and age willing to sacrifice "intellectual power" for the sake of maintaining white male hegemony. I mean, that's just crazy. It's another thing to be suspicious of affirmative action, but that's precisely because it seems to be elevating concern for demographics over intellectual merit, and it's the latter we care about. So, again, I'm not quite sure what to make of the criticism.
As for her earlier remarks, I think Nick at the Feminist Philosophers blog hit the nail on the head:
This is an odd list. Consider salary and prestige. If these are reasons to avoid philosophy, they’re reasons to avoid most academic disciplines. But is this right? We should encourage black women to avoid the academy because the pay is only middle-class and the prestige is only so-so? That hardly seems right.
And who says the career options aren’t that great? They’re not that great if you don’t love philosophy. But if you do, then what career options are better? Being an investment banker? Not for me, I think (and thank God).
Can anyone else make better sense of Allen's complaints? Read More... Collapse... Posted by Richard 2 comments
On October 30, Brandon said...
Finally, is philosophy as a discipline really "unwilling" to be "more inclusive in terms of... demographics"? I simply can't imagine anyone in this day and age willing to sacrifice "intellectual power" for the sake of maintaining white male hegemony. They wouldn't call it 'white male hegemony' of course. But I think one seems to find in philosophy departments the view that there is nothing really wrong with the demographics at all, so when women or minorities complain about practices or approaches that isolate them or interfere with changes they would like to introduce, they are ignored or deliberately resisted. One of the things I've come to realize is that philosophers actually tend to be very intellectually conservative -- they're not (usually) irrational, so they can be persuaded, but there's a strong tendency to resist approaches that are very different from the ones they are comfortable with, and to affirm approaches that confirm the superiority of the way they like to do things. 'Stubborn' might be a better term than 'intellectually conservative': being able to argue cleverly for whatever one sees fit is not always a good quality to have, because it sometimes gets in the way of serious listening. And one of the things this means is that while there are just a few bad eggs -- and they definitely do exist -- who are dismissive of women or minorities are never counteracted, because no one feels they have to go out of their way to make sure that women and minorities can reasonably feel welcome.
On October 30, Richard said...
Ah, okay, that's certainly a fair point.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Sri Aurobindo

Main Page « Previous 10 days Next 10 days »
Monday, December 26
liminality and communitas
by Rich on December 26, 2005 10:36AM (PST)
In reading the following ideas from Victor Turner of liminality and communitas please think about the ideas of integral yoga and Auroville, as the place of liminality, or the threshold between worlds in evolution. In which the authenticity of communitas facilitates the continuation of the embodied evolution of consciousness envisioned by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. On this evolutionary track we find a future in which technology is utilized in service of the disappearance of the Human into the Divine. (Life Divine chapter 2) ... more »
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Sunday, December 25
The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nilhilism
by Rich on December 25, 2005 12:00PM (PST)
The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nihilism.
A link to the video lecture of this most important book on post-humanism. more »
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emergent being of Modernism and Nietzsche's Last Man
by Rich on December 25, 2005 11:58AM (PST)
The question I would like to put forth to consider while reading the essay by Kroker and Weinstein, is can the notion of emergent being which transcends humanity be formulated simply as a messianic modernist humanist/religious belief of progress? and how Sri Aurobindo’s message contrasts with it, and also does the emergence of a “media-net” so described here by Kroker as collective transcendent (to humanity) consciousness have any implications when considering the superamental manifestation as ... more »
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The theory of the virtual class (from data trash 1994)
by Rich on December 25, 2005 11:51AM (PST)
Published in 1994 *Data Trash* is one of the most insightful books on the post-human future being manufactured by the virtual class. By Arthur Kroker and Michael Weinstein.The Theory of the Virtual Class"Wired Shut"*Wired* [Magazine] intends to profit from the Internet. And so do a lot of others."People are going to have to realize that the Net is another medium, and it has to be sponsored commercially and it has to ..." more »
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Thursday, December 22
*They Thought They Were Free : The Germans, 1933-45* (review by Dorian)
by ronjon on December 22, 2005 12:44PM (PST)
*They Thought They Were Free : The Germans, 1933-45*by Milton MayerPublished: May 19th, 1966I highly recommend reading the excerpt below from Mayer's book. One would think that it was written today, with full awareness of the obvious parallels to our current political situation and the intention to draw atttention to them. However, as I've noted above, the book was authored in 1966. The resemblances to the present day are uncanny - and disquieting. - Dorian more »
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Wednesday, December 21
genghis blues
by Rich on December 21, 2005 10:36AM (PST)
I would highly recommend the film Genghis is really sweet and will have you thinking about the reincarnation of a blues singer.rchere is the net flix synopsis: A blind San Francisco blues singer's journey to becoming a master of Tuvan throat singing is the subject of Roko and Adrian Belic's Oscar-nominated documentary. ... more »
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critical and post modern theory
by Rich on December 21, 2005 10:20AM (PST)
I found a wonderful web site from a Douglas Kellner, chair of the philosophy of education department at UCLA, (I wonder if we can invite him to the center?) which has several articles on critical theory and postmodern theory, including the differences between them. He even explores notions of the virtual call or most specifically the implications of Baudrillard and Virilio.He apparently also knows Arthur Kroker since he credits Kroker with help on ... more »
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Saturday, December 17
Auroville Architect builds hopes and houses for tsunami victims
by ronjon on December 17, 2005 03:24AM (PST)
Architect Sharukh Mistry had a providential escape last year when the first monster wave hit the coast where he was holidaying. Undaunted, he is back on the beach - to rebuild houses for the tsunami-hit victims on the Pondicherry coast.His firm, Mistry and Company, is in the process of constructing 800 permanent houses in the SOS Kinderdorf-Children's Village. On the fateful Dec 26 morning, he was at one of the beach properties in a healing centre at Auroville, along with 12 other members of his family and friends. ... more »
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Friday, December 16
Pondy forms renewable energy agency
by ronjon on December 16, 2005 11:08AM (PST)
Pondicherry, Dec 16: A renewable energy agency has been formed in Pondicherry.....After detailing the agency's activities, the notification also announced a 11-member governing body under the chairmanship of the Chief secretary. The governing body also has two non-official members, Prof C L Gupta of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Hemant Lamba of the Centre for Scientific Research in Auroville. more »
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Thursday, December 15
"Sri Aurobindo's Teaching and Religion"
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 11:41PM (PST)
Many people say that the teaching of Sri Aurobindo is a new religion. Would you say that it is a religion?The Mother:People who say that are fools who don't even know what they are talking about. ... more »
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"Yoga and Religion"
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 11:16PM (PST)
Sweet Mother, what is the difference between yoga and religion? Ah! my child... it is as though you were asking me the difference between a dog and a cat! more »
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'My inspiration from Aurobindo, Divine Mother', says Pondy theatre genius
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 05:33PM (PST)
Veenapani Chawla is the Managing Trustee and Director of Adishakthi, a theatre group based in Pondicherry. The group is working towards enlivening dying theatre works while discovering new boulevards of ingenuity. Located near Auroville, the performance company is engaged in explorations of traditional forms of theatre, dance, music and movement. Presently, the troupe is here in city to take part in the National theatre festival, Bahuroopi. Here we publish an exclusive interview with Chawla by our special correspondent Geetha Shah. —Ed more »
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Sigh of relief for clogged water bodies
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 05:06PM (PST)
Siruthuli plans to convert water hyacinth, a very good organic matter, into manure by administering microbes (micro organisms) available in concentrated liquid state.. The microbes technology has been adapted to perfection after a brief training in Auro Annam, an institute in Auroville, Pondicherry. ... more »
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Tools Found in Britain Show Much Earlier Human Existence
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 04:45PM (PST)
A chance discovery on a routine field trip to England's Suffolk seacoast led to evidence that humans reached northern Europe 700,000 years ago, about 200,000 years earlier than previously thought, scientists said yesterday. ... more »
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"Auroville - An Experiment in Collective Evolution"
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 04:04AM (PST)
Another interesting article re Auroville from Life Positive magazine:The year is 1347 BC. General Horemheb, a dictator, has sent thousands of troops from his newly revived capital of Thebes to destroy Amarna, a modern city founded by the beautiful queen of Egypt, Nefertiti, and her husband, Pharaoh Amenophis IV, now known as Akhnaton. Akhnaton is a daring reformist. He has opted for a monotheist cult and worships only LIGHT, pure and free. This new city of Amarna is situated midway between Memphis (Cairo) and Thebes (Luxor), on the eastern bank of the Nile. At the center of the city, Akhnaton and Nefertiti have built a temple to the Light. Inside, there is no picture of any god, nor any image of traditional worship.In this new city, everyone is equal: Egyptians and foreigners (many of whom are attached here), king and common people, men and women. Artists and craftsmen receive support and encouragement to express their skills fully. Money is not the sovereign ruler. ... more »
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All Life Is Yoga," Interview w. Georges Van Vrekhem
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 03:22AM (PST)
Georges Van Vrekhem is best known for his two seminal works on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He spoke to Swati Chopra about life as an Aurobindonian and the next step in man's spiritual evolution.One finds a lot of creative individuals being drawn to Sri Aurobindo. Why?If you really study Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, you realize his profundity. He gives you a foot to stand on and look at the world. If you have worked out his philosophy, you can comprehend any topic under the sun. A book I would like to write one day is *The Fifth Philosopher—Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Sri Aurobindo* as the fifth one. He is almost completely unknown, which is good. ... more »
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'The New Utopia: Auroville,' from *Beyond Man*, by Georges Van Vrekhem
by ronjon on December 15, 2005 01:23AM (PST)
When I first read George Van Vrekhem's virtuoso book *Beyond Man: The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother,* I was moved to tears while reading his chapter: "THE NEW UTOPIA: AUROVILLE." I hope George will forgive me for sharing it with SCIY's readers by typing it verbatim and presenting it here. (I'll be seeing him at Auroville in a couple of weeks and will ask him for specific permission.)Please note Georges' copyright notices and refrain from circulating it further. If you are also moved by this quoted chapter, I hope you'll feel motivated to read the rest of the book by purchasing your own copy. I've included a hot link to its online ordering page on Amazon. ~ ronYou say that Auroville is a dream. Yes,it is a "dream" of the Lord andgenerally these "dreams" turn to to betrue -- much more true than the so-called human realities! - The Mother more »
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Wednesday, December 14
Discovery Verifies Mayan Civilization 2,000 Years Ago
by ronjon on December 14, 2005 06:49PM (PST)
Archaeologists have uncovered an elegantly painted 30-foot-long mural in a ceremonial chamber beneath a Guatemalan jungle pyramid, providing new evidence that Mayan civilization was in full flower more than 2,000 years ago. Archaeologist William Saturno of the University of New Hampshire and Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology said yesterday that the San Bartolo site, in Guatemala's Peten wilderness, is "the find of a lifetime," depicting the Mayan creation myth and the crowning of a king in vivid color on a plaster wall as though "parts of it . . . were painted yesterday." ... more »
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Auroville Winter Integral Studies Program - Jan, Feb, Mar 2006
by ronjon on December 14, 2005 04:30AM (PST)
Dear Friends,We are delighted to present you with the second Auroville Winter Integral Studies Program (WISP). This program is an experiment and initiative that attempts to offer a range of courses, classes, lectures, and study programs around the theme of transformation and integral learning. ... more »
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Tuesday, December 13
difference (3) - the Blindman's cane
by Rich on December 13, 2005 10:22AM (PST)
As these differences enter into the stream of perception and enter memory they trigger conscious awareness of recognizable patterns inspiring action. As these patterns are learned and understood by the individual, skill in the recognition of patterns increases. Once these recognized patterns are assimilated in consciousness they become part and parcel of our inner structures of knowing; they become tacit. ... more »
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why insist on one person alone?

from Gyanchandra to Tusar N. Mohapatra date 28 Oct 2007 14:58 subject Re: Fwd: [Savitri Era Open Forum] New comment on Peerless Sri Aurobindo.
There is a chain of developments on earth. Whether in the physical domain or in the realm of Consciousness states. Sri Aurobindo is latest in the chain we believe but one must not isolate him in a dogmatic way. Sri Ramkrishana, Dayanand, Stephen Hawking etc. all are included in the chain and have their irrevocable places. Why insist on one person alone?
Evolution is a natural process. Even Charvak and Brihaspati the atheists have their respective value in the human evolution. Marx, Mao also can not be excluded. One must read all and then make out every one's contribution. Evolution is still going on isn't it. You the presently alive know many things more which Sri Aurobindo and Vivekanand did not know.
from Gyanchandra to Tusar N. Mohapatra date 28 Oct 2007 15:15
Yoga is the only Karma Alan, as Sri Krishna says only apt and able Karma is called Yogah. When one does something for the humanity and for the earth's progress without consideration for individual and personal gains and gratifications, that becomes Yoga or Yagya in the Vedic language.
But the big question is What is the destination or the goal of all this progress IF AT ALL IT CAN BE CALLED A PROGRESS. Unless the aim of life and purpose of creation is not clear, human will not understand fully his duties and responsibilities fully while living. if evolution is the aim there must be a clear elaboration on the sense of way and the goal. After all where the creation wants to reach? Can you enlighten it pl.?

Friday, October 26, 2007

As most of the info on the link is posted by an Indian

the Dry Bones Blog Thursday, October 25, 2007 Yaakov Kirschen, Israel
Spain Repeals Expulsion (1991)
Well, it's been 16 years since Spain repealed their 500 year-old expulsion of the Jews in 1492.
Generations of American kids only knew that date by having been taught that "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 14 hundred 92." The Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain never, at least in my day, made it into the history books.
There is, of course a heavy connection between Columbus and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain:
"On On March 31, 1492, the Edit of Expulsion was signed. The deadline for Jews to leave Spain was August 3, 1492, which was, ironically, the Ninth of Av (Tisha B'av) on the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting commemorating the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem.
Columbus and his crew boarded their vessels before midnight, and on the August 3rd sailed before sunrise."-more.
Labels: , , , 3 3 Comments:
At 2:15 PM, Paul said...
Interesting Bones.
At 5:35 PM, Zalmen said...
At 6:29 PM, west_rhino said...
When I consider what little bit of the Spanish Inquisition actually makes it into secular history books in the US, that it was another "final solution" revisionistically is skipped in favor of dunning Roman Catholicism, I get you point Bones. As avarice drove the Inquisition, fear drove Spain from supporting the multinational force in Iraq after Madrid. zalmen, I can appreciate your perspective. I'd invite you to give Bones another chance, as most of the info on the link is posted by an Indian, from a speculative text written, apparently by a goy; not writtne by Bones himself. Post a Comment Back to Current Posts

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Glory becomes indiscernable from economy and governance

Acclamations from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak
The Power and the Glory Mikhail points to a lecture by Giorgio Agamben in which he speaks of a phenomenon of acclamation or glory.
Schmitt claims that in modern democracies this original phenomenon survives in the form of public opinion. That is to say that public opinion is the modern form of acclamation. . . . So if this be true, then the sphere of glory does not disappear in modern democracy, but, rather, it is simply displaced in another and wider sphere. And if the media are so important in modern democracy– technically, juridically important–this is not simply because they allow to control and govern by public opinion, but also because in this way they distribute and bestow glory. We could even say that modern society is a glorious society, the most glorious society ever in . . . history, in which the function of glory frees itself from its traditional link with liturgy and spreads over every aspect of social life. Liturgies and ceremonies in the ancien régime were limited to a certain moment, but now the media spread the glory in every moment of social life. And from this point of view what Guy Debord calls société du spectacle, spectacular society. . . is a society in which glory becomes indiscernable from economy and governance. The identification of economy and glory in the acclamatory form of media and consensus is in this sense the salient feature of contemporary democracy. . . .
Through this theological pattern of economy, I tried to cast some light on the modern figure of power, that is to say governance. But, in the end, this figure showed itself to be inseperable from glory, and even to be essentially the same as glory. The relationship between economy and glory is in this sense the very core of the Western governmental machine. The ultimate figure of power is therefore not government and action, but rather, inoperativity and inaction. And what glory has to cover with its splendor, what power can neither think nor accept, is the end of government, is divine inaction or leisure. Or, to put it differently, the aim of glory is perhaps to capture and control this inactivity and to transform it into the secret and precious nourishment of power.
The function of a blogger is to dish out glory and inglory. (How do internet acclamations differ from old media acclamations? Are they even more diffuse, more covering?) Is the function of the blogger also to dish out criticism? To begin to criticize, I believe that the phenomena of acclamation under discussion differ greatly. The similarity Agamben sees between "modern" totalitarian states and "modern" democracies can partially be explained by "modern" technologies, which have had political import, but may not have been the decisive forces Agamben thinks they are. The juridical similarities seem superficial. In any event, the "modern" technologies of mass media are going the way of the dodo bird, and perhaps along with them public opinion–but I want to tread gingerly around the idea of mass communications because in many ways to speak of the masses is to hold them in contempt. I see a country of dead televisions on the horizon, and in the far distance, the dissolution of nation states. For all that I can't deny there are historical continuities, or that Agamben hasn't identified a salient feature of contemporary democracies, even as they enter into the new millenium and the distributions of glory become more decentralized.
"I power Blogger." Is there anything secret about this nourishment of power? There may be something exaggerated about it. Blogging for me is like washing the dishes; I do it every day despite the fact it's not economically valued. Some bloggers receive economic rewards for their blogging, and dishing out glory and inglory can influence elections and what is called public opinion, though possibly there are signs of growing fragmentation. For Ambagen, however, dishing out criticism (or inglory) isn't part of the picture. My complaint against media in relation to politics would be that they have too often reveled in glory and inglory instead of providing proper criticism, so I halfway appreciate Agamben's argument. However, I struggle with the meaning of proper criticism. It means deflating glory and inglory as well, I reckon, but beyond that I struggle with its meaning.
Even though my leisure may seem different from Agamben's divine inactivity, it's good to think about it and the kinds of nourishment I should or should not want it to provide. The question of inoperativity, however, gives me pause. Is that also what Agamben means by leisure, or is inoperativity part of the cover up of leisure? What should I do about inoperativity?

Poetry of the future would embody a harmony of five eternal powers: Truth, Beauty, Delight, Life and the Spirit

The Future Poetry ... Posted on Oct 24th, 2007 by Jim
This whole piece is quoted and not my own work. I feel it would be of interest to poets and budding poets everywhere … and especially those that inhabit Zaadz. At the end of the article is the link to see where the piece came from. I feel it is something worth investigating … and, I'll read further … I hope you do also.
quote: The Future Poetry
Sri Aurobindo, not only expressed his spiritual thought and vision in intricate metaphysical reasoning and in rich and subtly perceptive psychological terms, but also in profound and beautiful poetry. In Sri Aurobindo's theory of poetry, written under the title The Future Poetry, we can appreciate the importance he attached to art and culture for the significance it has for the spiritual evolution of mankind. He believed that a new, deep, and intuitive poetry could be a powerful aid to the change of consciousness and the life required to achieve the spiritual destiny of mankind which he envisioned. Unlike philosophy or psychology, poetry could make the reality of the Spirit living to the imagination and reveal its beauty and delight and captivate the deeper soul of humanity to its acceptance. It is perhaps in Sri Aurobindo's own poetry, particularly in his epic poem Savitri, that we find the fullest and most powerful statement of his spiritual thought and vision...
unquote. Here's the link that this article came from

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's Integral Yoga, and Wilber's Integral Movement, are totally distinct

M. Alan Kazlev is a self-taught esotericist and metaphysician, science fiction writer and fan, amateur biologist and palaeontologist, and student of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings and yoga. His website is at and he can be contacted at alankazlev (at) ihug (dot) com (dot) au (sorry – problems with spam!). For Integral World he has written two series of essays on integral philosophy: Towards a Larger View of Integral (4 Parts) and Integral Esotericism (8 Parts).
Wilber and Aurobindo - A reply to Joe Perez - M. Alan Kazlev
Frank Visser, the webmaster of Integral World, was kind enough to invite me to reply to a critique by Joe Perez of the thesis expressed in my latest essay "Redefening Integral". Hence the present essay.
Before beginning, I would like to state that I genuinely like and greatly respect Joe as a person. For all our intellectual disagreement, I do feel that he and I are working for the same thing, to elevate the collective consciousness, and to make this world a better place. So I do not want to give the impression that, in refuting his passionate critique, I think any of the less of his excellent contributions, or the constructive role he has in the Integral movement. And of course I greatly value any and all intelligent criticism of my work, because how else can one's own ideas and insights grow, if not through constructive criticism?
In keeping with academic convention, I use surname as mode of address in this essay – e.g. “Wilber”, “Perez”. I make an exception with “Sri Aurobindo” because that is the name he requested to be addressed as (as opposed to just “Aurobindo”).
I'd like to set the stage with a recapitulation of my previous essay. It is however difficult to summarise my position, because it is developing all the time, so each summary is also a recreation and a re-definition. But basically, I argue that there is no common definition of the word “Integral”, and because of this the Wilberian definition is adopted by default. Hence the need for a new definition, or perhaps, since there already are so many definitions around, a redefinition that can incorporate all the previous definitions.
It is true that Wilber established the current Integral movement, lifting the word from Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser, who each independently defined it. But the Integral movement is rapidly growing beyond the mainstream Wilberian (or Wilber-Beck) position (Integral sensu stricto) to a larger and more encompassing Integralism. I also believe that this is part of, or even synonymous with, a global consciousness shift, so that words like Integral, New Paradigm, New Age, Rising Culture, Global Mindshift, and Paragonian Society all become synonymous. My very controversial statement in “Redefining Integral” is that this is the beginning of a “singularity” (to use Transhumanist terminology) or evolutionary-transcendent leap of consciousness, and that this was triggered by the descent of Divine Consciousness (Supramentalisation) initiated by Sri Aurobindo's co-worker The Mother. So not only are amazing things happening now, but even more amazing things will happen.
Even though Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's Integral Yoga, and Wilber's Integral Movement, are totally distinct, one being a supreme method of Yoga, and esoteric (“inner” in the sense of based on spiritual gnosis, not in the context of Wilber's quadrants) in nature, the other part of the planetary Paradigm Shift on the exoteric (“outer”) level, a larger Integral transformation includes both. But this means that certain restrictive and religious tendencies within the mainstream Integral movement (i.e. Orthodox Wilberism) have to be addressed. Otherwise the exoteric movement Wilber initiated (but which has already gone far beyond him) would degenerate into just another religion. Note that “exoteric” is not a pejorative; exoteric and esoteric are equally necessary. Exotericism only becomes negative when it usurps the higher spiritual truth and claims it for itself, as in cultic and religious extremism.
Having summarised where I stand now, I can respond to Perez's critique. I'll do this in the way that is easiest for me, as if it were an email, of which certain passages may be highlighted.
Criticizing online chat rooms as a way of attacking the forum sponsor is invalid. It's like criticizing a magazine based on their published "letters to the editor"
I disagree. The Integral Movement is not just about books or institutions alone. It is also very much an online community; mostly young (I'm an oldie at 49), articulate, and internet savvy. This mostly Western community, linked globally via Internet, is not just the “letters page”, it is the magazine. The Internet thus serves as the “hardware” of the developing noosphere, the global brain.
Perez cites various adjectives I have used, taken out of context to make it seem more derogatory than I hope my essay really is. But I agree that my language could have been toned down a little, so I do take his point on board. However if one is too meek and mild, then no criticism is possible. It is a fine question of balance.
He asks the question
Which teachings and themes are included [in the Lager Integral Movement] that are excluded from the Integral Movement [sensu stricto]? Kazlev doesn't say, nor does he cite evidence that such teachings are in fact excluded from the Integral Movement.
There are actually three factors that differentiate the Larger Integral Movement from the original Wilberian movement:
AQAL/SDi metaphysics versus a broader interdisciplinary approach,
Inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness,
and lack of religiosity rather than personality cult.
AQAL/SDi metaphysics versus a broader interdisciplinary approach.
I know that Wilber doesn't like the word “metaphysics”, but I am talking here about the idea that reality has a sort of “deep structure” in terms of progressive stages and quadrants, not about supra-physical realities. Here, Wilber's AQAL “map” of reality, and Don Beck's adaptation of Spiral Dynamics, define the Integral cosmology and psychology. (Wilber's methodological perspectives can also be included here). There is a strong influence on developmental psychology, but the hard sciences are not so well served (as indicated by Wilber's well-known problems with understanding Darwinian science).
But when other (non Wilber-Beck) Integralist systems are brought in to the mix, AQAL and Spiral Dynamics now become one or two systems among many. This allows a much broader field of discourse, without an exclusive focus on AQAL or Spiral Dynamics alone. Consider for example journals like Kosmos, Conscious Evolution, and Integral Review and forums like Integral Praxis and Zaadz. The whole conceptual framework, the ecology of ideas, is far richer.
Exclusiveness versus Inclusiveness.
Wilber himself is famously known for his adversarial attitude to other definitions of integral, as well as his allergy to anything “green” (which goes back even to his pre-Spiral Dynamics days; see Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, and A Brief History of Everything). Then there is the ill-feeling towards the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the more recent treatment of Erwin László in Integral Spirituality, verging on the ad hominem. One also finds assessment, although not derogatory or critical, of Paul Ray, and Jorge Ferrer as being of the “green” vMEME level (to use the spiral dynamics system). Therefore, one characteristic of the Integral movement sensu stricto (although I am not saying it is shared by everyone) is exclude from Integral those definitions that are not compatible with the Wilber and Beck's AQAL and SDi methodologies and framework.
In contrast, the Larger Integral Movement is able to honour all definitions of Integral, without denigration or claiming exclusiveness for one's own position. I am not saying that the Integral Movement sensu strictu can't do this either. In fact I look forward to the development of a more tolerant and universal “second generation” Integral Movement. This would still follow the AQAL/SDi framework, but would be more tolerant, more universal, more accepting of “green” (including rather than opposing), and also pay more attention to scholarship and real science.
Charismatic Sect versus Lack of religiosity.
I have already commented on the tendency of some people in the Integral Movement to see Wilber in an almost religious manner, bandying around words like “boddhisattvic”, as well as use of argument from authority, ingroup/outgroup (or fan/critic) dichotomy, and other phenomena characteristic of a charismatic cult or new religion (see “2d. Cultic tendencies” in “A Four-Fold Critique” here on Integral World). My thesis was confirmed by a series of blog posts and essays published here on Integral World (see Scott Parker "Winning the Integral Game?", and follow-up essays by Shawn Heath and an anonymous poster).
This charismatic attitude is not found in the larger Integral Movement, where Wilber's ideas are still respected, but he is no longer seen through rose-coloured glasses. The Larger Integral Movement can still include many religions and ideologies, but it itself should not be a religion; it should not be dependent on the personality of one individual.
Wilber himself has repeatedly responded to charges that his evolutionary model is rigid and inflexible (for example, in the Introduction to the revised version of Sex, Ecology, Spirituality), and has elaborated on the many ways that his model allows for a great deal of flexibility.
True, Wilber has responded to these charges. But so far he has not backed up his words with action. Even his latest books still present a cosmology in which all existence is railroaded from atom to nondual (as shown in his AQAL diagram, his altitude levels, and so on). If Wilber really does believe that evolution is more flexible, more spontaneous, more diverse, and also more diverging (consider the phylogeny of life on Earth for example e.g. The Tree of Life Project), more unplanned, more surprising, more unpredictable, than that, he has yet to incorporate this insight into his written work.
Moreover, Wilber never claims that successive stages of evolution "will emerge in a progressively shorter and more overlapping time-frame"
Did I say that he did?
Unfortunately, Kazlev falls into the same trap as many contemporary pop-atheist writers: he does not define religion, but writes as if everyone knows what he is talking about, and then attacks it as "dysfunctional" and a "cult" without actually making any useful distinctions between the different varieties of religion.
It is true that I am assuming that everyone knows what I am talking about. Were one to present a typology of religions, or go into detail on the distinction between “religion” and “spirituality” (at least as I see it), it would require many more pages. What I am talking about here is a religion based around a single charismatic individual, and consequent intellect literalism that results from this. See for example Len Oakes, Prophetic Charisma (1997, Syracuse University Press) for an intriguing psychological study of charismatic religious leaders (I can't say I agree with everything he says though). See also part 2d. “Cultic tendencies” of my essay “A Four-Fold Critique” for why I feel this is also applicable to Wilberian orthodoxy.
The thrust of Kazlev's argument may be characterized as saying that Ken Wilber does not recognize the higher "Post-Integral" stages of consciousness such as Divinisation recognized by Sri Aurobindo. However, this is prima facie false. In Integral Spirituality, Wilber identifies the Integral level of consciousness with the turquoise label, and then identifies indigo, violet, ultraviolet, and clear light labels for subsequent stages of consciousness (stages which are actually defined using the labels of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy).
It is true that Wilber identifies higher levels of consciousness beyond Turquoise/Integral, and that he associates them with Sri Aurobindo's ascending ladder of realisation as described by the latter in The Life Divine. However, Wilber's interpretation of Sri Aurobindo here and elsewhere is deeply flawed, as Brant Cortright (Psychotherapy and Spirit: Theory and Practice in Transpersonal Psychotherapy, SUNY 1997, p78), Rod Hemsell ("Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Perspective") and I (“Ken Wilber and Sri Aurobindo” - and “An Aurobindonian vision”) have all shown.
I'll give just one example. According to Wilber, Vision Logic/Upper Tier/Integral/Yellow and Turquoise is the same as Sri Aurobindo's Higher Mind (see e.g. Integral Psychology, p.200 , and “The Guru and the Pandit” in What Is Enlightenment, no.29, June-August 2005, p.54). But this is incorrect. The difference is that Higher Mind comes after realisation of the nondual/absolute, when one has a choice between a transcendent liberation and drawing down even further levels of consciousness (see The Life Divine (10th ed.), pp. 276-277 and my "Nirvana vs. Dynamic Descent"). The Higher Mind is the first of these trans-enlightened levels. Wilber's Psychic, Subtle, Causal and so on correspond to Sri Aurobindo's earlier stages of Inner Being and Spiritualisation. In “An Aurobindonian vision” I have also shown how Wilber's spiritual stages are actually based on those of his former guru Adi Da. Because he simplistically considers all spiritual states part of the same linear series, he claims in his tables correlating different systems (see The Atman Project and Integral Psychology) that Da's “Seventh Stage” and Sri Aurobindo's “Supermind” are the same.
I have no problem with Wilber's stages as long as they are acknowledged to be his interpretation of Tibetan Buddhist, Vedantic, and Taoist stages of consciousness leading to transcendent liberation (which, as mentioned, is prior to “Higher Mind” and other stages of Divinisation).
However, any claim that Wilber ignores Sri Aurobindo should at least examine Wilber's relevant writings and identify their insufficiency (how is Divinisation really different from the stage of consciousness identified as ultraviolet or clear light in Wilber's Integral Spirituality? Does not Wilber incorporate Aurobindo's gnosis, but simply not make the transmission of this gnosis the focus of his book?).
How is Divinisation different from the stage of consciousness identified as ultraviolet or clear light in Wilber's Integral Spirituality? This has already been explained both in “An Aurobindonian vision” and in parts 19 to 22 of “Redefining Integral
Doesn't Wilber incorporate Sri Aurobindo's gnosis? I'm afraid he doesn't, because central to the Aurobindonian vision is the Divinisation of matter and the transformation of this world (see The Life Divine bk two, ch.27-28 , see also the whole of Mother's Agenda for how this is put into practice – a condensed version here), which means the end of history as we know it, something that Wilber specifically rejects in favour of the traditional Vedantic and Buddhist-inspired “Yoga of Ascent” (Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Collected Works, 2nd edition, pp. 317-8, 323-5, etc). I am not saying that these other paths and teachings (which Wilber has been inspired by) are no good; they are very profound and admirable. I am just distinction between the “Yoga of Ascent” which seeks to transcend the world and phenomenal existence, and the “Yoga of Descent” taught by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother which seeks to utterly transform and divinise it.
I find much value in Kazlev's serious attention to the Aurobindian tradition. It would be a terrible shame if serious students of Integral were put off study of this wise and valuable tradition because they encountered a presentation which regarded others in the Integral Movement with such a demeaning and derogatory framework.
It is certainly not my intention to be demeaning or derogatory, and I apologise for any ill-feeling my essay may cause or have caused to some people with loyalty to Wilber and his work.
But the unfortunate fact remains that the whole Aurobindonian tradition has been and is being seriously misinterpreted – I don't think bastardised is too strong a word - by well-meaning but ignorant advocates of Integralism, attempting to remold Sri Aurobindo's teachings as a simplistic metaphysical precursor to AQAL.
There can be little doubt that the root of this problem lies with Wilber's own misunderstanding of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual philosophy. As Rod Hemsell has shown, this is apparent even in the earlier phases of his work (Atman Project – Wilber II). Wilber himself is certainly not to be blamed for this, as there is so much knowledge in the world today that it is simply not possible for one human being, no matter how intelligent or how competent a speed reader, to understand the whole world (see “Insufficient Study and Contemplation results in Superficial Understanding of Specialized Knowledge”). And to properly understand Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's Yoga requires tremendous sincerity and aspiration, not just a brief skim reading. The reading itself has to be a meditation, the pages returned to time after time. Just as with any authentic spiritual tradition.
Wilber's error here was then compounded through the memetic (sensu Dawkins) dispersal of his well-meaning misinterpretations, through his own work and that of others who have been influenced by him. As a result, more people are adopting a false version of what Sri Aurobindo taught and achieved. That he is, so Wilber informs us, a “theorist” (someone who spent forty years in intense practical yoga was a theorist?). That he ignores the “lower quadrants” (what about The Human Cycle, or his studies of Indian culture?). That his profound Synthesis of Yoga is just another version of Nondualism, and his Supramentalisation just another representation of the “Clear Light” (the last three chapters of The Life Divine and the entire Synthesis of Yoga says otherwise). To say nothing of the striking absence of any reference to Sri Aurobindo's co-worker, whom he advised all his own disciples to consider the physical incarnation of the Divine (hence Mirra's title “The Mother” - for more see Sri Aurobindo, The Mother, Collected Works Vol.25, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram) by Wilber and his students.
So yes, it is conceded that some mainstream Integralists may be put off by my brusque and assertive manner, a character trait that most Aurobindonians are happily not afflicted with. But it would also be fair to say that I am not the only practitioner of the Integral Yoga path who feels some disquiet at this pop Aurobindo that appears repeatedly in mainstream Integralist writings. At the appropriation of Sri Aurobindo's name in the service of a philosophy that, no matter how well-intentioned and useful, is - with its emphasis on procrustean mental classifications and traditional world-negating nondualism - affirming the opposite to his own unique and world-affirming yogic message.
And what I find immensely encouraging about this newer, more universal form of Integralism that has begun to emerge over the last few years, is that it provides a framework with which all streams of Integral can converge in a greater synergetic whole, without one lording it over all the rest. As I said in my previous essay, I am not advocated a limited Aurobindocentric approach. That would be as bad as the current Wilbercentric one; it would only be replacing one religion with another. Rather, I am advocating a universal, all-inclusive definition of Integralism (and post-Integral, and post-post Integral...), as an adjunct to the transformation of the entire world. Which is in keeping with what Sri Aurobindo himself meant when he coined the word ”Integral” in a spiritual context in his masterwork The Synthesis of Yoga.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It is capitalism and the capitalist system that offer a healthy channel for the redirection of negative psychic energy into something positive

The careful observation and analysis of behavior is what I do for a living. I am very good at it; and I enjoy my profession. By helping people become aware of what they are doing that wreaks so much havoc in their life, I help them to change their behavior and therefore their lives. By pointing out and helping them to understand some of the unconscious motivations and conflicts they have, I help them to understand the psychological defenses they have employed which may be getting in the way of their pursuit of happiness. By making the unconscious conscious, we begin to understand why they are behaving irrationally and why the have problems in their life. The goal is to get them to abandon those defenses that are distorting reality and holding them back; and to develop a new synthesis so that even their conflicts are put to a positive and productive use in their life.
When there is a physiological component, I also from time to time, prescribe medication so that their nervous system can optimally cope with the real world. This levels the playing field, so to speak; but even when medication is prescribed, only by looking at all the factors that come into play in an individual life--Biological, psychological, and social--am I able to help individuals change the course of their life. It is rarely only a "chemical imbalance" (although sometimes it is). The example I use with my medical students is the following:
A woman who comes to see me is profoundly depressed and suicidal because her husband beats her and her marriage is hell. She meets all the diagnostic criteria for a major depressive disorder, and it is clear that the prescription of an antidepressant might be very helpful. In fact, that is what the woman wants.
However, even if I prescribe the medication, I must gently point out to her that no amount of medication for her is going to change her husband's behavior. Only by changing her own behavior can she change things in her marriage-- e.g., she can leave him; she can demand that he get help; she can suggest conjoint counseling--whatever. Or, she can accept that he will continue to behave a certain way (beating her) and accept that. But the medicine will not magically make any of these things happen. All it will do is give her the physiological strength to cope better. She can accept this reality.
Or, she might use denial and continue to believe that medication for her will change her husband's behavior. She might use fantasy to pretend that when her "illness" is cured, her husband will realize what a wonderful person she is and stop beating her up; she might use hypochondriasis, developing migraine headaches or other more serious symptoms that keep her away from her husband; she could be passive-aggressive, buying her spouse his favorite alcoholic drink that is the frequent disinhibitor that leads to him hitting her; she might use displacement and blame her husband's employer --who doesn't appreciate him--for her husband's aggressive behavior toward herself. If she listens to what I am telling her, she might use anticipation and begin to plan to leave the situation at home an go someplace else. She might then find she has a knack for helping women who have abusive husbands and train to be a counselor (altruism); or find that she has acting ability and play the lead in a local production of "Cat on A Hot Tin Roof" (sublimation).
In fact she could use ANY of the many psychological defenses to help her cope with her problem.
Psychological defense mechanisms give people the psycholgoical strength to cope with the vissictitudes of an ever-changing and often unpredictable reality. Some defenses are more useful than others for that purpose and one of the goals of mature adult functioning is to abandon the immature and problematic strategies that can only ultimately make things worse and which provide little pleasure in their life.
Probably the best description of defenses that I have ever read comes from George Vaillant, in his book The Wisdon of the Ego: (pg. 17 - 18)... Diagnosed by Dr. Sanity @ 5:37 PM 7:32 PM

Muslim version of the evolution starts out with minerals

Pardon My Paradox Fortune favours the lucky About Peace in Mid-East links
Posted by: misterlister 7th Oct, 2007 Islamic Theory of Evolution
I first heard of this when I read a TalkOrigins Post of the Month, from November 1996. I don’t know how such awards are selected. Here’s the claim:
When one studies the Qur’an to see references to creation, it makes much sense to look at Muslim scientists interpretations of certain verses of the Qur’an, who lived in the early days of Islam. When this is studied it is realized that Darwin, who gets the credit for the idea of natural selection and evidence for evolution, was one thousand years late in the discovery.
The Muslim scientists ibn Kathir, ibn Khauldun, ibn Arabi, ibn Sina, among other scientists, such as the Ikhwan school of thought, arrived at the same conclusions as Darwin with a convincing amount of evidence. Every Muslim school and mosque used to teach evolution up until a few hundred years ago. Some westerners, including Darwin’s contemporary, Sir William Draper, called it the Mohammedan Theory of Evolution. Draper admitted that the Muslim version was more advanced than Darwin’s, because in the Muslim version, the evolution starts out with minerals.
Different is not the same as “more advanced”. In this case, perhaps “more extreme” would be appropriate. Evolution, in the modern concept, applies to living things. When Islamic scholars applied it to minerals, their thoughts were along the line of Alchemy. From wiki:
“When common people hear from natural philosophers that gold is a body which has attained to perfection of maturity, to the goal of completeness, they firmly believe that it is something which has gradually come to that perfection by passing through the forms of all other metallic bodies, so that its gold nature was originally lead, afterward it became tin, then brass, then silver, and finally reached the development of gold; not knowing that the natural philosophers mean, in saying this, only something like what they mean when they speak of man, and attribute to him a completeness and equilibrium in nature and constitution - not that man was once a bull, and was changed into an ass, and afterward into a horse, and after that into an ape, and finally became a man.” History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science — William Draper
So the common people imagined Gold at the end of a “Great Chain of Being”. And apparently that is not what the scholars meant. The scholars meant that Gold arose by a process similar to that by which man arose. What was that process?
The Mu’tazili scientist and philosopher al-Jahiz (c. 776-869) was the first of the Muslim biologists and philosophers to develop an early theory of evolution. He speculated on the influence of the environment on animals, considered the effects of the environment on the likelihood of an animal to survive, and first described the struggle for existence and an early theory on natural selection. Al-Jahiz wrote the following on the struggle for existence:
“Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.” [Gary Dargan, palaeontologist and a practising Muslim, during a debate on ABC]
Wiki also lists some other Muslim scientists who wrote about evolution and says that their work was translated into Latin and reached the West after the Renaissance. It also quotes from a summary by Muhammad Hamidullah. He says Islamic scholars gave God credit for creating matter; giving it energy, so that it became vapour then water; mineral life, stones — their highest form being coral. [note: Coral is an animal, Coral Reefs are the structures they build.]
There are clearly things which are simply argument by analogy. For instance: coral has branches like a tree; the date palm “does not wither if all its branches are chopped but it dies when the head is cut off” — so it’s like an animal. And through such analogy they link minerals to plants to animals.
In fact, Hamidullah’s summary reads something like a Great Chain of Being — which was associated with commoners earlier — while al-Jahiz’s description reminds of natural selection. Clearly, things weren’t agreed upon throughout. But these were mainstream ideas, taught by Muslims to Muslims. Hamidullah ends his summary by reminding us that the theories are firmly within a theistic belief:
This is not the statement of Darwin. This is what Ibn Maskawayh states and this is precisely what is written in the Epistles of Ikhwan al-Safa. The Muslim thinkers state that ape then evolved into a lower kind of a barbarian man. He then became a superior human being. Man becomes a saint, a prophet. He evolves into a higher stage and becomes an angel. The one higher to angels is indeed none but God. Everything begins from Him and everything returns to Him. [Muhammad Hamidullah and Afzal Iqbal (1993), The Emergence of Islam: Lectures on the Development of Islamic World-view, Intellectual Tradition and Polity]
There’s a lot of irony in all this. Consider the claims by the likes of Harun Yahya regarding the Quran’s supposed description of the Big Bang — why didn’t Muslim scholars talk about that 1000 years ago? — while at the same time Yahya argues that evolution is intrinsically atheistic and un-Islamic. Categories: Commentators Evolution My Soapbox Philosophy Religion Science

Friday, October 19, 2007

A causal relationship from economic and social factors (late capitalism, Empire) to cultural and intellectual ones (the postmodern)

Anderson Joined: 17 Oct 2007 Posts: 6 Location: DC Metro
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:35 pm Post subject: The PoMo issue.
Or set of issues. I think it would be useful to sniff around and in between the following questions, to see where the trails lead:
  • What is the postmodern, as a phenomenon, and in terms of what postmodern writers or thinkers may think about it?
  • How does the reality of the postmodern condition (if there is such a thing), or the conditions of the postmodern (whatever those may be, if they are) compare to Wilber's interpretation (or polemic) regarding the postmodern?

This is a useful way to frame the issue of what the postmodern may have to offer integral--to figure out what it is (if it is), how it works or is worked upon, how it circulates as a meme, and finally how it arose as a historical phenomenon (that is out of concrete historical phenomena) and to what purpose. And it leads to a bit of speculation that I've been entertaining for a while: is integral, at bottom, a postmodern phenomenon in and of itself? It's not an accident that it arose when it did, where it did (under the same subjective conditions that produced the postmodern). If so, then the hypersensitivity about the postmodern in some integral circles is a bit ironic, or more precisely, anxious. Like a man with a big nose trying to innoculate himself against big-nosedness. (Full disclosure: I have quite a horn on the face of me.)

I think this is an integral way to approach the question of the postmodern, even though it may look a bit reductive, in that I'm positing implicitly a causal relationship from economic and social factors (late capitalism, Empire) to cultural and intellectual ones (the postmodern). I'm not trying to reduce one to the other; I'd like to emphasize that. Instead, I'm trying to get a snapshot of the whole picture all at once, the subjective and the superstructure, &c, and to figure out where the flows go and what regulates them (with "flows" referring specifically here to Deleuze as well as to Roy's Process Model).

I find much value in Kazlev's serious attention to the Aurobindian tradition

Unfortunately, Kazlev falls into the same trap as many contemporary pop-atheist writers: he does not define religion, but writes as if everyone knows what he is talking about, and then attacks it as "dysfunctional" and a "cult" without actually making any useful distinctions between the different varieties of religion. Moreover, his rhetoric goes over the top of civility by painting unnamed persons as members of a "cult" without substantiating these allegations with any serious attention to any of their words or actions.
At this point, Kazlev's essay continues to a total of 24 sections. However, when so many of the foundational theses of his argument have such shaky basis, the value of continuing to study Kazlev's essay becomes highly dubious. On the other hand, if you don't need evidence to believe Kazlev's points because you are already convinced of their truth, then you can take his essay as an exercise in storytelling narrative grounded in faith.
I will, however, make one additional point. The thrust of Kazlev's argument may be characterized as saying that Ken Wilber does not recognize the higher "Post-Integral" stages of consciousness such as Divinisation recognized by Sri Aurobindo. However, this is prima facie false. In Integral Spirituality, Wilber identifies the Integral level of consciousness with the turquoise label, and then identifies indigo, violet, ultraviolet, and clear light labels for subsequent stages of consciousness (stages which are actually defined using the labels of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy). Those Post-Integral levels of consciousness are not the focus of his book because he is writing for a specific audience. However, any claim that Wilber ignores Sri Aurobindo should at least examine Wilber's relevant writings
  • (how is Divinisation really different from the stage of consciousness identified as ultraviolet or clear light in Wilber's Integral Spirituality?
  • Does not Wilber incorporate Aurobindo's gnosis, but simply not make the transmission of this gnosis the focus of his book?)

and identify their insufficiency. Without offering a close reading of Wilber's relevant texts, Kazlev's screed sheds less light than he thinks it does. And given the bombast of his anti-Wilber rhetoric, it will probably do little to encourage the mainstream Integral movement to take up the study of Aurobindo.
I find much value in Kazlev's serious attention to the Aurobindian tradition. It would be a terrible shame if serious students of Integral were put off study of this wise and valuable tradition because they encountered a presentation which regarded others in the IM with such a demeaning and derogatory framework.
Joe Perez is a Seattle-based writer. Everyone's got their own definition of Integral. His own definition of Integral (2006)--called STEAM--is found in his book Rising Up: Reflections on Gay Culture, Politics, Spirit. This definition is available in a free preview of the ebook version of the book. Posted by joe perez on October 18, 2007 03:00 PM

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hegel's handling of necessity & contingency is often misunderstood by commentators

First: I would never have seen this comment if it weren't for a random Googling; the Sri Auribendio guy just copy/pastes things he likes from other blogs. I'm rather flattered that I was worth copy/pasting, but it still strikes me as kinda creepy. (This is to say: I will probably not see anything you post here. If by chance you see this and want to respond, it would probably be better to just drag up the old thread at An Und Fur Sich. Or something on my own blog, SOH-Dan.)
I don't read the Petry translations because I can't afford them. Miller has (relatively) cheap paperbacks. Petry has multi-volume sets that run in the hundreds of dollars. Simple as that. I would be happy to end up with a friendlier view of the PoN. I'm not sure why the PoN would be a particularly natural place to find a "safety valve" of contingency, but I agree that Hegel's handling of necessity & contingency is often misunderstood by commentators. Posted by Daniel to Musepaper at 11:54 AM, October 18, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Studying the words of the ancient masters does not change a thing

John said... I very much like Neil Postman. What he says is good to a point but we now live in a totally different Quantum world in which everything is quite literally inter-connected and whatever Wisdom there was in the past is now long since dead and buried.
Studying the words of the ancient masters does not change a thing, it just becomes one of the left-brained mind games which dominate our "universities" and our "culture" altogether. This essay provides a unique understanding of the limits of our inherited Wisdom plus a profound critique of our current so called "culture".
Plus the only thing that makes a real difference is a totally integrated culture of Spiritual Practice under the guidance of a living Spiritual Master. Which is of course totally anathema to us adolescent westerners who "rule" the world.
Meanwhile the barbarians are every where. Especially on the "right" side of the culture wars divide. 3:34 PM, October 16, 2007

Evolutionary transition to a "new species" that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother so tirelessly worked on

Re: Maheshwari and Mahasaraswati in University Education
by RY Deshpande on Mon 15 Oct 2007 02:24 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
In the context of Maheswari and Mahasaraswati aspects in the university education, reference may be made to the article The Athenian and the Visigoths posted today at RYD
Re: Maheshwari & Mahasaraswati... [Athenians, Visigoths & College Dropouts]
by ronjon on Mon 15 Oct 2007 12:20 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Hi RY, Thanks for posting the Athenians/Visigoths article by Neil Postman. I recall his book about the Visigoth wasteland of modern TV replacing more Athenian-like reading for many Americans. When I looked him up in Wikipedia, I was amused to see they described him as "an old-fashioned humanist," which is similar to the impression I had when I read his article. I realize that his arguments are perhaps even more relevant today than when he wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death in 1985 -- e.g. this sobering statistic: "21 million Americans can't read at all, 45 million are marginally illiterate and one-fifth of high school graduates can't read their diplomas."
And yet, and yet... I'm realizing that my current concerns aren't so much bemoaning the many horrors of modernity, but rather in tracking and to some degree participating in new cultural tendencies that are perhaps indicators of the kind of evolutionary transition to a "new species" that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother so tirelessly worked on. I'm convinced that a truly new kind of cultural transformation is the only hope for our globalizing world beset by powerful technologies whose destructive potential is increasingly out of balance with our capability to use them wisely.
So, allow me to reference another article posted on SCIY nearly two years ago that presents another perspective on American (higher) education. Interestingly, it's an actual college graduation speech, the invited Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs (the co-Founder and Chairman/CEO of Apple, Inc.) in June 2005 to the graduating class at Stanford University, one of the two (along with Harvard) most elite liberal arts colleges in the U.S. Steve titled his address "You've got to find what you love ...". I think it's interesting to juxtapose it with Neil Postman's article, and I'm wondering how you would rank his perspective with respect to our current dialogue re "Maheshwari and Mahasaraswati in University Education"? Here are Steve's concluding words:
...When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you."
(The "Whole Earth Catalogue" had an important formative influence on me as well, so I naturally relate to Steve's comment.) "Heartfully", ~ ronjon

Monday, October 15, 2007

There is absolutely nothing in Sri Aurobindo’s luminous writings that justifies an ideological hatred of Islam or Muslims

I’ve linked to the Science, Culture, and Integral Yoga blog on my own blog under the category of “Integral Philosophy”. This is a very high-quality blog, whose authors are very much on top of things intellectually, both scientific and spiritual. I highly recommend it for people who obsessively follow the global dialogue between science and spirituality.
In particular, what I’ve really enjoyed on the SCIY blog is how it endeavours to show that Sri Aurobindo is being misread and misinterpreted both by the far left and the far right in India. The far left sees Sri Aurobindo as some sort of a racialist or Hindu supremacist, whereas the Hindutva ideologues use Sri Aurobindo to argue for a military conquest of Pakistan or for some sort of ideological hatred of Islam and Muslims. It makes my heart weep, frankly, to see this happening. The reality of course is quite different, as the Master’s writings on human unity and the future evolution of mankind make very clear.
Sri Aurobindo was unequivocally against Hindu nationalism, seeing it as an obsolete notion that was not applicable in the modern world. To the extent that he took a harsh tone about Muslim fundamentalism in India, it was only to preserve secular democracy, and not to promote Hindu nationalism. Did you know that Sri Aurobindo spoke very highly of the Prophet Muhammad, calling him a great yogi (Yogishreshtha)?
Of course there are many things about traditional Islam that I think are obsolete and should be tossed out without a moment’s thought. But I can criticize or bash just about any religion as easily as I can Islam. I could dip into the shastras and smritis of Hinduism and find all sorts of ridiculous nonsense in there. We know that all the religions of the world have lost their spiritual roots and become reduced to mental formulas, social codes, and dogmas. The living God has long withdrawn from all the religions of the world.
I will be honest and say that Islam was not the path for me, for a number of reasons, which I won’t go into right now. But there is absolutely nothing in Sri Aurobindo’s luminous writings that justifies an ideological hatred of Islam or Muslims or the Prophet Muhammad, or that can justify some sort of ideological need to destroy Pakistan through military action. The more I research the situation in India, the more it seems to me that the Hindutva movement is ideological and emotional, and not actually grounded in spiritual consciousness. Any movement that seeks to restore some sort of glorious age in the past can only be described with one word: reactionary.
Sri Aurobindo never said Vedic India was some sort of absolute ideal; in fact he explicitly acknowledges that of the four cycles of human social evolution that he describes — symbolic/infrarational, ethical/feudal, individualistic/rational, and subjective/suprarational — Vedic India corresponds to the symbolic or infrarational stage. There was of course spiritual inspiration behind Vedic India, and there must have been some highly realized rishis at the time, but humanity as a whole was still at a very immature, infrarational stage of growth. It is only now that we have some hope of advancing psychologically from the infrarational to the rational to the transrational as a collective. When Sri Aurobindo tells us to restore the eternal Veda, he is talking about the inspiration behind the Veda, which is transhistorical. But every religious text or social code is deeply embedded in a specific sociohistorical context and is bound in time and space.
Make no mistake about it: Sri Aurobindo belongs to the whole of humanity, and to the future. There is no mythical atavism in either his or the Mother’s teachings.
As Bel Atreides writes in a brilliant paper entitled “Auroville and the New Creation” (Auroville being the universal township founded by the Mother in India):
. . . beyond churches and ethics and religious ministers and cults and superstition, beyond all this roof that prevents us from seeing the Sky and God in it among the high golden eagles, at the very core of each messiah’s word and act and symbol, there is a truth and a possibility and a weapon and a conquest which can be recovered to transform our nature and the world’s. For there is Christ with his word and gesture of love, with Love turned into weapon and principle of transformation and resurrection; there he is resuming in his person and feat Osiris and Adonis and Attis and Tammuz and Dionysus and Zagreus and Liber, his predecessors in Mediterranean lands, and symbolizing and conquering the immortal destiny of the Cosmic Man. There is Krishna with his word of devotion inaugurating the divine action, the labor entirely consecrated to God, establishing by the strength of his sword divine and his council a Dharmaraja, an empire of Dharma and truth upon Earth, and winning for man the planes and the consciousness of the gods. And there is Mahomet, with his message of Islam — surrender — and force; and Buddha, opening for the man tired of the phenomenic world, the Door of the Eternal Silence, Nirvana, the only possible extinction. There is Ramakrishna reviving and realizing in himself the truths of the Tantra, Vedanta, Christianity and Islam. There are, finally, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother conquering for the Earth and Man the Truth-Consciousness and opening the way to a body and a matter divinized and immortal. And all of them, all these Heralds of the Ages to come and Bearers of Glory, are not there as jealous and confronted eminences but as a single group of pioneers in a same terra incognita: the future evolution of man.
Why then do we continue this childish competition over who has a monopoly over Truth? Meanwhile the Supreme Wisdom laughs above our heads as we continue to indulge in folly after folly. I thought Richard Hartz, one of the SCIY contributors, put it really well in his article “Untold Potentialities — India and the World in the Third Millenium”: not Hindutva, but Ekatva — oneness — is the ideal.
My views on this subject are however very much evolving, and I realize this is a controversial area, so I would appreciate and take note of any criticism or feedback.