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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Evaluation of positions is infinitely deferred

The central problem with religion is that it ties us to authority– the authority of texts, figures, priests, and institutions –as the condition of political organization and what is right and good. As such, it inscribes servitude in the very structure of political action. Even in a leftist variant, such a structure is still, to use Deleuze and Guattari’s term, organized around micro-fascist desires. Why not instead envision community, collectivity, and action that arises from people themselves? I honestly don’t get it and am sure I’ll be beat up for asking whether such people literally believe the things two paragraph above.
There will be weasel words, rationalizations, gymnastics, and all sorts of contortions as to how there’s something more going on here. But for the life of me, if you don’t believe there’s something supernatural here, why call it religion and why associate yourself with such a thing? The same goes for talk about “spirituality” too. Newsflash. I think things are interconnected too. I’m filled with wonder and joy at the beauty of this. I wonder at the vastness of the universe. Yet I wouldn’t describe any of this as “spiritual” or “religious”. So what’s this all about?

I’m literally horrified by the fact that collectively we have knowledge (and I’m not making any bullshit, postmodern qualifications about this) or that an argument is better than another, and the fact that changes nothing. We know yet nothing changes. It drives me nuts. We have the better argument (and no, I’m not saying I always have the better argument, though narcissistically I suffer from the flaw of thinking I do) and it doesn’t persuade. It drives me nuts. I’m horrified by this. My horror first began with how the American public responded following 9-11 (especially in the lead up to the Iraq war). It’s grown worse and worse in the intervening years as I’ve watched growing religious fanaticism (which is mainstream Christianity in the States… Sorry Episcopals, UU’s, and UCC’s, you’re the minority), as I’ve watched mainstream responses to our economic problems, as I watch the way in which environmental issues are shuffled off the table. It drives me crazy. No matter how much psychoanalysis I learn, no matter how much ideology critique I learn, it never ceases to amaze me. I never cease to be shocked at how bad our decision making processes are; at how bad our long-term reasoning is; at how malicious we can be. Hence my love of the Stoics and Epicureans: 

The frustrating thing I encounter among continentals again and again is that all too often (a statistical claim), it seems impossible for there to be a genuine disagreement over positions. If one says “I disagree with X on Y because of Z”, the general response is “you’ve misinterpreted X.” In other words, it seems as if the texts of figures are endlessly transformed into Midas’ labyrinth, where the figure being discussed is granted sovereign authority and is the only one permitted to articulate positions and where any evaluation of positions is infinitely deferred behind interpretive disputes. […]
A number of us Continentals have abominable style as well (I’m looking at you Hegel, Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, and Adorno). Yes, yes, I know some folks delight at the “poetry” of these guys. I don’t. I generally read these thinkers despite their style, not for their style. In this regard, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask for clarity. I know the arguments as to why these styles are necessary. Nonetheless, you’re still asking readers to invest their time. You should take some time in return.
So what, then, would a vivid style be for me? A vivid style– and I doubt Graham will agree here –would be something between the arresting and mind thrilling pyrotechnics of Zizek, Dennett, and Bennett with their examples, humor, and thought experiments, the poetry of Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze, and the rigor and clarity of Hegel, Quine, Sellars, Spinoza, Parfit, and Priest. Somehow it would manage to synthesize all of this in writing. However, above all, such a writing would also always be centered on the extra-philosophical importance of what it is discussing: the ethical, the political, the existential… The “why it matters”. 

The fallacy of mood affiliation by Tyler Cowen on March 31, 2011 Recently I wrote: It seems to me that people are first choosing a mood or attitude, and then finding the disparate views which match to that mood and, to themselves, justifying those views by the mood… 1:47 PM 

As I have said before, at the center of all psychological denial is a hidden agenda. That agenda is usually not completely conscious--meaning that the denier has not thought through the issues surrounding his denial; and may not even be aware of what his motivation is in asserting something is true when it isn't; or false when it isn't. The entire act of denial about this economy was initiated to justify continuing to spend wildly the taxpayers' money and not have to do anything to slow down that spending because they "hoped" and "wished" that things would get better by doning nothing but spending even more…
Their denial is reflexive and completely willful at this point. They simply refuse to accept reality because the consequences are too excruciatingly painful to contemplate (both with regard to their image of themselves and to the country they were elected to preserve and protect). Since they have no facts to back up their present stance, they must resort to rhetorical ploys and logical fallacies to make their opposition look like they "hate the poor"; or are "racist" etc. etc. blah blah blah.Kkk

Rethinking secularismOpen thread: the power of religion in the public sphere posted by Ruth Braunstein and David Kyuman Kim Four of the world’s leading public intellectuals came together yesterday in the historic Great Hall at Cooper Union to discuss “Rethinking Secularism.” The Immanent Frame
In an electrifying symposium convened by the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU, the Social Science Research Council and the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University, Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West gave powerful accounts of religion in the public sphere. As Craig Calhoun summarized in his closing remarks, the four speakers addressed in different ways the problem of the secular. For Taylor and Habermas, this is centrally the challenge of inhabiting a common world without universally shared absolutes, and of respecting the past while maintaining openness to the future. Butler emphasized the need to start from alterity and the recognition of non-belonging. West added the centrality of poetry, prophecy and empathy for suffering.

What this situation, of the absence of 'Grace' and 'Avatar' in its deeper occult connotation, means is that, Sri Aurobindo is more than his works, prose or poetry, including perhaps his Savitri
Re: What Jugal told me about Record of Yoga by RY Deshpande on Sun 18 Mar 2012 07:33 AM IST Profile |  Permanent Link
And again in Savitri itself we should be careful not to mix up things. For instance, the Book of Yoga in Savitri, Book Seven, is specifically meant for Savitri, and not for you and me, certainly not for me, not even for Aswapati. Ditto for Record of Yoga, and other related writings.

Groomed in a modern academic tradition and post-Enlightenment ideals of creative freedom and social critique, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) turned his attention to yoga and the limits of consciousness in its ability to relate to and transform nature. In the process, he documented scrupulously his experiments and experiences based on a synergistic existential framework of practice. Debashish Banerji correlates the approach to yoga Sri Aurobindo took in his diaries with his later writings, to derive a description of human subjectivity and its powers. Banerji constellates Sri Aurobindo's approach with transpersonal psychology and contemporary lineages of phenomenology and ontology, to develop a transformative yoga psychology redefining the boundaries and possibilities of the human and opening up lines of self-practice towards a wholeness of being and becoming.

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