Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marx and Nietzsche are strong influences on MacIntyre

The latest victim of Manoj Das Gupta is Dr. Radhikaranjan Das, who teaches Sanskrit and Biology in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram School, Pondicherry. He is also a full-fledged Homeopathic doctor and has been successfully treating both Ashram and outside patients from the last twenty years…What the Sri Aurobindo Ashram needs now is basic justice, basic morality and minimum freedom of speech, which is unfortunately lacking despite all the inspiring words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the authorities keep quoting in order to defend their unjust actions.

Now, a generation later, a new group of people accuse the Trustees of the Ashram of being the traitors, and once again the aim is to turn Sri Aurobindo’s teachings into a religion, a thing of the past. Putting themselves forward as the priests of this religion, this group wants to control the thoughts and feelings of those who turn to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for guidance, in order to gain power, position, and influence. Lately they have seized on a nationally and internationally acclaimed biography of Sri Aurobindo, conveniently (for them) written by a firangi Ashramite. By selectively misquoting, misattributing, misrepresenting, decontextualising, and distorting passages from the book, by filing court cases based on trumped-up charges and feeding misinformation to Government officials and the press, they forced the Trustees of the Ashram to come to the author’s defence. This enabled them to attack the Trustees for being complicit in an attempt to “denigrate” Sri Aurobindo and, by annexing Sri Aurobindo to the Indian religious traditions of the past, to frame them as co-conspirators in a universal plot by “Western supremacists” against “the age-old glorious culture and tradition of our Motherland”.

in the present condition of the world there is no possibility of peace and harmony amongst the nations and also within each nation. every religion has become almost extremist. to solve this you need a world government overuling individual nations to have world government is not possible witout a supramental beeing in our midst. let us pray for such an event as early as possible so that the world turns into a divine life as evisaged by him

Human nature, based in the Ignorance, has to address numerous conflicting impulses, each attempting to carry itself out in action despite opposition from some other part of the being. In order to try to rein in these impulses, moral standards, ethical rules, legal frameworks are set up. These systems of laws and social expectations are then used to more or less harmonise the individual’s action with the larger society’s needs. The call of the ego for freedom is illusory in that freedom is not to be found in setting one’s individuality in opposition to everyone or everything else. The gnostic being, acting from the knowledge and will of Divine Knowledge and Force, would automatically harmonise its action with the higher intention, and thus, there is no question of opposition, conflict or need for a moral, ethical or mental law or framework…
Spiritual freedom does not mean a prerogative or license for the expression or enjoyment on the part of the individual ego. It does not arrogate to itself the right to trample down all limits for the aggrandisement of the personality. Rather it is a higher law, not a lower law, and thus, the transcendence of ethical, moral or social standards of law is based on alignment and adherence to the higher law of Oneness and universal harmony in the expression of the Divine Intention.

Intellectual Conservatism by Nikunj February 28, 2011 | 11 Comments
The conservative mind must open again for Hindu Nationalism itself is an inheritor a reformist intellectual tradition, the 19th century Hindu reformist movement of Bengal. At the core of that tradition was a emphasis on social reform to create a basis for national re-generation. This national re-generation of India as a civilization has to be the sole focus of the Right. Religion has its place in this framework, yet it cannot be the cornerstone of it.

Alasdair MacIntyre, whom I have already contrasted to Wilber on a related subject, is one example. For MacIntyre, modernity is a story of slow decline, one which makes the idea of ethical action increasingly meaningless. He is not a naïve Romantic; he knows we can’t go back. But he nevertheless rejects the modern secular liberal world and most of its presuppositions, and hopes to build a world more like the ones that preceded it. He works from a long background of studying post/modern figures like Marx and Nietzsche, who are strong influences in his own analysis... MacIntyre is scarcely alone in this. Writers at Front Porch Republic, like Patrick Deneen and James Matthew Wilson, have a sharply articulate grasp of the Western philosophical tradition from ancient times to the present, often holding PhDs in it (and their grasp of it usually strikes me as deeper than Wilber’s). But they express a Romantic rejection of much of the modern worldview, seeking to return us to a world of conservative traditional communities. Their anti-modernism and anti-postmodernism (the two are of a piece) is not naïve but sophisticated. What MacIntyre and the Front Porchers are doing is described very well by Randall Collins in The Sociology of Philosophies: it is innovation through conservatism. Their approach has a venerable pedigree in philosophy throughout the world, and it is one that I don’t think Wilber adequately recognizes. 

In his parable of the madman, Nietzsche implies that one must be both a little crazy and ahead of one's time to recognize that God is dead -- like a wild-eyed prophet, really, bearing the stark news that men are not yet prepared to accept: […] Again, Nietzsche is refreshingly candid, not to mention poetic, about the implications of deicide. I'll take a deicidal literary genius any day over an atheistic mediocrity, because at least the former points up in spite of himself.
The problem with our contemporary atheists is that they are shaped by an altogether different culture than was Nietzsche, essentially the cramped world of scientism instead of the wider world of art, letters, and literature. You might say that the styleless style of atheism that flows from vulgar scientism is just too facile to be true. With a little education, anyone can believe it, which our trolls prove.
Being a consistent atheist poses as much -- if not more -- of a challenge than being a consistent theist. After all, a theist has the aid of heaven, whereas the atheist must accomplish his promethean -- not to say sisyphean -- task on his own. (Interesting that no matter where man goes, myth has been there first, from stealing light to rolling stones. Myth always comprehends man more than man comprehends myth, unlike, say, science, where this relation is reversed.) … If it is true that myth shapes man -- that there exist preconceptual categories through which thought courses -- then each man is heir to the ontological inclinations of all men, irrespective of whether one calls it theism or atheism.

Anyone who’s studied basic neuroscience knows that human brains are “pattern completion” machines. When something is missing, we guess. When there are parts, we try to devise a whole. When there’s a tendency, we extrapolate.
God is the largest pattern of which our brains can conceive. God generally has all the perfections we can imagine, all combined, no matter the contradictions, on one notion. And   with pattern completing brains, it’s natural to see this in the world, as it’s necessary complement, because that’s the way our brains are made. Evolution, of course, made the brain this way, and this would lead us to believe that completing patterns, and perhaps even a belief in something like God, was somehow good for the survival and flourishing of our species. And perhaps still is. Certainly people seem happier when they believe in something like a God, for whatever that’s worth.
And yet, the very same brains now generally see something like God as irrational. We see no evidence for it, and the hankering for evidence produced the science which produced so much change in our physical worlds. Yet there is a sort of psychological efficacy to God. It impacts how people act, think, and feel. Certainly that is real, as real as a psychosomatic illness! But does that mean we should all just delude ourselves in believing in something we can’t see?
The same goes with notions of immortality, at least of the personal sort. No-one who believes in science can find any reason to support any notion of personal immortality… Ibn Arabi speaks of ecstasy as well as sadness in his erotic poetry, which is Sufism is frequently a way of discussing mystical experience. And it is, as Sells argues, precisely the ambiguity of reference, the fact that what is being discussed could be erotic love for a beloved, or for God, that gives the poetry its power. For in fact, it is the ambiguity that makes it creative, possible of more meanings. Bringing these meanings into the physical world is the only way to anchor them, just as reimagining the physical world is the only way to liberate it. This dialectic cuts both ways.
And so eternity is always present, even as every moment vanishes forever. Nirvana is samsara, and we need to learn to give up everything to gain it completely, and vice-versa. Dreaming can liberate matter, just as matter can anchor dreaming. And while dreaming is closer to eternity, and matter closer to passing away, humans always live between these. The more intensely we bring the dream into reality, the more we eternalize and materialize our dreams, and the more we dream about matter, the more we liberate it, eternalize it.
And this is why everything in the world is potentially holy, sacred, a site for the appearance of eternity, and it is our recreation, our dreaming, that can make it so. But we need to learn to give up our dreams to create new ones, to transform with them, or we become prisoners of them, we lose the link to eternity in the present, that which breaks our tie to craving and binding. This is why the eternity of the present comes at the cost of perpetual dying and rebirth.

Two towers of Europe and America David Brooks New York Times: Mon May 21 2012 Structures created to keep the worst of human nature in check are no longer working
Though the forms were different, the democracies in Europe and the US were based on a similar carefully balanced view of human nature: People are naturally selfish and need watching. But democratic self-government is possible because we’re smart enough to design structures to police that selfishness.
But, over the years, this balanced wisdom was lost. Leaders today do not believe their job is to restrain popular will. Their job is to flatter and satisfy it. A gigantic polling apparatus has developed to help leaders anticipate and respond to popular whims. Democratic politicians adopt the mindset of marketing executives…
Western democratic systems were based on a balance between self-doubt and self-confidence. They worked because there were structures that protected the voters from themselves and the rulers from themselves. Once people lost a sense of their own weakness, the self-doubt went away and the chastening structures were overwhelmed. This is one of the reasons why Europe and the US are facing debt crises and political dysfunction at the same time. People used to believe that human depravity was self-evident and democratic self-government was fragile. Now they think depravity is nonexistent and they take self-government for granted. Neither the US nor the European model will work again until we rediscover and acknowledge our own natural weaknesses and learn to police rather than lionise our impulses.

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