Create a free Reader Account
to post comments.
Get free daily SCIY
Notable SCIY Topics
Category Folders (below)
Click folder names for contained articles,
Click 'Main Page' to return.
Friday, May 29
100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: The Illusion of Human Progress and the Ideal of Human Unity (part 5 of 6)
by Rich on May 29, 2009 12:43PM (PDT)
... In this context progress can be seen as a social ideology that corresponds to other hijacked evolutionary ideologies reflected in the German Idealism of “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”, and Herbert Spencer's “progressive evolution”. All the above ideas at one time or another have been utilized by those with couched power agendas for their use value in aligning different races and cultures along a scale of graduated being in which the European was seen to be the most highly evolved. A close reading of Sri Aurobindo however, will show that he had no such agenda. This fact should be understood properly before moving on to consider Sri Aurobindo's view of human progress.
Although in many ways Sri Aurobindo was certainly a visionary in his view of history he did not claim to be a prophet. The impossible burden of proof placed on prophecy is not lost on him. Even the future of poetry it seems can not be anticipated twenty five years years hence:
“ The gods of life and still more the gods of mind are so incalculably self-creative that even when we can distinguish the main lines of which the working runs or has so far run, we are still unable to foresee with any certainty what turn they will take or of what new thing they are the labor. It is therefore impossible to predict what the future poetry will actually be like. We can see where we stand today but we cannot see where we shall stand a quarter century hence” (Sri Aurobindo FP p.1972)
If this be the case with the life gods of poetry how much more is this so with the gods governing human history. Indeed how could one expect him to anticipate the developments in subsequent years when he wrote this optimistic assessment of the future in his 1909 essay Process and Evolution:
It is not likely that the immediate future of the democratic tendency will satisfy the utmost dreams of the lover of liberty who seeks an anarchist freedom, or of the lover of equality who tries to establish a socialistic dead level, or of the lover of fraternity who dreams of a world-embracing communism. But some harmonization of this great ideal is undoubtedly the immediate future of the human race. Once the old forces of despotism, inequality and unbridled competition, after they have been once more overthrown, a process of gradual samyama will be performed by which what has remained of them will be regarded as the disappearing vestiges of a dead reality and without any further violent coercion be transformed slowly and steadily out of existence.”
Of course what followed were the two great wars that almost destroyed civilizations and the partition of his beloved India. It seems like a harmonization in the immediate future was not to be in the cards dealt by history.....
For Sri Aurobindo the question of human progress is, as almost everything he wrote about, complex. While he believes in 1909 that human progress is the agent of change and writes: “ Whether we take the modern scientific or the ancient Hindu standpoint the progress of humanity is a fact.”(Aurobindo 1909) by the early 1940s his view seems to have notably altered and he writes:
“the idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature....
Sunday, April 19
by Rich on April 19, 2009 02:04PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution
The scientific tradition of the "West," of Europe and North America, has had its greatest success when it has dealt with what we have come to think of as the central questions of scientific inquiry: "What is this made of?" and "How does this work?" Over the centuries, we have developed more and more sophisticated ways of answering these questions. We can cut things open, slice them thin, stain them, and answer what they are made of. We have made great achievements in these relatively simple areas, but have had dramatic failures in attempts to deal with more complex systems. We see this especially when we ask questions about health. When we look at the changing patterns of health over the last century or so, we have both cause for celebration and for dismay. Human life expectancy has increased by perhaps thirty years since the beginning of the twentieth century and the incidence of some of the classical deadly diseases has declined and almost disappeared. Smallpox presumably has been eradicated; leprosy is very rare; and polio has nearly vanished from most regions of the world. Scientific technologies have advanced to the point where we can give very sophisticated diagnoses, distinguishing between kinds of germs that are very similar to each other.
But the growing gap between rich and poor make many technical advances irrelevant to most of the world's people. Public health authorities were caught by surprise by the emergence of new diseases and the reappearance of diseases believed to be eradicated. In the 1970s, it was common to hear that infectious disease as an area of research was dying. In principle, infection had been licked; the health problems of the future would be degenerative diseases, problems of aging and chronic diseases. We now know this was a monumental error. The public health establishment was caught short by the return of malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, dengue, and other classical diseases. But it was also surprised by the appearance of apparently new infectious diseases: the most threatening of which is AIDS, but also Legionnaire's disease, Ebola virus, toxic shock syndrome, multiple drug resistant tuberculosi, arid many others. Not only was infectious disease not on the way out, but old diseases have come back with increased virulence and totally new ones have emerged.
How did this happen; why was public health caught by surprise? Why did the health professions assume that infectious disease would disappear and whey were they so wrong? In fact, infectious disease had been declining dramatically in Europe and North America for the last 150 years... more »
Saturday, January 10
Competing Visions of History in Internal Islamic Discourse and Islamic-Western Dialogue - ABDULLAHI A. AN-NA'IM
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 09:52AM (PST)
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law. Originally from Sudan, An-Na'im is a disciple of nationalist leader and Islamic reformer and Sufi, Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, who was executed in 1985 by the regime of President Gaafar Nimeiry. Taha's pronouncement of his first political incarceration by the British is reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo's: "When I settled in prison I began to realize that I was brought there by my Lord and thence I started my Khalwah with Him."
An-Na'im's specialties include human rights in Islam and cross-cultural issues in human rights. He is the director of the Religion and Human Rights Program at Emory. He also participates in Emory's Center for the Study of Law and Religion. An-Naim was formerly the Executive Director of the African bureau of Human Rights Watch. He argues for a synergy and interdependence between human rights, religion, critical thought and secularism, instead of a dichotomy and incompatibility between them. more »
Friday, December 12
by koantum on December 12, 2008 01:01PM (PST)
Kazimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist, developed the Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) over his lifetime of clinical and academic work:
"Intense psychoneurotic processes are especially characteristic of accelerated development in its course towards the formation of personality....
The person finds a 'cure' for himself, not in the sense of a rehabilitation but rather in the sense of reaching a higher level than the one at which he was prior to disintegration...."
"Through the constant creation of himself, through the development of the inner psychic milieu and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus - an individual goes through ever higher levels of 'neuroses' and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality...." more »
Thursday, May 22
by Rich on May 22, 2008 12:48PM (PDT)
Nigerian child waits for food (AP photo)
This is not simply the erosion of national food self-sufficiency or food security but what Africanist Deborah Bryceson of Oxford calls "de-peasantization"--the phasing out of a mode of production to make the countryside a more congenial site for intensive capital accumulation. This transformation is a traumatic one for hundreds of millions of people, since peasant production is not simply an economic activity. It is an ancient way of life, a culture, which is one reason displaced or marginalized peasants in India have taken to committing suicide. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, farmer suicides rose from 233 in 1998 to 2,600 in 2002; in Maharashtra, suicides more than tripled, from 1,083 in 1995 to 3,926 in 2005. One estimate is that some 150,000 Indian farmers have taken their lives. Collapse of prices from trade liberalization and loss of control over seeds to biotech firms is part of a comprehensive problem, says global justice activist Vandana Shiva: "Under globalization, the farmer is losing her/his social, cultural, economic identity as a producer. A farmer is now a 'consumer' of costly seeds and costly chemicals sold by powerful global corporations through powerful landlords and money lenders locally...." more »
Friday, April 11
by Ron on April 11, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
...The Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) has already received expression of interest from 12 players, which include Supernova, Unitron Energy, Auroville and Vistar Electronics.
The capacity of these aero-generators is 2 Kwh to 10 Kwh and is in the ratio of 60:40, i.e., if the total capacity is 10 Kwh, 6 kwh will be generated by wind while 4 kwh by solar energy. -- These aero generators can be installed on rooftops and they work on solar energy during daytime and on wind at night. ... more »
Thursday, April 10
by Ron on April 10, 2008 12:42PM (PDT)
...the Global Information Technology Report... assesses 127 economies on scores of factors ranging from the cost of mobile phone calls and available Internet bandwidth to the quality of higher education. Not just a catalog of technical specifications, the report weighs these measures to determine which economies are best positioned to compete in the information-intensive 21st century economy.
The conclusion, as in previous studies, finds Nordic countries grabbing five of the top 10 slots, with Denmark and Sweden placing No.1 and No.2 for the second year running. Credit widespread Internet usage, supportive government policies, and good education. The U.S. came in at No.4, up three positions from last year. Although the U.S. gets top marks in innovation and education, it's pulled down by "red tape and rigidities" that stifle its business environment... more »
Wednesday, April 9
100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution: The dialectics of biology and culture; science, ecology & economics (part 6 of 6)
by Rich on April 9, 2008 01:36PM (PDT)
Perhaps it is best if the twain between science and religion do not meet. Trying to engage science and spirituality in a dialog has a long and troubled history. The incommensurable narratives of matter and spirit they both tell have proven time and time again troublesome for reaching any common understanding. In fact, if science and spirituality do share something in common it is that they all too often accuse the other of totalizing a universal narrative that usurps all ways of looking at the world that are inconsistent with their own.
Religion and science each have their own fundamentalist practitioners who would reduce the world solely to accounts told in their holy books or biology text books. One can not easily imagine an encounter between science and religion in which some violent reaction would not be triggered. Worse perhaps then the violent confrontation between science and religion is when either one appropriates the narratives of the other for the purpose of furthering their own ideological concerns. In the case of religion one example would be in their use of science to justify creationism, while in the case of science such appropriation usually results in one of the just-so stories of origins or cultural analogs of natural selection that Neo-Darwinism tells....
This holds true also for any dialog one would wish to begin between integral yoga and science. It would perhaps be best to begin such a dialog by first exploring Sri Aurobindo's dialectic between yoga and culture and then to look for resonances with narratives told by credible scientist regards the dialectics of science and culture. Better yet, in Sri Aurobindo's own work one finds him at times also critically exploring the dialectic between science and culture. It would therefore seem best to arrive at a dialogic platform to engage science and integral yoga using their diffusion in the semi-permeable membrane of culture, rather then by a direct confrontation as a means to begin the conversation. more »
Monday, January 7
by Ron on January 7, 2008 12:09PM (PST)
SAN FRANCISCO — A frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country’s commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization’s laptops in favor of Intel PCs. -- Intel and the group had a rocky relationship from the start in their short-lived effort to get inexpensive laptops into the hands of the world’s poorest children.
But the saleswoman’s tactic was the final straw for Nicholas Negroponte, the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer researcher and founder of the nonprofit effort.He demanded that Intel stop what he saw as efforts to undermine the group’s sales, which meant ceasing to sell the rival computer. Intel chose instead to withdraw its support from One Laptop this week.
The project has been a lightning rod for controversy largely because the world’s most powerful software and chip making companies — Microsoft and Intel — had long resisted the project, for fear, according to many industry executives, that it would compete in markets they hoped to develop. ... more »
by Ron on January 7, 2008 11:48AM (PST)
Here's an interesting article re the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Project. I disagree with the article's conclusion (it omits the vast online support to be provided to olpc students), but I think it deserves further discussion here on SCIY. What do you think?
At the Consumer Electronic Show this week, the One Laptop Per Child foundation was supposed to make two announcements—the number of computers it sold under the Give One, Get One holiday program and a new olpc machine made jointly with Intel. But now Intel has pulled out or been pushed out of the project with olpc, depending on who you believe. It’s a mess and a mess of huge dimensions that encompasses a conversation of profit vs. nonprofit, nationalism vs. colonialism, technology vs. pedagogy, rote vs. experiential learning, Western design vs. Eastern design, good intentions vs. bad intentions. It doesn’t get bigger, or nastier. ... more »
Tuesday, November 13
by Ron on November 13, 2007 12:05AM (PST)
I recommend viewing this short 30-second video about the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) "Give One Get One" project. See the previous article posted to SCIY for more details about this very worthy project. ~ ronjon
Sunday, November 11
by Ron on November 11, 2007 11:11PM (PST)
China will become the world’s biggest carbon polluter this year, overtaking the United States, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a bleak forecast of soaring global demand for fossil fuels. The rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies will raise global energy demand by 50 per cent by 2030, the agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook. India and China alone will account for almost half of the increase.
The agency pointed a finger at soaring coal demand, which threatens to upset carbon reduction targets, as it painted an alarming picture of a future of energy insecurity, soaring oil prices and a massive increase in carbon emissions. The dash towards prosperity in Asia will be fuelled by hydrocarbons - and mainly by increased burning of coal – with an inexorable rise in carbon emissions, hastening climate change.
Accelerating demand for oil, which will reach 116 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, up 32 per cent, will require huge investments to keep pace, the IEA said, and the sums are increasing. Inflation has taken its toll, and the agency reckons that $5.4 trillion (£2.6 trillion) must be spent to raise capacity, up a quarter from the estimate last year. It gives warning that plans to raise output from new projects may not compensate for the decline in existing fields.
“A supply-side crunch in the period to 2014, involving an abrupt escalation in oil prices, cannot be ruled out,” the IEA said in its report. ... more »
Sunday, October 21
by Ron on October 21, 2007 01:16AM (PDT)
Shri Arjun Singh, Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) has said that the Government of India is committed towards Education For All (EFA) and has been making strenuous efforts to increase domestic funding of its core programmes. Addressing the 34th session of the General Conference of UNESO, the Minister has said that the General Conference must set the tone for the discussions of the High Level Group on EFA in December 2007. He said, "We are targeting to increase Gross Enrollment Ratio for higher education from the present 10% to at least 15% in the next five years. We are also working towards increasing the public expenditure on education to the level of 6% of GDP over this period. We have in recent years taken several affirmative actions to extend the benefits of education to the underprivileged and deprived sections of the society..."
[He also said] "May I thank UNESCO and its Executive Board for the support it has given to India’s initiative to strengthen UNESCO’s association with Auroville in the context of the commemoration of its 40th Anniversary. UNESCO has been involved from the very inception with Auroville, including the founding ceremony in February 1968, when youth of 124 Member States participated in this ceremony by depositing soils from their countries in the foundation urn to symbolize the coming together of the nations of the World. ..." more »
Tuesday, October 16
by Ron on October 16, 2007 03:33PM (PDT)
Here's another provocative TED video. McDonough shares some of his most inspiring work, including the world's largest green roof (at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan), and the sustainable cities he's designing in China. -- This blip is 20 minutes.
Friday, October 12
by Ron on October 12, 2007 12:18PM (PDT)
Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to publicize and understand human-caused global warming. -- The Norwegian Nobel Committee this morning announced that the former U.S. vice president and the United Nations' climate panel will equally share the prestigious award for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."
Gore and the IPCC were chosen from a list of 181 candidates to split the prize, worth 10 million Swedish kronors (about 1.5 million U.S. dollars). -- The award committee, based in Oslo, Norway, said their decision was intended to bring into sharper focus the actions "necessary to protect the world's future climate and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.
"Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control," the committee added. ... more »
Sunday, September 30
by Ron on September 30, 2007 11:29AM (PDT)
Seventy-seven percent of Indians -- about 836 million people -- live on less than half a dollar a day in one of the world's hottest economies, a government report said.
The state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) said most of those living on below 20 rupees (50 US cents) per day were from the informal labor sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty.
"For most of them, conditions of work are utterly deplorable and livelihood options extremely few," said the report, entitled "Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganized Sector" ... more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler