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Saturday, August 22
by Debashish on August 22, 2009 12:21AM (PDT)
Etienne Balibar (1942- ) is a French philosopher and political theorist who was among the principal students of Louis Althusser. In this thought dialog with Alain Badiou (a worthy counterpart of the interview on Universalism carried on sciy earlier), Balibar conducts a sophisticated investigation on universalism - its dichotomies, its establishment as truth and the responsibility implicit in its pursuit.
Why is universalism always ridden with contradiction? Can it be spoken of in a singular fashion or can it be reduced to the proper side of a single dichotomy? In tracing a speculative history of universality, Balibar moves through the variety of dichotomous displacements through history to bring to focus the intrinsically dialectical essence of universalism.
This leads him to the political question of the establishment of universalism. Balibar extends the philosophical discourse of dialectics to the perpetuallly revolutionary essence of the politics of universalism - that is, it is in ceaseless reviolution that the single-dual ideal of what Balibar calls "equaliberty" becomes the quasi-transcendental horizon of realization. One may say that social consciousness expands in this process in unpredictable dimensions.
Finally, on the question of the responsibility intrinsic to the pursuit of universalism, Balibar points out how the question of violence is also intrinsic to it. This question is not merely an external or extensive one, a fact of revolution as mentioned before, but an internal and intensive responsibility - that of the violence of internal exclusivism. This is the specter of the terror of totalism or absolutism which we are so familiar with today. Balibar points to the always present specter of this danger and something the responsibility of the pursuit of universalism needs to be constantly vigilant about. - db more »
Monday, July 20
by Debashish on July 20, 2009 09:00AM (PDT)
Sri Aurobindo envisaged the goal of human becoming as a transformed society and civilization based on the expressions of an integral consciousness. However, in keeping with the collective dimension of this goal, a transformed society was envisaged by him not merely as the end result of individual transformations, but as the dynamically transforming life-context or field which would allow and facilitate individual transformation. Seen from this standpoint, the social discipline of education, meant to “socialize,” “in-form” and inculcate the cultural, knowledge and epistemological skills of the social habitus for individual engagement takes on a changed meaning related to a new phenomenology, epistemology and teleology of human and social becoming. Integral Education then becomes a socially acknowledged and authorized praxis of the Integral Yoga or at least the pedagogical condition for its social possibility and collective transformation.
Though much has been written and several attempts at implementation made to formulate Integral Education as a form of child education, the higher educational possibilities and ramifications of Integral Education have remained largely untheorized. This paper is an attempt to think through some of these possibilties and implementations. Debashish Banerji is the educational coordinator of The University of Philosophical Research in Los Angeles. more »
Friday, July 17
by Debashish on July 17, 2009 10:35AM (PDT)
As globalization strips the veil from the last inviolable topos of earth and real-time surveiilance renders every square unit of the planet physically transaparent in its utilitarian Google Maps and Star War strategies, the sacred plexuses of the earth also multiply in their resistant cultural geographies of surreal uptopia.
Peter Bishop teaches Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Australia. Bishop's entertaining and erudite analyses of contemporary material culture pry open the spaces where spirituality, imagination, cultural history and material practices intersect. In this first chapter from his book, The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred landscape, he presents the makings of a theory of sacred cultural materiality - the spiritual, psychological, aesthetic, cultural, historical, political, economic and geographic transactions which establish the utopian spaces of contemporary spiritual desire. - DB more »
Friday, July 10
by Rich on July 10, 2009 09:54AM (PDT)
Conference Announcement: Fundamentalism and the Future
Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12, 2009
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
A two-day conference will be held Friday, September 11 and Saturday September 12 on the topic “Fundamentalism and the Future.” The conference will be at the California Institute of Integral studies in San Francisco, hosted by the Department of Asian and Comparative Religions. The conference organizers are Rich Carlson, Debashish Banerji and David Hutchinson. Registration is free. For details on the conference, location, and registration, please see http://fundamentalismandthefuture.com
Saturday, July 4
by Debashish on July 4, 2009 11:50AM (PDT)
Partha Chatterjee, founding member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective, is director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and visiting professor of anthropology at Columbia University. Chatterjee's interests are diverse and include Bengali theater. He has acted in Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's story The Namesake.
Chatterjee's work on anticolonial and postcolonial nationalism has left a definitive mark on contemporary scholarship. He has grappled with the problem of an Euro-American modernity politically institutionalized by the nation-state, in its implementations in terms of resistant cultural nationalisms among non-western and colonized peoples and their imagined communities.
The present inflection of his work moves towards postcolonial governmentality and the grassroots cultural politics of claiming identities within its categoric specifciations.
Chatterjee points out how the standard secular form of post-Enlightenment nationalism has been adapted in attempts to arrive at alternate forms within non-western cultures, yet how such adaptations have been marked by serious ambiguity, becoming co-opted by the forms they have sought to resist, rendered impotent or transformed into fascict ideologies. He calls for a continuous popular/communitarian creativity in understanding and dealing with such transformations, though his voice in this matter, judging by India's postcolonial history, tends towards pessimism.
For example, this is what he has to say about the moibilization of religion in its anti-colonial adaptations:
The innovations in nationalist thinking and nationalist mobilizations which have occurred in the postcolonial world have tended to get repressed by the emergence of fairly standardized forms of governance. Many of these innovations were actually repressed because they were not seen to be consistent with the known forms of the modern state. For instance, if you had movements or parties which were largely based on religion, this was seen to be somehow inconsistent with the idea of a modern constitutional state. Therefore, there was always this problem of what to do with such movements. Yet, those movements have been very influential and powerful in terms of mobilizing people against colonial rule.
So, once the objective of decolonization and transfer of power to a new nationalist elite had been met, the question was how to contain or manage these forces that had been released in the course of the national movement. That is where many of these tensions remained unresolved. If you look at the case of post-independence India, this whole debate about the "secular" state and what the secular state must do and what it means, in a sense, reflected this unresolved tension. In the historical process of the emergence of that state, a great deal of the mobilization had used religion, had depended on extremely powerful religious reform movements, of actually shaping what were seen to be religious beliefs and religious practices but changing them, reformulating them, in order to conform to what were seen to be the new challenges of the modern world.
So these religious reform movements were often completely part of the broader set of social changes that brought about nationalism, that brought about the new state, that brought about new political formations. They were integrally tied with many of those movements and yet the requirements of the secular state presumably forbade religion in public places or public life, or forbade political parties based on religion, because these were somehow inconsistent with a modern nation-state. Very often, there were all kinds of shortcuts or repressive ways of keeping those things under cover, as it were. Many of the tensions around secularism, for instance, and the kinds of challenges that emerged later on, in the case of India's Hindu right-wing in the 1980s for instance, were very much part of these unresolved questions from within the national movement. What the Hindu right then appealed to was not to say that nationalism was all wrong; they said, in fact, that they were the "true" nationalists. The reason why that could be said persuasively was because of a great deal of religious-based rhetoric and the presence, as I said, of these powerful religious reform movements, which were always part and parcel of nationalism.
So these remained unresolved problems. The overall frames remained derivative, almost imitations of forms of the state as developed in the West, but in actual practice what had to be done was to find completely innovative practices at the localized level. The real problem occurred when many of these local adaptations and innovations required a new translation into the larger frame. more »
Sunday, June 21
by Debashish on June 21, 2009 11:33AM (PDT)
"Unbeknownst even to some of its promoters, the creation of mental constructs . . . takes the place of attention to the advent of the Unpredictable. That is why the 'true' mystics are particularly suspicious and critical of what passes for 'presence'. They defend the inaccessibility they confront." - Michel de Certeau.
The writings of Michel de Certeau on mysticism are interdisciplinary, original and tantalizing. They draw on disciplines ranging from history, theology and spirituality to psychoanalysis, semiotics and cultural theory. While de Certeau concentrated on sixteenth and seventeenth-century French and Spanish spiritualities with their emphasis on 'spiritual experience', one of his most controversial views was that mysticism is not purely a matter of interiority but is a form of disruptive 'social practice'.
In a time of institutionalized comforts, of Integral Theory, Integral Religion and Integral Psychology, the caution of Michel de Certeau becomes more pressing than ever. De Certeau relates the rise of mysticism with social conditions which "possess" and displace experience within the language of orthodoxy. The science of 'mystics' he proposes is not so much a system of named experiences as a blueprint of praxis, a language of tactical retreat, a shifting map of recognized departures and social attitudes of refused identification. In this article, Philip Sheldrake, Vice-Principal and Academic Director of Saturn College, Salisbury and Honorary Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Lampeter, opens a window on de Certeau's studies and caveats on mysticism. more »
Tuesday, June 16
by Rich on June 16, 2009 08:10AM (PDT)
June 16th 1904 is that faithful day in the life of Dublin marking the epochal birfurcation of narrative, given in the epiphanies of Stephen Dedalus & Leopold & Molly Bloom. The last lines of the 644 page turning story of Ulysses - a book that at times one does not read but rather, wades through - are the subject of this video; also known as the soliloquy of Molly Bloom. more »
Sunday, June 7
by Debashish on June 7, 2009 04:46PM (PDT)
This is an annotated introduction to the first chapter of a recent book Knowledge and Human Liberation by Ananta Kumar Giri of the Madras Institute of Development Studies. The essay tries to engage Jurgen Habermas and Sri Aurobindo in a thought dialog. The potency of Jurgen Habermas (1929 - ) in a postmodern era has sustained itself due to the questions of human liberty, equality, ethics and understanding he has prioritized over those of knowledge, identity or experience. Habermas’ most powerful contribution to contemporary thought has been in the theorization of the “public sphere.” In elaborating its implications, Habermas focuses on what he calls “communicative reason.” Communicative rationality, according to him, is "oriented to achieving, sustaining and reviewing consensus - and indeed a consensus that rests on the intersubjective recognition of criticisable validity claims.” This discipline of intersubjective practice restores the lifeworld from its fragmentation under ideological or economic (commodified) alien consolidations. Thus Habermas’ communicative speech acts operate under an implicit faith in Human universality and its inevitable collective experience as social and individual knowledge, a continuation of the Enlightenment ideal.
A discplined intersubjective praxis of creative communication can very well be seen as a part of the social realization of an integral spiritual ideal in a plural field. Usually this has not been clearly described or prioritized by scholars and practitioners of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Non-Dualism, the emphasis having been directed towards the articulation of a universal (integral) Psychology, in terms taken from Sri Aurobindo’s own writing. But such denotative asocial descriptions have tended to subjugate phenomenological variety and social/cultural/personal experience. As a consequence, the danger of a totalitarian epistemology in the name (nomos) of Integral Theory has asserted itself with its own institutional disciplinary agents, who have increasingly tended to police out (violently if necessary, as the contemporary controversy related to the recent biography, The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, alarmingly and overwhelmingly demonstrates) all subjective interpretation of the way to this goal, and thus to the possibility of a plural realization of the Integral Yoga.
Against this background, the comparative and cross-cultural dialog between Habermas and Sri Aurobindo initiated by Ananta Giri is a salutary intervention. Using each to critique the limits and possibilities of the other, Giri shows how the rational assumptions of knowledge in the Enlightenment ideal lead to aporia which have been amply documented by postmodern thinkers, but which receive a higher validation through the transcendental ontology and praxis of Sri Aurobindo; just as the susceptibility to ontotheological abstraction and totalism of Sri Aurobindo’s phenomenology and praxis when reduced to an Integral Psychology, Integral Theory or Integral Religion can be safeguarded for a plural space through disciplines of intersubjective communication as developed by Habermas. more »
Friday, May 1
by Rich on May 1, 2009 09:57AM (PDT)
Fanaticism is often associated with religious practice and its mystical tendencies. In this article on G.K. Chesterton view of the fanatic, the reviewer notes that Chesterton rather associated fanaticism with a particular logic that is derived from mystical experience and not from mystical experience itself.
Today, we often hear it said that “fanaticism” is the consequence of religion, that science is its alternative. If I understand Chesterton's view of both the scientists and Islam, it is that “fanaticism” stems from both. But it comes not from the original mystical insight but rather from the “logic” that flows from it and subsumes all else in its wake. Scientism denies any place for revelation in its “logic.” Islam's “logic” ends up denying secondary causes or an understanding of the divinity in which diversity in the Godhead and Incarnation are impossible. The subduing of the world to Allah is a conclusion not of the mystical insight but of the logic that follows from it.
In the end, “fanaticism” is not a product of mysticism, but of logic. By looking for its causes in the wrong place, we often reveal our own “fanaticisms.” The “fanatical” concern about the religious cause of “fanaticism” has blinded us to the “fanaticisms” that stem from science itself and has caused us to misunderstand what it is within Islam that often makes it so “fanatical.”... more »
Friday, January 30
by Debashish on January 30, 2009 09:42AM (PST)
This is an edited excerpt from Chapter 22 of Robert Jay Lifton's book,"Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of 'Brainwashing' in China." Lifton, a psychiatrist and distinguished professor at the City University of New York, has studied the psychology of extremism for decades. He testified at the 1976 bank robbery trial of Patty Hearst about the theory of "coercive persuasion." First published in 1961, his book was reprinted in 1989 by the University of North Carolina Press. Lifton's analysis of "thought-reform" applied to cultic behavior is very instructive in our present space-time. more »
Saturday, January 10
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 09:56AM (PST)
The rampant rise of religious nationalism and sectarian violence all over the world may have an intimate relation with contemporary neo-liberal globalization. Mark Juergensmeyer, director of global and international studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents his sociology of 21st century national and transnational religious sectarianism in a post-Enlightenment global context. more »
by Debashish on January 10, 2009 09:26AM (PST)
Doris Lessing, 2007 Nobel awardee for Literature, gave a set of lectures in 1986, which were published under the name "Prisons We Choose to Live Inside." In this book, the author draws upon the lessons of history to show how easily the primitive instincts of human beings can and have been aroused and how manipulable we have shown ourselves to be under the pressure of rhetoric particularly by political, religious, ideological and commercial interests. But the lessons of the past seem to leave little trace on our subjective progress. Are we helplessly doomed to ever repeat the patterns of the unconscious group mind or can we emerge as a race to a level of freedom and choice? A good part of Sri Aurobindo's work also deals with these questions - and answers them from a much deeper place of realization. But what must we do to embody this? It is hoped that this short introduction by Diane Christine will whet our appetites to read the book and ponder its problems in our own lives. more »
Saturday, November 8
by Debashish on November 8, 2008 08:15PM (PST)
"What is popularly called Transcendentalism among us, is Idealism. As thinkers, mankind have ever divided into two sects, the Materialists and the Idealists; the first class beginning on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final, and say, the senses give us representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell." (Ralph Waldo Emerson in a lecture at the Masonic Temple in Boston in 1842.)
Philip F. Gura's history of American Transcendentalism was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction in 2008. In this work, Gura brings us into close contact with some of the deeper aspirations underlying American idealism. At once universalist, intuitional and critical, the contextual and social development of Transcendentalism in mid-19th c. America, drawing on mystic Christianity, Vedanta, German Romanticism, Enlightenment Philosophy and other sources, continues to flow like an invisible river under the surface of American capitalism, inspiring a vision of the future convergent with that held up by Sri Aurobindo. A luminous moment in American history, this movement and its founders are discussed in this work as struggling with its complexities with a prophetic intuition but without adequate internal or external resources. In today's America and today's world, the legacy of the Transcendentalists opens once more a chapter of hope and an invitation to further its projects with renewed understanding and care. more »
Thursday, October 30
by Debashish on October 30, 2008 09:17PM (PDT)
"Critique would essentially insure the desubjugation of the subject in the context of what we could call, in a word, the politics of truth." (Michel Foucault, What is Critique?)
In this article, Judith Butler, renowned feminist postmodern theorist from UC, Berkeley discusses Michel Foucault's late thoughts on critique. While it is usually thought that "truth" for Foucault is entirely socially constructed and
maintained by acts of knowledge-power, Butler's creative reading of Foucault
probes some of his aporias. Truth, for Foucault, is what makes itself knowable
to a people in an age, thus an episteme. Such a mode of knowledge becomes manifest as a mode of being. More focused on the structures and processes by which truth maintains itself ontologically through power and its exercise, Foucault nevertheless does not assign a human origin to the appearances and
disappearances of epistemes.
Sunday, June 1
by Ron on June 1, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
...The transition model emboldens communities to look peak oil and climate change squarely in the eye and unleash the collective genius of their own people to find the answers to this big question: for all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how are we going to:
* significantly rebuild resilience (in response to peak oil)
* drastically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change)?
Typically, self-determined solutions will involve some flavour of relocalisation. -- We're building a range of materials, training courses, events, tools & techniques, resources and a general support capability to help these communities. ... We're hoping that through this work, communities across the UK will unleash their own collective genius and embark on an imaginative and practical range of connected initiatives, leading to a way of life that is more resilient, more fulfilling and more equitable, and that has dramatically lower levels of carbon emissions. ... more »
Tuesday, April 29
by Ron on April 29, 2008 04:00PM (PDT)
...This has been a pretty remarkable month, actually, with all the problems of "The Long Emergency" accelerating impressively. Oil is now testing the $120 mark, the airline industry is imploding (largely over fuel costs), the housing scene has reached a degree of collapse unseen since the 1930s, food shortages have strayed out of the Third World and begun to affect Japan and the USA, bats are dying of a mysterious disease in the Northeast, and the Arctic sea ice is shrinking away to nothing.
We're in a strange collective psychic bubble. We'd like to forget about all these troubling rumors of hardship and bad weather and just get on with the daily task of making a living and paying for stuff and enjoying our customary entertainments. The comforting ceremonies of everyday life seem to continue. The freeways are still full of cars. Nancy Grace comes on TV dependably at 8 p.m. and is there deploring the latest pervert arrest. The baseball season has ramped up and the teams are criss-crossing the nation in their chartered airplanes. The stock market is actually going up -- what's wrong with that?
But there's an equally eerie vibe out there that things are seriously out-of-whack. We're on the edge of something. We're at the entrance of a dark passage where some of the ceremonies of daily life meet resistance. You go to the WalMart and five of your six credit cards are refused. Uh oh. It begins to dawn on you that you're spending a quarter of your take-home pay filling up the gas-tank every week. There's no dial tone when you pick up the telephone. How could all the supermarkets in town be out of rice? The local hospital just declared bankruptcy. The neighbors down the street auctioned off all their furniture in the driveway last week. Why does the cat pick up so many ticks these days? ... 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