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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
Wednesday, July 8
by Rich on July 8, 2009 12:35PM (PDT)
It seems that many of the attributes of authoritarian regimes, listed above, also define authoritarian cults and cultic and abusive guru movements. The reason is that in both cases there is a highly narcissistic but also fearful and shadow-projecting individual or individuals at the top, who through giving in to adverse entities, acts in a way to supress any creativity, originality, individuality, authentic spirituality or anything else that threatens the ideology, belief-system, personal worldview, or hypersensitive ego of the leader or leadership. more »
Tuesday, June 23
by Debashish on June 23, 2009 09:13PM (PDT)
At the core of much of the recent discussion and controversy in the Integral Yoga (IY) online community seems to lay the role of the mind and mental reasoning. Many statements from Sri Aurobindo and Mother could be quoted both praising the essential, enabling contributions of the mind, as well as criticizing the mind’s obstinate, obstructing features and liabilities. This dual nature of their commentary itself may point us in the right direction. It’s the particular use made of the mental faculty in a particular context that determines its helpful or harmful status.
Many quotes could be furnished where Sri Aurobindo and Mother state definitively that their teaching is a living spiritual path and not a set of fixed doctrines or dogmas to be religiously recited and referenced. But especially in documents that pertain to their own practice, in Sri Aurobindo’s case his Record of Yoga, in Mother’s case l'Agenda de Mère, and in other miscellaneous talks and letters by both of them, they exhibit a characteristic attitude and approach to mental formulation. This attitude is marked by a highly flexible and, one could even say, experimental approach to mental formulation of the vast spiritual experiences they passed through.
Considered in this light, the current Heehs controversy is perhaps best seen not as simply a flawed biography by a flawed ashramite who upset many devotees with his academic approach to evaluating Sri Aurobindo’s life. The controversy might also represent a stark and revealing light being cast upon the mental formations and constructions that have hardened among many associated with IY. All should be able to agree that the Mother’s approach is never a static one and she always seeks to propel us toward the future, breaking our comfortable habits of thinking and feeling as need be whenever our advance requires it. “her feet are rapid on the upward way.” 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 9
by Rich on June 9, 2009 10:00AM (PDT)
A link from a cyber-buddy Michel Bauwens whose P2P foundation is cutting edge with respect to clearing an open source horizon for progressive social agency in a increasingly interconnected society forced to navigate the communication nodes and commercial portals of corportist networks on the world wide web
It occurs to me that we should perhaps refine the terminology we are broadly labeling as Fundamentalism. Spiritual Authoritarianism further nuances meaning here and I believe better describes certain events and persons with respect to the IY Community and The Lives of Sri Aurobindo... 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 »
Saturday, May 30
by Debashish on May 30, 2009 03:38PM (PDT)
With the ascendency to Indian politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a plethora of literature has appeared paying serious attention to the phenomenon of "Neo-Hinduism" in India, and by and large relating it to fascist possibilities. This postcolonial literature, swelling the shelves over the last five years, has piggybacked onto a larger more international body of postmodern writing on nationalism and its dangers that has been growing in stridency ever since the pseudo-religion ... more »
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....
by Debashish on May 29, 2009 11:10AM (PDT)
Talal Asad is a Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York. In his self-description, "I am interested in the phenomenon of religion (and secularism) as an integral part of modernity, and especially in the religious revival in the Middle East. Connected with this is my interest in the links between religious and secular notions of pain and cruelty, and therefore with the modern discourse of Human Rights. My long-term research concerns the transformation of religious law (the shari'ah) in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt with special reference to arguments about what constitutes secular and progressive reform."
Asad looks at the phenomenon of modernity as a discourse in Foucauldian terms, marked by the rise of the secular public sphere and the disciplinary institution and apparatus of the nation-state. The inevitable subjugations and investments in ideological choices rooted in the history of the European Enlightenmnt that this implies have led, in his opinion, to our present fractured and violent postcolonial world, where contested uniformities assert their right over the ubiquitous disciplinary space of nation states. But Asad's analyses don't stop short at stating the obvious in a sophisticated language or taking sides either with apologists of religious militancy or secular normalcy. Asad's call is for a dialogic engagement, interrogating the biases, provincial limitations and arbitaray choices within post-Enlightenment modernity through the critiquing of its doxa and nomos by alternate cultural histories, while probing these pre-modern formations for pluralities of interpretation and internal resources of human emancipation.
He thus envisages a postsecular world, in which individuals and groups may co-exist not through the policing of the boundaries of a public sphere by the nation-state, but through the development of alternate social realities of human emancipation. Asad's views are germane to the present situation in India, with the rise of a majoritarian uniformalist Hindutva at the national level and the percolation of its ideological nomos into ashrams such as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The following interview with AsiaSource correspondent Nermeen Shaikh brings a number of his insights to the front. more »
Monday, May 18
by Debashish on May 18, 2009 09:43PM (PDT)
Savitra's proposal is formulated in response to the aggressive and illegitimate tactics (whether considered in terms of civil or spiritual society) employed against Peter Heehs in the case pertaining to his recent biography The Lives of Sri Aurobindo, but it is not limited to or exclusively directed at the individuals mentioned in this case. He intends the Principle of this Proposal would apply to all -- regardless of age, gender, culture or nationality -- who violate basic civil and spiritual rights and codes of conduct. more »
Saturday, May 16
Monday, May 11
Prana, Kratu, Jazz II: Ali Ahmad Hoosain, Hasan Haider, Ahmad Abbas and Subhen Chatterjee at UC Irvine, May 10, 2009 by Debashish Banerji
by Debashish on May 11, 2009 01:15AM (PDT)
Grizzled shehnai ustad Ali Ahmad Hoosain laid out the cross-cultural and cross-epochal sonic landscapes along with his two sons and his tabla accompanist Subhen Chatterjee at U of California, Irvine. Prana, Kratu and Jazz commingled once more. more »
Wednesday, May 6
by Debashish on May 6, 2009 02:03PM (PDT)
Two of those involved in allegations and support of censorship, Ranade and Pandey, are invitees to this year’s AUM conference. They have both responded to our letter with justifications of their actions. Ranade has reiterated in his letter a list of his charges against the author and his book. Ranade also continues to stand firmly behind the writ to ban the book.
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