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.
Wednesday, August 26
by Debashish on August 26, 2009 06:11PM (PDT)
The following is a revised transcript of a talk given by me at the Cultural Integration Fellowship, San Francisco in 2008 and carried in the current edition of Sraddha, a journal of the Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata.
In this, I bring into dialog the epistemic boundaries of the western academic discipline of Psychology and Sri Aurobindo's formulation of Integral Yoga, so as to reflect on the disciplinary formation of a field of Integral Psychology. What would such a field hold out and how would it impact the existing assumptions of both Psychology and Yoga? The insertion of such a discipline into the academy is not a trivial task. It is a project fraught with danger and possibility, which needs to be carefully negotiated. - db more »
Sunday, April 26
by Rich on April 26, 2009 10:42AM (PDT)
A friend of ours at sciy just had a stroke and is recovering. We wish him a speedy recovery. In honor of him, I am posting this incredible story of a recovering stroke patient and scientist that raises questions on the very nature of consciousness.. more »
Sunday, April 12
by Rich on April 12, 2009 09:00PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 years of Sri Aurobindo on evolution
Second of two articles on a new science whose principles are that of emergence rather than reduction. The idea of reinventing the sacred is an interesting one since emergence rekindles a wonder in a Mystery that is irreducible. Interesting also is the fact that even as Jaron Lanier, Staurt Kaufmann, and others concerned with the science of complexity steadfastly avoid mapping a specific metaphysical narrative on to their descriptions of reality, in the end they wind up with a view which shares much with Advaita or Buddhist constructions of the world.
Although the new science of emergence attempts to speak to human agency and the role of the observer, the phenomenological and social spheres of experience seem a bit lacking in its calculations for achieving what could be called an integral view, but the attempt is valuable nontheless rc...
Reductionism has led to very powerful science. One has only to think of Einstein’s gen- eral relativity and the current standard model in quantum physics, the twin pillars of twentieth century physics. Molecular biology is a product of reductionism, as is the Human Genome Project.
But Laplace’s particles in motion allow only happenings. There are no meanings, no values, no doings. The reductionist worldview led the existentialists in the mid- twentieth century to try to find value in an absurd, meaningless universe, in our hu- man choices. But to the reductionist, the existentialists’ arguments are as void as the spacetime in which their particles move. Our human choices, made by ourselves as human agents, are still, when the full science shall have been done, mere happenings, ultimately to be explained by physics.
In this book I will demonstrate the inadequacy of reductionism. Even major physicists now doubt its full legitimacy. I shall show that biology and its evolution cannot be re- duced to physics alone but stand in their own right. Life, and with it agency, came na- turally to exist in the universe. With agency came values, meaning, and doing, all of which are as real in the universe as particles in motion. “Real” here has a particular meaning: while life, agency, value, and doing presumably have physical explanations in any specific organism, the evolutionary emergence of these cannot be derived from or reduced to physics alone. Thus, life, agency, value, and doing are real in the universe. This stance is called emergence. Weinberg notwithstanding, there are explanatory ar- rows in the universe that do not point downward. A couple in love walking along the banks of the Seine are, in real fact, a couple in love walking along the banks of the Seine, not mere particles in motion. More, all this came to exist without our need to call upon a Creator God..... more »
Wednesday, March 11
by Debashish on March 11, 2009 07:03PM (PDT)
Some relections on the continuing issue of techno-capitalism and post-human futures by Debashish Banerji. This is a first fragment highlighting Moishe Postone's commentaries on the late writings of Marx. more »
Thursday, October 9
by Ron on October 9, 2008 08:57PM (PDT)
I've taken the liberty of typing in all of Chapter 4 of my copy of this important book, because it powerfully addresses one of the main themes of SCIY, the manifold relationships between science, culture, and consciousness. (ron)
"It is a paradox of the work of Artificial Intelligence that in order to grant consciousness to machines, the engineers first labor to subtract it from humans, as they work to foist upon philosophers a caricature of consciousness in the digital switches of weights and gates in neural nets. As the caricature goes into public circulation with the help of the media, it becomes an acceptable counterfeit currency, and the humanistic philosopher of mind soon finds himself replaced by the robotics scientist. ...
"Both the mechanists and the mystics say that we are now at a great bifurcation in human evolution. The mechanists like Ray Kurzweil, Danny Hillis, and Hans Moravec prophesy that we are at the end of the human era, and that 'nanobots' are about to be embedded in our bodies until our antique organs of flesh are entirely surrounded by a new silicon noosphere of networked computers. Like ancient mitochondria or chloroplasts surrounded by the gigantic eukaryotic cells, we are about to be engulfed in the next evolutionary stage. So the mechanists see noetic technologies surrounding human culture and consciousness and compressing it into an endosymbiont in a larger and swifter and more elegant evolutionary vehicle. ...
"Mystics flip this literalism over to see technology as a system of externalized metaphors that derive from pre-existing ontological modes at play and at large in the universe... For the mystic — be she Cabbalist or Sufi — an angel is a 'Celestial Intelligence' — a form of cosmic noetic organization that does not require a detour through animal evolution. So when Kurzweil claims that by 2030 implanted nanobots in the bloodstream will enable humans to turn off to the outside world to attune to a virtual reality, the mystic would recognize a literalist rendering of the process of meditation. Kurzweil's vision of the world in 2030 reminds me of Borges's 'Library of Babel'. 'I suspect that the human species — the unique species — is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, useless, incorruptible, secret'.  And here we need to be sensitive to the full force of Borges's use of the word 'Babel'. ... " more »
Tuesday, October 7
by Debashish on October 7, 2008 07:05PM (PDT)
The concluding section on Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies by Debashish Banerji continues its second installment's reflections on the Omniscience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence presented to us as the emerging destiny of post-Enlightenment Modernity and compares this destination with its appropriation and supercession in the Neo-Vedantic teleology of Sri Aurobindo. What are the differences, dangers and promises of these destinies and what are the conditions for achieving an alternate destination? ... more »
by Debashish on October 7, 2008 07:04PM (PDT)
This is a fragment constituting a continuation of Debashish Banerji's reflections on Techno-Capitalism as the epistemic regime of modernity and posible post-human futures at the eschatological cusp of history. Here the alignment of Marx and Hegel with the Enlightenment vision/teleology is contemplated and questions asked regarding a comparative alignment with the Neo-Vedantic teleology (if it can be called that) of Sri Aurobindo. more »
Saturday, May 3
by Rich on May 3, 2008 01:44PM (PDT)
(courtesy Google Images)
This paper seeks a long overdue critical exploration of Sri Aurobindo's evolutionary vision and how it might inform contemporary discourse on globalization and those regimes of techno-science whose productions propel its advance. That such a critical inquiry is overdue is regrettable because we live at a time in which we are undergoing what is perhaps our most rapid period of change in human history. We live in an era in which the dislocation of our physical, life and mental worlds seems to result from the pull of three strange attractors accelerating at different speeds.
Gazing out from the edge of digital culture in North America to do a critically inquiry into the future is problematic because our perspectives are already conjoined to the gaze of a culture entrained in exponential change. But what would constitute a future view? An epistemology of the Other? A discourse on the never quite? The future is that distant coordinate which is only know through its proximity to our present. So what does the present teach?
In America we are travelling so rapidly that from here we do not hear the voices of indentured knowledge workers standing in lines of up to mile, amidst the smoke and decay of south India, to compete with the multitudes of Heidegger's “standing reserve” for their conditions of economic bondages; of eight to twelve partitioned hours a day spent facilitating the global flow of virtual capital. Although the gaze from here may sense the desiring nature of the machine it lacks an epistemology for coping with its assemblages and a methodology for resisting its discipline..... more »
Thursday, May 1
by Ron on May 1, 2008 02:00AM (PDT)
Albert Hofmann was a synthetic chemist with Sandoz Laboratories, now Novartis, in Switzerland when in 1943 he stumbled on the hallucinatory effects of LSD. After it became seen by Harvard's Timothy Leary and others in the '60s as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment, and then as a major recreational drug, ... more »
Thursday, April 10
by Ron on April 10, 2008 03:29PM (PDT)
Imho, this is an important article about the pluses and minuses of religion, an interview with a former nun who has had many deep experiences of what she writes. Highly recommended. ~ ronjon
Karen Armstrong is a one-woman publishing industry, the author of nearly 20 books on religion. When her breakthrough book "A History of God" appeared in 1993, this British writer quickly became known as one of the world's leading historians of spiritual matters. Her work displays a wide-ranging knowledge of religious traditions -- from the monotheistic religions to Buddhism. What's most remarkable is how she carved out this career for herself after rejecting a life in the church.
At 17, Armstrong became a Catholic nun. She left the convent after seven years of torment. "I had failed to make a gift of myself to God," she wrote in her recent memoir, "The Spiral Staircase." While she despaired over never managing to feel the presence of God, Armstrong also bristled at the restrictive life imposed by the convent, which she described in her first book, "Through the Narrow Gate." When she left in 1969, she had never heard of the Beatles or the Vietnam War, and she'd lost her faith in God. ... 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 »
Sunday, March 23
by Rich on March 23, 2008 09:56PM (PDT)
One thing that can be said non-metaphorically about that the way Sri Aurobindo practiced yoga was that it was scientific. The perfection of his sadhana was a feat that required experimentation and one in which he sought demonstrable results. It should reasonably follow that his perspective on science would be one in which its truth claims were open to critical interrogation, just as were his experiments in yoga.
Given his penetrating intellectual insights into cultural change, his understanding of history as both progressive and cyclic, his multivocal criticisms of society, his integrative encounter with other voices and texts, his ability to effortlessly traverse the subjectivities of Europe and India and to transit freely between both ancient and modern zeitgeists, it seems reasonable to assume that he would size up science with a critical gaze....
Sri Aurobindo's project can be said to be a valiant attempt to find ways to integrate various levels of understanding and seemingly incommensurable experiences by respecting each ones particular articulation of truth while simultaneously harmonizing their unique claims to truth. But he also seems to have anticipated several recent scientific claims on the role punctuated equilibrium, symbiosis, complexity and emergence play in evolution as well as to have held perspectives that most social theorist share today. These social theories dismiss positivist arguments for reductive epistemology and highlight how biology can be used as an ideological tool. Additionally, early on at a time it was still popular, Sri Aurobindo discounted the more extreme implications of Spencer's Social Darwinism “survival of the fittest” strategy and clearly was repelled by the social engineering program of eugenics..... more »
Tuesday, January 15
"The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus & the World of Renaissance Magic and Science," a review by Erik Davis
by Ron on January 15, 2008 02:00AM (PST)
...[I recently read] "The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science," by the British science writer Philip Ball. As part of an ongoing but essentially lazy quest to wrap my psyche around alchemy, I had recently been drawn towards Paracelsus: the wonder-working itinerant sixteenth-century healer who is sometimes cast as the Copernicus of medicine. Rejecting the leech-loving, bass-ackwards, and literally by-the-book healing practices of most medieval doctors, Paracelsus instead made room for a medicine based on plants, material causality, and self-healing powers of the body.
Having already brushed up against Paracelsus' own rich but impenetrable prose, I was immensely relieved that Ball had appeared to lead me through the Renaissance thickets by the secondary hand. (I told you I was lazy.) Given the noodle-limp dollar, The Devil's Doctor was about the only thing I purchased in the UK. I read almost the whole thing on the plane ride home, in between marveling at the glittering, melting majesty of Iceland and Greenland as they unrolled below me and marveling at the complete absorption of all but one of my fellow travelers in the movies flickering across their cramped little screens. ... more »
Sunday, January 13
by Ron on January 13, 2008 10:43AM (PST)
...Daniel Pinchbeck, author of the alternative-culture best seller “2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl” — and a guest on “Coast to Coast AM” — has introduced a young and savvy audience to the school of millenarian thinking that has gathered around Mayan calendrics. To do so, he has employed viral marketing and a tireless schedule of public appearances at bookstores, art spaces, yoga studios and electronic-music festivals...
Over breakfast at Cafe Gitane in Manhattan, Pinchbeck told me recently that “there’s a growing realization that materialism and the rational, empirical worldview that comes with it has reached its expiration date.”... “Apocalypse literally means uncovering or revealing,” Pinchbeck went on, “and I think the process is already under way. We’re on the verge of transitioning to a dispensation of consciousness that’s more intuitive, mystical and shamanic.”
Far from its origins, divorced from its context and enlisted in a prophetic project that it may never have been designed to fulfill, the Mayan calendar is at the center of an escalating cultural phenomenon — with New Age roots — that unites numinous dreams of societal transformation with the darker tropes of biblical cataclysm. To some, 2012 will bring the end of time; to others, it carries the promise of a new beginning; to still others, 2012 provides an explanation for troubling new realities — environmental change, for example — that seem beyond the control of our technology and impervious to reason. Just in time for the final five-year countdown, the Mayan apocalypse has come of age. ... more »
Friday, January 11
by Ron on January 11, 2008 03:48PM (PST)
Thanks to RY Deshpande for recommending this article. ~ rj
As a theoretical physicist, Janna Levin probes whether the universe is finite or infinite. As a novelist, she explored the separate but parallel lives of two influential 20th-century scientists: Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing. Their work laid the foundations for computer intelligence while challenging fundamental notions about how we can know what is true. ... more »
Saturday, December 29
by Ron on December 29, 2007 02:35PM (PST)
Here's another excerpt from Michael Talbot's fascinating book The Holographic Universe. I continue to recommend this book.
...Other experiences included the accessing of racial and collective memories. Individuals of Slavic origin experienced what it was like to participate in the conquests of Genghis Khan's Mongolian hordes, to dance in trance with the Kalahari bushmen, to undergo the initiation rites of the Australian aborigines, and to die as sacrificial victims of the Aztecs. And again the descriptions frequently contained obscure historical facts and a degree of knowledge that was often completely at odds with the patient's education, race, and previous exposure to the subject. For instance, one uneducated patient gave a richly detailed account of the techniques involved in the Egyptian practice of embalming and mummification, including the form and meaning of various amulets and sepulchral boxes, a list of the materials used in the fixing of the mummy cloth, the size and shape of the mummy bandages, and other esoteric facets of Egyptian funeral services. Other individuals tuned into the cultures of the Far East and not only gave impressive descriptions of what it was like to have a Japanese, Chinese, or Tibetan psyche, but also related various Taoist or Buddhist teachings.
In fact, there did not seem to be any limit to what Grof's LSD subjects could tap into. They seemed capable of knowing what it was like to be every animal, and even plant, on the tree of evolution. They could experience what it was like to be a blood cell, an atom, a thermonuclear process inside the sun, the consciousness of the entire planet, and even the consciousness of the entire cosmos. More than that, they displayed the ability to transcend space and time, and occasionally they related uncannily accurate precognitive information. In an even stranger vein they sometimes encountered nonhuman intelligences during their cerebral travels, discarnate beings, spirit guides from "higher planes of consciousness," and other suprahuman entities...
Perhaps Grof's most remarkable discovery is that the same phenomena reported by individuals who have taken LSD can also be experienced without resorting to drugs of any kind...The Grofs call their technique holotropic therapy and use only rapid and controlled breathing, evocative music, and massage and body work, to induce altered states of consciousness. To date, thousands of individuals have attended their workshops and report experiences that are every bit as spectacular and emotionally profound as those described by subjects of Grof's previous work on LSD... 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