Monday, March 31, 2008

A collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages

[Japan’s Second Defeat after the Second World War by RY Deshpande on Sat 29 Mar 2008 09:06 PM PDT Permanent Link America, after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, invaded Japan in another way. It looks as though the evil found another soil to grow and flourish in a vigorous manner...Today no doubt Japan operates in a masterly way the American gears of financial prosperity; but her national Shakti has suffered a setback. She is inflicted with the culture of information technology supported by the mighty steelwork of industry and driven by the power of petrochemical machinery. She knows not for what purpose... But today the bullet trains speed cravingly for the nothing and the soul of Japan has no leisure and all material prosperity has brought impoverishment to its insolvent spirit. Japan has lost the protection that comes as a gift of nature to her from her Sakura, the cherry blossoms.
The present article forms a chapter of my yet unpublished book Big Science and its Impact on Society.] Science, Culture and Integral Yoga]
RY Deshpande perhaps has thought it fit to post this essay coinciding with the Earth Hour 2008, but the whole inspiration to paint such a dismal picture of Japan appears to be on the side of the diabolical. Don Boudreaux has dashed off a befitting reply to such anti-development mentality:

You and members of your organization worry that industrialization and economic growth are harming the earth's environment. I worry that the intensifying hysteria about the state of the environment - and that the resulting hostility to economic growth - might harm humankind's prospects for comfortable, healthy, enjoyable, and long lives. So I commend you on your "Earth Hour" effort. Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour will supply the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.

It will be nice, therefore, if RYD decides to drop this chapter infested with indiscriminate cherry picking from his unpublished book. [TNM] 10:27 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Privileging of the multiplicity is just another totalizing construct as hegemonistic as its opposite

[One can only be wholly disappointed that the opportunity has been missed by so called integral /theories/methods Re: At the ends of Man: Sri Aurobindo and Michel Foucault by Rich on Sat 29 Mar 2008 09:21 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link] 11:05 AM

Rich is suspicious of “totalizing ideological structures” and hence welcomes “other authentic traditions” as “Much can be gained from the(m).” But this privileging of the multiplicity is just another totalizing construct as hegemonistic as its opposite. [TNM]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Life Divine commenced on July 18, 1912.

Between 1902 and 1914, Sri Aurobindo wrote several commentaries on the Isha Upanishad which, though incomplete and unrevised, have been compiled under 10 different captions in the Volume 17 of the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. 3 of these pieces were explicitly titled as “The Life Divine” and Sri Aurobindo has left a noting in The Record of Yoga that “the Life Divine commenced” on July 18, 1912.

While this constitutes the Stage I, the publication of 54 essays in the Arya from August 1914 to January 1919 can be called the Stage II. The final Stage emerges 20 years later when during 1939-40 the book is published for the first time in 3 separate volumes incorporating extensive additions and alterations. The transition of The Life Divine to this final shape and the transformation that it undergoes in the hands of Sri Aurobindo is a fascinating story replete with far-reaching significances. [TNM]

Mauss vs. Mises

[Well, first he should read Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom, paying special attention to the chapter "Why the Worst Get on Top" - in a socialist system based on coercion, corruption and patronage. If this convinces him that socialism is evil, he should quit - to save his soul. Two or three generations of Indians have sent their best and brightest to the Indian civil services. If the State is to be at the 'commanding heights', obviously it will need the best and the brightest, it was thought - especially by the parents of these idealistic youngsters. They were all sacrificed at the altar of the State - a metaphysical concept that really has nothing to do with 'civil government' - which is what a 'civil service' is paid to provide...There is also Ludwig von Mises' Bureaucracy, republished in India by Liberty Institute. The crux of Mises' argument is this: Society benefits if almost everything is left for 'management by profit'. Very little can actually be accomplished by 'bureaucratic management' - like the police or the tax bureaus. Societies which keep this distinction in mind succeed, while those who extend bureaucratic management to vast reaches of economic activity lose heavily... Looking Up the Ladder... and Jumping Off from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik]

There is no example in history where successful societies have run in line with Friedrich Hayek’s or Ludwig von Mises' proposals. So, these suggestions are no more than mere conjectures where only the rosy side is highlighted by camouflaging the dismal. The State, as stated, is not a metaphysical concept but a functional structure constituted of human beings. Blaming the State or the Bureaucracy amounts to blaming a set of human beings, who simply behave naturally as the system demands of them.

Thus, retrieving the situation would entail resorting to normative prescriptions as foreseen by Adam Smith or Marcel Mauss than mechanically relying upon pure economic logics. [TNM] 5:55 PM 6:01 PM 7:43 AM

Sri Aurobindo is indeed a very interesting thinker

from Craig Calhoun to cc Jonathan VanAntwerpen date 29 Mar 2008 07:55 subject Re: A Secular Age, featuring Charles Taylor and Michael Warner

Dear Mr Mohapatra

Thanks for your message. You are right that the Immanent Frame is more focused on Western Christianity. This reflects partly how it started in relation to Charles Taylor's book. But I hope - and I am sure Jonathan VanAntwepen agrees - that it will grow with more contributions from other orientations.

And of course Sri Aurobindo is indeed a very interesting thinker to consider in that regard. I am copying Jonathan so he has your message.

With all best wishes,
Craig Calhoun [3:55 AM]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sri Aurobindo has a distinct style of writing, just like Spinoza has his own, or Jaspers, for that matter

[Re: The Intermediate Zone? by innerhike on Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:26 pm
Sarasvati, Greetings! I have only briefly looked at your original posting at the beginning of this thread and then I glanced very quickly through Aurobindo's words that you shared with us. First off, I deeply respect Aurobindo. But years ago in the brief interactions I have had with people who read/discuss Aurobindo, I realized that they have a lot to say about nothing at all. So this put me off Aurobindo a bit. Aurobindo was schooled in England many decades ago, perhaps even a century ago, and so his manner of writing/communicating reflects a very old-school, fomal approach. Regardless of my take on him, in India and abroad spiritual seekers hold him in very deep respect. I see him as one of the teachers who has been accorded the status of a "great one" by many seekers of great depth and integrity to where he is now deeply established in the pop culture of spirituality in India and abroad.]

Sri Aurobindo has a distinct style of writing, just like Spinoza has his own, or Jaspers, for that matter. Thus, it is absurd to question the writing-style of a thinker, and instead one should train himself to have access to the thought. Avoiding the New Age books, and reading the works of philosophers will help in this endeavor. Philosophy is for everyman. [TNM]

The Life Divine possesses a central position in this momentous adventure

[I cannot end this chapter without noting how the whole Ashram was vitally interested in India's fight for freedom, though we are supposed erroneously to be absorbed only in our own spiritual liberation. When the news of the final victory came, we celebrated it as much as the people outside, particularly because it coincided with Sri Aurobindo's birthday. He was requested to give a message on this great occasion. I am reproducing at the end of this chapter the whole message called "Five Dreams".
"It was on this occasion that for the first time the Mother hoisted her flag over the terrace of Sri Aurobindo's room. The Mother called it the spiritual flag of India.
In the afternoon she appeared on her terrace when the members of the Ashram greeted her by singing Bande Mataram after which she called out, 'Jai Hind!' with such a look and gesture that we still remember the moment. The evening programme included the electric illumination of the courtyard inside the Ashram compound."¹...

When one reads Sri Aurobindo's message one will not fail to note how much importance he has given to the role India alone can play in bringing about the unity of the whole of mankind. I do not know of any other great leader of India and worker for her future destiny who spoke in such glowing terms as we find in these "Dreams".
The Mother has emphasised the fact that this message should be distributed all over India, read and re-read by the people, for it contains the solution of all the problems the world is facing today. Page – 164 Location:
Home > E-Library > Works Of Disciples > Nirodbaran > Twelve Years With Sri Aurobindo > War And Politics]

India's role in bringing about the unity of the whole of mankind assumes pressing urgency at the moment. The Life Divine possesses a central position in this momentous adventure. Universities and academicians must recognize this imperative and take side accordingly. Sisir Kumar Maitra has put it so prophetically:

“The message of the book is exactly what the world needs today. It is the most thought-provoking and thought-shaking book that has appeared in this century. As it is studied more and more, more people will come under the influence of its vitalizing thought, and it will cause a slow and silent revolution in thought which will be extremely radical and far-reaching in its effects.” JSTOR: East and West in Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy

Considered the most difficult among the writings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine encounters enormous resistance. The political stance of many academicians poses huge hurdles in the path of its reception. Surmounting such obstacles is not a small challenge and necessitates a multi-pronged offensive. Savitri Erans must gird up their loins. [TNM]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Re-inventing the elephant

[Democracy's finest hour from Faith and Theology by Ben Myers
Here in my home state of Queensland, a mayor
has been elected by having his name drawn out of a hat. I think this is a major step forwards for democratic procedure, and I hope the Democrats in the US will have the good sense to adopt the same method (tossing a coin is also acceptable).]

People in India, in olden days, used to rely on the wisdom of an elephant to elect the future king by pouring water from a pitcher it carried, upon whomsoever it intuited suitable. Now, Queensland has attested that there is hardly any difference between the ballot box and a raffle. [TNM]

The India of the future will be a voluntary association of States

[Political Inquiry from Indistinct Union by cjsmith
In a recent
comment back and forth Matthew and I had, Matthew wrote:
The very impulse to have a federal-gov’t-level response to social issues such as education, health care, and more bespeaks his fundamental liberal/progressive disposition. Contrast this with the fundamental conservative/libertarian disposition, which would have those issues settled by civil society and the states…]

[What can India do to promote solutions to the intractable problems on its borders? Home > Edits & Columns > COLUMN Soften these borders C Raja Mohan
Posted online: Thursday, March 27, 2008 Peoples of South Asia’s frontier regions should interact with their cultural kin across boundaries

For one, it must stand firm in its principled opposition to the break-up of the existing states. It is the fear of disintegration that has driven the Chinese communists and Burmese generals to cracking down so hard ons the recent political protests.
Two, while ruling out the creation of new states, India must encourage its neighbours — Myanmar, China, Nepal and Pakistan — to move steadily towards granting genuine autonomy to ethnic minorities. India’s relative success in managing diversity and mitigating the many insurgencies it had to confront is rooted in its federalism. The Tibetan revolt has underlined the reality that no amount of economic growth can overcome the minorities’ quest for cultural autonomy and political dignity.
Three, India must also encourage its neighbours to think about softening the existing borders. The peoples of the Subcontinent’s frontier regions have suffered greatly from the rigid territorial conceptions of the nationalists. They badly need the freedom to interact with their ethnic and cultural kin across the national boundaries.
Together, these principles — legitimisation of existing borders, significant autonomy, soft borders and cross-border institutions — are at the core of India’s strategy to settle its own extended dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir.
The same principles should help guide our neighbours in addressing the political aspirations of the minorities in Myanmar, the Tibetans, the Uighurs of Xinjiang, the Pashtuns across the Durand Line, the Baloch, and the Madhesis in Nepal. The writer is a professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University,]

C Raja Mohan hastens to bite off more than he can chew by proposing a mélange of measures exposing his double standards. He prohibits creation of new states in India but wants her neighbours to grant autonomy to ethnic minorities.

Rather, time is ripe for the fruition of Hiranmay Kerlekar’s prediction, “Let Hundred States bloom.” The India of the future will be a voluntary association of such States encompassing territories that are lying far away from the present national borders. M&As amongst these States must happen organically upon common agreement. [TNM] The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders

[8.5 percent growth: 100 percent bullshit from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik... To a classical liberal, it is only when each individual economic agent, responsible for his own okonomos, is completely liberated under law, freed from all government imposed restraints, that each little okonomos will grow - and take the nation upwards along with it. So if unilateral free trade was instituted, the customs department abolished, if taxes were cut and the bureaucracy greatly downsized, and all economic restrictions removed, the 'national economy' would grow at such stupendous rates that no statistician would even be able to measure it...

John Cowptherwaite, the colonial civil servant sent to run Hong Kong in the 40s, achieved a huge economic turnaround for this little island without any statistical bureau advising him. He believed that such statistics were mischievous, and would be misused by socialists someday. So he deliberately axed all plans to set up a government statistical bureau in Hong Kong. When he arrived, Hong Kong was covered with the shanties and slums of poor migrants. When he left in the 70s, Hong Kong had been transformed into an island of gleaming towers, with a per capita ownership of Rolls-Royce cars higher than that of its colonial master, Great Britain.For more on this great civil servant, read my tribute to Sir John here.]

The logical extension perhaps is to free the 'national' borders so that any one can come in (to trade, and possibly, vote) and any one can go out. All currencies will be welcome, from the chaos of which would emerge a world currency and a world language, depending upon users’ preference! [TNM]

Keep in mind the alternate “history” that would have taken place during these five years

[Guernica and/or Iraq by Rich on Tue 25 Mar 2008 04:54 PM PDT Permanent Link
On the fifth anniversary week of the Iraq war what can one say? Hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, a nation in civil war, and no real end in sight. A war that even former head of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan concedes was fought over oil. One can only turn to images and here is Picasso whose depiction of the slaughter at Guernica Spain as a result of German bombing, is considered one of his most important paintings. I will post a link to U tube video by the same title which unfortunately subjects Guernica to the eternal return of the same. Here is a bit of History
The German bombers appeared in the skies over Guernica in the late afternoon of April 26, 1937 and immediately transformed the sleepy Spanish market town into an everlasting symbol of the atrocity of war. Unbeknownst to the residents of Guernica, they had been slated by their attackers to become guinea pigs in an experiment designed to determine just what it would take to bomb a city into oblivion.
Hitler's support of Franco consisted of the Condor Legion, an adjunct of the Luftwaffe. The Condor Legion provided the Luftwaffe the opportunity to develop and perfect tactics of aerial warfare that would fuel Germany's blitzkrieg through Europe during 1939 and 1940. As German air chief Hermann Goering testified at his trial after World War II: "The Spanish Civil War gave me an opportunity to put my young air force to the test, and a means for my men to gain experience." Some of these experimental tactics were tested on that bright Spring day with devastating results - the town of Guernica was entirely destroyed with a loss of life estimated at 1,650. The world was shocked and the tragedy immortalized by Pablo Picasso in his painting Guernica.]

Hitler is a sensitive name for the Savitri Erans, but the way Rich has attempted to liminally link it to the Iraq war in this intriguing post at SCIY warrants resistance. Living even in an Ashram, Sri Aurobindo was able to maintain his discreet preference for differing from any doctrine of blanket non-violence of the Gandhian kind. The detractors of President Bush must keep in mind the alternate “history” that would have taken place during these five years had he not intervened. A fair appraisal can emerge from that comparison. [TNM]

Sri Aurobindian ontology is unputdownable

[Jean-Luc Nancy has undertaken to do a kind of post-Heideggerian ontology over the past couple decades, though I’m not sure he’s really “taking off” among Americans; there may also be someone in the analytic camp pursuing something along these lines, though I’ve not heard of it.
The shame here, though, is that during the prewar period, there was a real flowering of ontologies of the exact kind that I advocate — perhaps the biggest names there are Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, and William James. In each case, there is a recognition that the mechanical determinism (largely unconsciously) assumed by scientists is not adequately accounting to experience, and so the attempt is made to develop a more inclusive and realistic ontology.
Then in the postwar period, the whole thing apparently just shuts down in America, in both the analytic and continental traditions — the latter of which also spread to many other disciplines in the humanities where ontological reflection may have found a place. Certain contemporary developments — the rediscovery of Deleuze as a “real philospher,” the surprising prominence of Badiou in certain American circles, the aforementioned work of Nancy, Zizek’s more recent work — point toward the potential for a renewed interest in a truly contemporary ontology. The shame, however, is that in so many ways we in America at least have to reinvent the wheel because the prewar developments wound up getting prematurely cut off in our context. --
Futher Thoughts on Ontology from An und für sich by Adam]

Adam is aware of The Life Divine, but has chosen to exclude Sri Aurobindo from his list of the biggest names in real ontology: Bergson, Whitehead, and William James. This is unfair, illogical, and against the best interests of academics. [TNM]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Savitri Era Religion can save from self-delusion

[As I never tire of saying, politics is not about public service, but about power; most politicians enter politics not to change the world but to rule over as big a part of it as they can; they will do whatever it takes to get power, for otherwise they wouldn’t have entered politics; and as we are a species hardwired by evolution for self-delusion, it is natural, after a point, for us to start believing in the lies we are living. -- A Machine For The Production Of Politics from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma]

As recent entrants, we may add (and confess) that politics is meant basically to publicize our religion, i.e., Savitri Era Religion. In this sense, it would rank as public service; for Religion is part of the genealogy of public reason itself which can save us from self-delusion. [TNM]

Competition, co-operation, and cartels

[Khattar's multibrand auto service venture to begin in 2009 Economic Times, India - 22 Mar 2008
NEW DELHI: Former Managing Director of the country's biggest carmaker Maruti
Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL), who plans to set up multibrand automobile service stations across the country, will kick start operations by next year... He said the idea behind his pet project was to provide ultimate servicing experience to consumers and convenience to those who own a set of 2-3 cars, all from different companies.]

When The Times of India and Hindustan Times launched their joint venture tabloid, Metro Now, it marked the end of a long battle of wits, and dawning of the realization that besides competition, co-operation also augurs well for commerce. Harnessing of ATMs for multiple banks, or Khattar's multibrand auto service are analogous trends the future of which is hard to anticipate, but undesirable cartels emerging out of such cohabitation is a big fear. Networking amongst MNCs affecting geo-politics is also a potential danger. [TNM]

It has been like running a three-legged race, these sixty years

[But the RJD, the DMK and the NCP are evidently so obsessed with their provincial spheres of interest that they do not seem to care, and perhaps not even fully understand, if India will suffer as a result. Arguably, they may not be overtly anti-national... But the limited vision of the regional parties seems to have made them unaware of the national and international implications of the deal, which enables India to join the nuclear haves in spite of having not only stayed out of the NPT, but even defied it by conducting nuclear tests... Yet, this achievement is apparently not something that the RJD or the DMK or the NCP can appreciate because they are unable to see beyond the borders of the states where they have some kind of a base. It is indeed for this reason that parties such as these cannot be trusted with major portfolios like external affairs or finance. It is easy to imagine the confusion which the DMK — or the AIADMK — will cause because of its empathy (or antipathy) for the LTTE if it had to deal with foreign issues. Similarly, imagine the chaos which the Left will let loose if it was put in charge of finance. Not surprisingly, the leaders of coalitions like the Congress and the BJP have preferred to keep these sensitive ministries in their own hands. The others have also quietly accepted this denial, which in effect, is a snub of sorts since it indicates that they are not mature enough to handle such adult matters. But it is the nuclear deal that has refocused attention on their immaturity, which, in turn, underlines their unsuitability to be in power at the national level. -- LEADER ARTICLE: Some Things Don't Change TOI 25 Mar 2008, AMULYA GANGULI]

The problem stems from the fact that instead of adopting a truly federal structure as in USA, we opted for an ambivalent system for such a large and diverse sub-continent like India, mirroring UK, a tiny island. Consequently, the Centre and the States have always been at loggerheads, and it has been like running a three-legged race, these sixty years. The model that we should ape at present, therefore, is that of the EU, in line with Sri Aurobindo's proposition of a free association of free nationalities. [TNM]

Monday, March 24, 2008

The 5th Pay Commission inaugurated the consumerist revolution in India

[Monkeys Deserve Peanuts from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
The recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission are making the news now... Of course, my arguments were correct. The 5th Pay Commission bankrupted the State and public services did not improve at all. This scenario will be repeated again.]

It is surprising that many economists have denounced the 5th Pay Commission awards (although, they seem to be comfortable with NREGS). Whether or not it improved the functioning of the bureaucracy, it managed to put substantial disposable income in the hands of a large number of people constituting the middle class, thus inaugurating the consumerist revolution in India. It would be unwise to overlook this piece of milestone in the recent economic history of India. The 6th Pay Commission recommendations, therefore, should be supported on the same grounds as Kaushik Basu [Stray notes in the Budget symphony HT March 01, 2008 1:26 PM ] regards the loan waiver for farmers as a kind of negative income tax. [TNM]

The Mother meddles

[How Dare She (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek ... That role was performed remarkably well and lovingly by the persons who had responsibility for it: my father and late mother. I, like any self-respecting adult, resent beyond words the impertinence of any stranger presuming to possess the moral authority to intrude into my affairs.
To my own dying day, I will live by the creed instilled in me by my parents: My life is my own, and just as I have no right (or wish) to meddle in the affairs of others, no one - regardless of how exalted her status or how large her electoral majority - has the right to meddle in mine.
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux]

[If economists abandon large swathes of territory on what are regarded as distant and unrewarding frontiers of our discipline, we ought not to be surprised if they become peopled by migrants from other disciplines, who bring not just their energies but also their insights, and a willingness to incorporate into their own frontiers what economists neglect and leave fallow. -- Economists Require Help in Understanding the Evolution of Value
from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy]

We, Savitri Erans, so lovingly allow The Mother to intrude into our affairs and meddle in it. [TNM]

As we are a continuous civilization, the “gatherer” mentality prevails

[What went wrong with the economy? from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen
On Wednesday David Leonhardt
posed the question, here is part of my answer: Starting in the 1920s, Ludwig von Mises, the leader of the so-called Austrian School of Economics, charged that socialism was unable to engage in rational economic calculation. Without market prices, he reasoned, no one knows how much economic resources are worth.
The subsequent poor performance of planned economies bore out his point...The irony is that the supercharged capital markets of the American economy are now — at least temporarily — in a somewhat comparable position. Starting in August, many asset markets lost their liquidity, as trading in many kinds of junk bonds, mortgage-backed securities and auction-rate securities has virtually vanished.
Market prices have been drained of their informational value and thus don’t much reflect the “wisdom of crowds,” as they would under normal circumstances. Investors are instead flocking to the safest of assets, like Treasury bills. The absence of trading is a big problem.]
Considering the size of the market in India the “wisdom of crowds” turns out to be the “wisdom of a coterie,” and consequently, the “market prices” are as skewed as in a socialist economy. Temperamental reasons forbid vast sections of the population from trading, and such socio-cultural factors apply substantial pressure on the commercial growth. As we are a continuous civilization, the “gatherer” mentality prevails instead of the “hunter's” attitude (to make a killing) obtaining in societies formed largely of migrant population. [TNM]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Savitri Era Party aims at The Life Divine

[Columns by Sauvik Chakraverti Antidote: A politics to end politics
Politics as a means to using government action should be resorted to in only exceptional cases. There should be a list of what the government must do, and also a list of what it must not do — with no discretion whatsoever for the politician. We in India need to embark upon ‘a politics to end politics’. ] 9:58 AM

[In a truly liberal order, it is unthinkable that every party must swear by the welfare state. But the situation in India is far worse, and there are good reasons to believe that the Chief Justice’s conception of a good society, if ever allowed to come into fruition, will spell disaster for the nation and its people...
If India is to regain her lost glory, socialism must be dumped and her people encouraged to help themselves. Indians are known to be hard working. The new definition of socialism offered by the CJI is patronising and impractical; and it will not lead to the ‘welfare’ of the poor. A liberal party opposed to socialism must be allowed to attract the mind of the smart Indian voter... by Sauvik Chakraverti: Antidote
Do we need socialism? Newindpress on Sunday ]10:21 AM

We at the Savitri Era Party are sympathetic to the ideas of Sauvik Chakraverti. But his notion of a liberal party is sorely denuded of any connection with religion. To rid our Constitution of not only the "socialist" but also the “secular" tag, should be the target. The Life Divine arms us with the necessary wherewithal to aim at such a polity. [TNM]

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Being sensitive to the fourfold Varna approach to the human nature

[I admire Sauvik immensely, and agree with his thoughts here…, for Sauvik is a much sharper thinker than I am…a fine mind, which can open so many doors for so many people…Writing About Classical Liberalism from The India Uncut Blog by Amit Varma]

Many of the solutions that Sauvik Chakraverti proposes from time to time seem so attractive. But like his plea that “The drug trade should be legalized” they will never be implemented, and, as such, their harmful consequences, if any, will never happen. Knowledge of this, it seems, permits him the luxury of prescribing new impossibilities, which, of course, earn him the reputation of a thinker.

Therefore, our first direct political intervention must be aimed at free trade” is his new “battle-cry,” but without being sensitive to the fourfold Varna approach to the human nature, it would be a disaster. [TNM]

Anti-Oedipus vs. The Life Divine

[Fadi Abou-Rihan Says: 3 March 2008 at 9:08 pm ... I do think there is something quasi “religious” to the flow of the text. Take, for instance, the bifurcations either production or representation, either flow or stagnation, either schizoanalysis or psychoanalysis. There’s been a fair bit written and said about the unsettling ways in which D & G deploy these polarities; but, try as we might, the line in the sand is presumably drawn and with it we are confronted with an exclusionary choice: either with Anti-Oedipus or against it. That’s the logic that most readers have followed and that’s the (religious) trap I have been trying to avoid.]

A large number of people coming under the spell of influential thinkers is not unusual, but it is enormously more rewarding to be mad about The Life Divine than being sold to a religious trap contrived by Deleuze and Guattari. [TNM]

Integrating religion with politics within a cogent framework of ontology

[at a distance to the state: radical democracy and religion
the church and postmodern culture: conversation by geoff holsclaw
( Download: at a distance to the state draft.doc
Abstract: Contemporary globalization puts both religion and the State on notice. Giving rise to a backlash of religious fundamentalism, cultural and economic globalization also puts the State into a reactionary stance. In light of this, questioning the political relationship between religion and the State must again offer an account of the State as well as religion. This paper will therefore investigate the relationship between the State, religion, and radical democracy. An interrogation of the State will proceed through a juxtaposition of the 17th century English philosopher
Thomas Hobbes and 21st century French philosopher Alain Badiou. The former understands politics as principally concerned with forming the State, while the latter understands politics as operating ‘at a distance to the State.’ Within these conceptions of the State, we will then examine the recent account by Romand Coles and Stanley Hauerwas of radical democracy and radical ecclesiology in Christianity, Democracy, and the Radical Ordinary: Conversations Between a Radical Democrat and a Christian. In relation to Hobbes and Badiou, we will examine the feasibility of the church as an alternative ‘polis’ in relation to the project of radical democracy. With Badiou, it will be argued that the best understanding of politics is not as ‘against the State’ in a religious or political sectarianism, but ‘at a distance to the State’ and yet participating within it, both reducing either the polemical rhetoric between the two or a reduction of one to the other.]

Instead of exhuming Hobbes, who lived in entirely different times, we need to turn to Sri Aurobindo, who has contemplated over the human condition and destiny through the tumultuous years of the two World Wars. The outcome of his long years of rumination is The Life Divine. In this book we find an optimistic agenda of integrating religion with politics within a cogent framework of ontology. [TNM]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Life Divine is the book supreme

[Beware, the ego is constantly at work Vithal C Nadkarni, ET, 19 Mar, 2008
WIth 500,000 copies sold over three years, Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth wasn’t scorching the best-seller charts the way his earlier Power of Now had. Then came Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement which created a publishing history of sorts: 3.5 million copies printed and shipped in just four weeks to feed the blistering demand for a book that exhorts readers to give up ‘ego-consciousness’ and live in the present. In his first new book in eight years, Tolle concedes that awakening to your life’s purpose may not be an easy endeavour at the best of times.]

But our newspapers never care to endorse a book like The Life Divine. [TNM]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An intensive study of what are the principles of human life

from "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 18 Mar 2008 15:14

You are at a precarious (st)age of your life now, where both impetuousness and maturity can play their part to the hilt, most often masquerading as the other. In a way, you are beginning your life as a man/woman now, and if you are not too pressed for a career, it would be better to devote 6 months or so in an intensive study of what are the principles of human life. The same can be done either by self-study concurrently with your present profession or by joining some short course like The University of Human Unity is an innovative alt... or A rich store of practical techniques to raise our ... etc. And then it will be easier for you to arrive at a rational decision as regards the future.

Sri Aurobindo's message for the 15th August 1947

[Was it that there still lived within my deep recesses a naïve, young man who had been brought up in the heady, early years of Independence? A man who lay buried under the debris of cynical and callous politics of later decades, but was somehow still alive. Born six years after Nehru’s Discovery of India was published in 1946, I read it some years later in college, as also his famous midnight speech about India’s tryst with destiny. Together, they had set my pulse racing. Here was a leader, who had discovered for himself and for all of us the soul of an eternal India. Here was a leader who gave us a vision of where we, an ancient people, were headed as a modern nation.
I cannot possibly count the number of times I went back to these two most magical pieces of writing. Last week, I picked up the book again. While the magic had faded a little, there was no denying the power of his words. The words were steeped in his immense faith in the land, in its people, and in their collective wisdom to build a better future for themselves.
Home > Op-Ed Letting India discover Rahul Bhupinder Brar Indian Express: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 The writer is professor of political science, Panjab University, Chandigarh Marketime 9:03 AM]
While reading a passionate piece like this by a person of approximately same age, a lot of consternation occupies the mind. Why it is that The Renaissance In India / The Foundations of Indian Culture by Sri Aurobindo has never appealed to him? Or, Sri Aurobindo's message for the 15th August 1947 that was broadcast a few hours before Nehru’s tryst with destiny speech, has never set his pulse racing? [TNM]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ansari, Chatterjee, Katzu

After Hamid Ansari, vice-president and chairman, referred the breach-of-privilege motion against those who had disrupted the proceedings, to the Privileges Committee in the Rajya Sabha, and Burn the rule book comment made by the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, the verdicts written by justice Markandey Katzu are making waves. They cover wide range of issues - social, political, as well as, economic - that need to be debated on larger platforms. Such pronouncements have helped instill fresh hope for the future of our democracy. [TNM]

Pillorying the politician

We had demanded of Don Boudreaux to explain his ontology on February 27 [7:06 PM]. It seems that during another bout of pillorying George Bush, he has laid his hands on one - though rudimentary, but suffused with profound significance - in the following post:

"A defining characteristic of this economy that produces such enormous abundance for us all (and yes, despite the current downturn, it continues to produce prodigiously) is that no one is "in control." Indeed, no one could possibly be "in control."... Remember, no one knows, no one has ever known, and no one can possibly know, all that is necessary to make even the ubiquitous commercial-grade pencil. It's astonishing how prevalent is the view that economies are "run" by people pulling levers -- or should be, or could be, run by people pulling levers. This misconception is the economics equivalent of the belief that the earth is flat, or that volcanoes won't erupt if they are fed a sufficient number of virgins." [Our Economy Is Not a Child's Erector Set (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek]

He is clearly against the idea of any hand - visible or invisible - behind the economy, but nonetheless, must indicate his version of the watchmaker - blind or intelligent?

His characterization of politicians as "children disguised as adults - persons who ought to be playing with wooden blocks" [Emotional and Ethical Dwarfs (by Don Boudreaux) from Cafe Hayek 7:55 PM] seems to be an attack below the belt.

Dr. JP Calls Upon the Brightest to Enter Politics by presenting a counterpoint:

“Politics is perhaps the noblest of all endeavors because it is about reconciling the limited resources with unlimited wants, and reconciling seemingly irreconcilable conflicts among various groups in society, particularly in a very diverse and complex society." [from Jayaprakash Narayan's Blog by JP 7:55 PM]

Politics is a difficult vocation as Pratap Bhanu Mehta put it eloquently a while back:

"The impurity of politicians allows us to feel pure, their crookedness affirms the uprightness of the rest of us, their actions allow all of us to behave as victims and their presence explains all our woes....This contempt for politicians is usually high on emotion and short on analysis, and has become a convenient way of displacing responsibility. Politicians are the totem of profanity by which we all affirm our own sacredness." [The Hindu Saturday, Dec 27, 2003 9:40 AM] [TNM]

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Next Ramallah!

In view of the agitations launched by Ram Setu Raksha Manch, one wonders why they have not yet staked their 50% claim over Ramallah! [TNM]

The most searching and subverting questions have been posed by Derrida

Tusar N Mohapatra said... 9:46 AM, March 12, 2008

May be the “painful” “knotted up verbiage” is also brimming with poetry. And that is perhaps the sap that lubricates the rest-less wheels of the creation and recreation. The most searching and subverting questions have been posed by Derrida. His inferences are equally spine-chilling. But there lies the beauty of the whole project. We have done with the interrogations, bottomed out. Let’s move on! Or, back to the Vedas, rather. [TNM]

None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell. (Savitri: Page 227)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When it comes to evolution, Sri Aurobindo is the last word

[Social Multiplicities and Agency from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
Increasingly I am coming to feel that Continental social and political theory– especially in its French inflection coming out of the Althusserian, Foucaultian, Lacanian, and structuralist schools –woefully simplifies the social and therefore is led to ask the wrong sorts of questions where questions of political change is concerned.
The problem here is that these theories are often so
abstract, in the Hegelian sense, that they end up with overly simplistic schema that then make any change seem like it is either an all or nothing proposition, or in the worst cases impossible and hopeless altogether. This point can be made clearly with reference to Althusser’s famous essay “Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatus”.
In reading Althusser’s essay, we get the impression that the individual, the social subject, is completely formed by the ideological state apparatus to such a degree that his thoughts, beliefs, bodily attitudes, and so on are simply iterations of that social structure...
Although their theoretical positions are very different, similar observations could be made about Foucault’s conceptions of power and subjectivization, Bourdieu’s conceptions of power and habitus, and even Lacan’s conception of the agency of the signifier (during his middle period, at any rate). It is clear that if we accept this thesis, issues of social and political change become extremely problematic and we immediately find ourselves in a nearly impossible situation...
At the heart of what I will call the “Althusserian model”, is the old Aristotlean conception of individuation based on the distinction between form and matter. While Althusser’s social structures are historical in the sense that they come to be and pass away and are thus unlike Aristotle’s forms which are eternal and unchanging...
Given that questions of change are today the central question of Continental social and political philosophy, I am stunned that most social and political thinkers have not paid more attention to evolutionary theory. Indeed, it is not unusual to find Lacanians disparagingly rejecting evolutionary theory...
No doubt this hostility, in part, is probably motivated by a superior and arrogant hostility (phobia?) many Continental philosophers have towards all things pertaining to the natural sciences...and perhaps the influence of Heidegger’s famous meditations on technology...
In his brilliant (and lengthy) Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Stephen J. Gould provides a sorting of the different levels at which natural selection takes place that I believe provides useful analogies for thinking the nature of the social.]
When it comes to evolution Sri Aurobindo is the last word. [TNM]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thank goodness for such populism

[Indian Express February 23, 1985 Letters: IRDP Loans
Sir: Kudos to Mr S. Aiyar for highlighting the inherent drawbacks of IRDP in his article, “How not to cure poverty.” But while observing that, IRDP has proved to be popular and everybody is happy, he seems to forget the banker’s woes. The banker is the most troubled and distressed person since the inception of the scheme for the following reasons.
§ He has to sanction and disburse the loans, bypassing all norms and checks and controls that were religiously followed hitherto.
§ He cannot reason why, with the proposed activity or the quantum of loan, nor does he have any say in the selection of the person or for that matter in any other vital decision in respect of the loan.
§ The loans are usually given on a mass scale, straining not only the workforce at his disposal but also the books of account.
§ After the disbursement a banker attracts problems in the form of periodical returns, statements and progress reports that he has to send to different agencies, apart from the task of calculating quarterly interests, overdues, recovery percentages etc. in respect of each account.
While brooding over precious funds going waste, he watches with agony, what is there to come next? - Tusar N. Mohapatra, Sambalpur, Orissa]

[Indian Express July 13, 1990 Letters: ‘Write-offs’
Sir: Such a hue and cry is being raised over the issue of waiving agricultural loans up to Rs. 10,000. But strangely enough the crores of rupees being written off by the nationalised banks, year after year, is never commented upon. The names of the industries benefiting from such ‘write-offs’ and “compromises” should be published in the public interest. - Nirmal Sarkar/Tusar N. Mohapatra, New Delhi]

[The Union Budget 2008 announced a loan waiver for poor farmers that is the largest debt forgiveness programme ever in India and among the largest waivers in the world... These are populist moves meant to woo an electorate. And my reaction to them is: thank goodness for such populism. The rich get subsidies in numerous hidden ways, in response to lobbying that goes on behind the scene all the time. It is good that the anticipation of elections is one time that the poor make some gains.
It is true that in principle there are better ways of reaching the poor, and the waiver of debts can raise anticipation of future waivers and distort behaviour. Nevertheless, being a kind of negative income tax, this is relatively non-distortionary, and in these times of growing inequality and farmer suicides, a desirable move.
Stray notes in the Budget symphony by Kaushik Basu HT March 01, 2008]

Economics, it seems, has turned 180 degrees between 1985 and 2008. [TNM]

Chicanery and exploitation are the key

[Trading in junk bonds hasn't been "right" since the fall. Many of the markets for short-term debt securities are becoming illiquid as well. Why markets are self-destructing in this way remains a puzzle; dump on markets all you want but why here and now?
Loyal MR readers will know that I am usually an economic optimist but at the moment I am worried... Is/was the subprime crisis simply a mask for a more general revaluation of the meaning and extent of liquidity? Are such revaluations always so bumpy and so lacking in locally stable iterative processes? As the Chinese would say, we live in interesting times.
What's going on with the economy? from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen]

[A Full Blown Recession & America In Denial Posted by Amar Shah on March 8, 2008 Democracy failing: America now run by 35,000 lobbyists!
Forget government “of the people, by the people, and for the people." Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is now a small group of 35,000 highly paid, greedy lobbyists demanding handouts. They run America from the shadows, for those at the top of the economic food chain and vastly outnumber Washington’s 537 elected officials.]

[CRISIL to classify market instruments on complexity Economic Times, India - 6 Mar 2008 MUMBAI: CRISIL plans to classify capital market instruments based on their complexity, to provide greater transparency for investors.]

If the subprime crisis stimulates a revaluation of recent history of the US economy, then the honest answers to its success will perhaps be chicanery and exploitation, and not simply efficiency or innovation. [TNM]

Pratap Bhanu Mehta has no confidence in the Congress brand of secularism

[Part of the reason is that the secular/communal divide is not, as the Congress would like to believe, a divide between two species of Indian citizens: one secular and one communal. It is a fissure that runs within most citizens, rather than between them...The risks of running with the Congress’s construal of what constitutes secular politics are even higher... Pratap Bhanu Mehta Indian Express: Monday, December 24, 2007 8:14 AM]

[God did not declare who are “scheduled” to be in the SC/ST list or determine the cut off for “socially, economically, culturally or educationally” backward. It is a creation of man. Shruthi Rajagopalan]

[...real, most authoritative scripture is in the heart in which the Eternal has His dwelling. It is in our inner spiritual experiences that we shall find the proof and source of the world's Scriptures, the law of knowledge, love and conduct, the basis and inspiration of Karmayoga.
Sri Aurobindo Ghose
(Source: Aurobindo’s Karmayogin: Political Writings And Speeches - 1909-1910: Chapter: The Ideal of Karmayogin) Posted by abhi on

Pratap Bhanu Mehta has recorded his no-confidence in the Congress brand of secularism. Savitri Era party, therefore, is the only alternative. [TNM]

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sri Aurobindo cures us of angst, alienation, and uncertainty

[Nov 26, 2007 7:13 AM Secularization: Updated with Linky Simondon Goodnessfrom Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects... If we take seriously the standpoint of immanence, we cannot treat such cultural shifts as the work of sovereign individuals (like Freud, Nietzsche, Marx, and Darwin) who came up with ideas of genius, but must instead ask what were the conditions under which such thinkers could be individuated in the first place, or rather what had changed socially and culturally for such possibilities to become thinkable?]

[Aims of Philosophy from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
The only constant is an abiding love of Lucretius, Spinoza, Whitehead, and Deleuze, coupled with an abiding distrust of those philosophical approaches which make the subject, language, or various cultural formations the lens through which everything else is filtered.]

[Postmodern Proto-Spirituality And The Current Global Turn To Religion
Roland Benedikter Well, if this “deconstructive” philosophy really produces such a crisis, it must be a healthy crisis. And indeed, it has been a very productive crisis, if we overview what late postmodern philosophy has, with all is weaknesses and failures, brought as deeply “purifying”, auto-critical impulse into traditional humanities and into the academic scene in the last three decades. And if the discovery of a “proto-spirituality” in late postmodern philosophy will now lead to a crisis in the paradigmatic academic understanding of “postmodernity” itself, be it welcome! ... For me, those young thinkers are the true followers of Nietzsche – because they are trying to go one step farther than postmodern Zeitgeist.]

[The will of the individual, even when completely free, could not act in an isolated independence, because the individual being and nature are included in the universal Being and Nature and dependent on the all-overruling Transcendence... Location: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-19 > The Ascent Towards Supermind]

[Any attempt to heighten inordinately the mental or exaggerate inordinately the vital man,—a Nietzschean supermanhood, for example,—can only colossalise the human creature, it cannot transform or divinise him. A different possibility opens if we can live within in the inner being and make it the direct ruler of life or station ourselves on the spiritual and intuitive planes of being and from there and by their power transmute our nature. The spiritual man is the sign of this new evolution, this new and higher endeavour of Nature... Document: Home > E-Library > Works Of Sri Aurobindo > English > The Life Divine Volume-19 > The Evolutionary Process— Ascent And Integration]

Sri Aurobindo solves all problems of philosophy and cures us of angst, alienation, and uncertainty. [TNM]

Thursday, March 06, 2008

An event of national importance

[Surat (Gujarat) - Installation of Relics and Centenary Celebrations of Sri Aurobindo's Visit to Surat
Savitaben, carrying the relics for installation
The enshrinement of the holy Relics of Sri Aurobindo and the centenary celebrations of Sri Aurobindo's visit to Surat took place at the Surat branch on 25 and 26 December 2007.
Centenary Celebrations of Sri Aurobindo's visit to Surat were organised on a large scale and on all India level, on 24, 25 and 26 of December 2007. About 200 active workers from 50 different Centres and Branches from of India and about 200 devotees from Surat participated in the event. In the town hall in the evening the audience numbered to about 600.]

The report of such an event of national importance has been published in the March' 08 Newsletter of Sri Aurobindo Society, after a delay of two months. No advance information was published for such a celebration; nor was the event covered by any newspaper. Such apathy towards communication is really amazing. [TNM]

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sri Aurobindo seeks synergy between religion and politics

[Oct 24, 2007 1:42 AM The buffered self and the battle of ideas
from The Immanent Frame by Charles Taylor
As I read Wendy Brown's recent post on A Secular Age, I see that I made a bad job of communicating my intent. I organized the book in sections, and the main thrust of my account comes in the first half. Crucial to my view is a Foucault-influenced notion of Reform as both feeding on and further potentiating certain disciplines, which become woven into our family, work, schooling and professional lives and hence continue to define us. What I call the "buffered self" is one facet of what results.]

[Sep 22, 2007 11:14 PM New Book by Charles Taylor Gets Positive Reception
from Vox Nova by Policraticus
Charles Taylor, Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University and winner of the 2007 Templeton Prize, has a new book out entitled A Secular Age. Michael Perry over at Mirror and Justice notes some of the positive reviews Taylor’s work is receiving. This looks like a wonderful and insightful read.]

[Oct 26, 2007 6:42 AM Secularism of a new kind
from The Immanent Frame by Robert Bellah
I have long admired Charles Taylor and have read most of what he has written and always found him helpful. Yet for me, A Secular Age is his breakthrough book—one of the most important books to be written in my lifetime. Taylor succeeds in no less than recasting the entire debate about secularism. From the very first pages it is clear that Taylor is doing something different from what others writing about secularization have achieved.]

[Oct 24, 2007 1:42 AM Introducing The Immanent Frame
from The Immanent Frame by Jonathan VanAntwerpen
On the shelves for only a handful of weeks, Charles Taylor's
A Secular Age is already receiving at least some of the attention it well deserves. The book has been reviewed in the pages of The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, and two short excerpts were recently published in Commonweal. Taylor's massive tome---it's just shy of 880 pages long---was even held aloft and glossed earlier this month by a young denizen of youtube.]

[Dec 1, 2007 1:26 AM The truth? from The Immanent Frame by Simon During
As many here have noted, A Secular Age is a remarkable achievement. And it marks the culmination of a life’s work. As far as I’m aware, Charles Taylor’s argument first took shape in an essay he wrote forty years ago as a member of the Catholic New Left for the volume From Culture to Revolution (1968). At the time he was committed to an anti-marxist “radical socialism” ]

[Nov 28, 2007 11:46 PM Deus absconditus and disenchantment
from The Immanent Frame by Akeel Bilgrami
Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is an inspired yet rigorously argued Wagnerian effort to analyze the distinctive anxieties of modern intellectual and social life, by one of the most important and interesting philosophers of the last five decades. I will pick up one strand that illustrates Taylor’s central themes of religion and secularity and the conceptual and historical continuities and discontinuities between them: the process of so-called ‘disenchantment’ that is supposed to mark our modernity.]

[Nov 28, 2007 11:46 PM After Durkheim from The Immanent Frame by Robert Bellah
I continue, as I reread it, to have the highest opinion of A Secular Age and to believe that it is among the handful of the most important books I have ever read, to the point where The Chronicle of Higher Education speaks of my
“effusive” praise. So it was with some surprise that I found there was a point where, if I didn’t entirely differ from Taylor, I had at least some serious questions to raise.]

[Going beyond from The Immanent Frame by Craig Calhoun
One of the main arguments of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Ageis that people, at least modern secular Westerners, have come routinely to think that the world as it is must be all there is. The contrast between immanence and transcendence is thus one of Taylor's main organizing themes. Immanence locates both our sense of reality and our sense of the good within the world around us; transcendence gives us a sense of something beyond. Taylor develops this in conjunction with a notion of “fullness” to try to evoke what it means to live in more constant engagement with that which is beyond the immediately given, the spiritual which might infuse nature, for example, or the Divine which might lift morality above a notion of ethics as mere fairness.]

[Don't Poop Under the Dinner Table, and Other Rules of Etiquette from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
I guess I'll be going back and forth between topics for a while, but I want to get back to Taylor's
A Secular Age and ponder a few things I read yesterday. Again, the central question his book addresses is how human beings "moved from a condition in 1500 in which it was hard not to believe in God, to our present situation just after 2000, where this has become quite easy for many." In ways that never existed before, even nominally religious people are quite content to pursue goals that are purely immanent and to enjoy activities that take no account of the transcendent...I was particularly struck by Taylor's discussion of the "civilizing process" that commenced in Europe in the 16th century.]

[Living in a Bersercular Age from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
The central question in Taylor's
A Secular Age is how human beings went from a situation just a few hundred years ago, in which naive religious belief was the "default" position and unbelief was unthinkable, to our current cultural situation in which people naively believe that unbelief is the default, or "natural" position, and that belief is somehow superimposed, so to speak, on that. To a certain extent, this simplification is true. For example, even for contemporary believers, their belief is an option or a choice, at least in the West. For our Islamic enemies, belief is clearly not a choice, since it's difficult to believe anything when your head has been removed from your body. But for the radical left as well, unbelief might as well not be a choice. It's just a naive, unreflective, and kneejerk stance, for example, in our fully secularized academia. Therefore, it seems that only in the freely religious society is the believer able to exercise his freedom to choose God. This is clearly one of the things that makes the United States (and a few other places) so unique and valuable. Just as love isn't love if it is compelled, only if you are free to reject faith is faith truly meaningful. For this reason alone we could say that the present age (at least in the modern West) is -- at least potentially -- more spiritually "evolved" than premodern societies where faith was taken for granted and not freely chosen. Really, the main purpose of my book was to make religion relevant to modern minds who might otherwise be caught up in the cultural template of naive unbelief, and therefore miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.]

[Framing the middle from The Immanent Frame by Jonathan Sheehan
From the opening pages, my historical antennae quickly began to quiver. Taylor’s book works in a space far removed from what I understand (speaking perhaps parochially) as proper historical argument. I say this with due caution: Taylor has always believed in the importance of a historical setting for his arguments. And from the outset of A Secular Age, he specifically addresses the issue of history. “Who needs all this detail, this history?” he asks, to insist that indeed “our past is sedimented in our present.”]

[Becoming Somebody on the Way to Being a Big Nobody
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob... I'm trying to find the time to make some headway with Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, which is almost 800 pages long and not an easy read. It's a very important book, and one that I will be spending a lot of time discussing in future posts, partly as a way of assimilating the material, but also to show how it relates to my book. But first I have to read it. Thus far I'm only up to page 96. I could never be an actual scholar like Taylor, but I'm certainly glad they exist. However, I feel that my task is to assimilate these "lower" truths (and I certainly don't mean that in any pejorative sense) into a more unified vision of the whole.]

[a secular age from Indistinct Union by cjsmith
title of Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor’s new book.
I’m only two chapters in and for my money it is one of the best books I have ever read. Within the category of (Western) philosophy it’s right up there with Being and Time, Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality, and
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.
The work begins very simply (but profoundly) by asking what is it to live in a secular world?
Taylor articulates three different definitions of secularity:
1) The reduction of religion from the public sphere and decisions made on non-doctrinal basis. (e.g. No Divine Right of Kings or State Church).
2) The secularization thesis: i.e. that religion is an early phase of human development that will be outgrown into rationality. Auguste de Comte, Karl Marx, and now Richard Dawkins.
3) [Taylor’s view] Secularity is about a world where one’s identity, view of the world, culture, etc. is chosen. Or at least open to multiple viable options. Counter to #1 would arguably be India.
Counter to #2 is the United States,where contrary to (some) left/secular fear-mongering and social con/right ignorance, the United States is not a Christian nation. It is a secular nation, but has not followed the path of Comte’s secularization thesis as opposed to Western Europe which generally has. [Canada being somewhere midway between W. Euro and USA].
What Taylor’s outlook does is allow one to trace the history (through narrative form as Taylor does) of secularity AND allow for multiple streams within the secular world. It gets not at what people think or believe, but how they think what they think, how they come practically and philosophically to what it is they believe.
It is an irenic text. While he does take Foucault seriously–even in certain ways out-Foucault-ing Foucault–the text, like Habermas, is overall a defense of modernity. But this time from a devout Catholic Christian. Not a naive, blushing, cheer-leading defense of modernity, but not a deconstructive pomo trashing of modernity either.
By undertaking an investigation into the feeling, the thought-world of secularity (both religious within secular and non-religious within secular), Taylor is light years ahead of the dumb faith-science debates. It’s a deeper phenomenology of the conditions for belief, secularity, and the like.
I’ll do periodic posts as I work my way through it (700 pages or so). Personal note: Taylor is deeply influenced by
Catholic Social Thought, as I am. He comes less from the Locke-J.S. Mill libertarian/utilitarian streak of individualist and more from the Catholic social thought strain of modernity.
But even those who are from the more Lockean-strain I think will find the book (I hope) illuminating.]

[Nov 26, 2007 7:13 AM Secularization: Updated with Linky Simondon Goodness
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects
Nick, over at
The Accursed Share, has an interesting review of Taylor’s recent book The Secular Age. Nick writes:
What Taylor proposes, however, is an alternative view – one that focuses neither on the secularization of public institutions nor on the secularization of private practices. Rather, he takes a Kantian approach and focuses on ‘the conditions of belief’ and how they have changed over history. While in the other approaches, there may still be remnants of the past that have not changed over time (e.g. swearing on a Bible before testimony, or the various religious traditions that have been retained in private), from the perspective of the conditions of belief, nothing is the same, even for the believer. The reason for this, simply put, is that even for the believer, his/her belief in the transcendent is no longer capable of being the “naïve” and certain view point it once was; instead, one’s belief is self-consciously only one viewpoint amongst many. (Of course, there were dissenters from the naïve certainty in transcendence in the past – Taylor mentions Epicureanism as a philosophy that denied the relevance of gods to human life – but it is only in our secular age that such an option has become not only widespread, but in many ways the default position.) Even among devout believers, there are times and spaces in life where they must eschew their belief and take on the perspective of the non-believer; or they must acknowledge that other perspectives are perfectly valid in themselves.
From my perspective, the really interesting point of this work, however, is that Taylor explicitly sets up the argument to examine and answer the question of “how did the alternatives become thinkable?” (25). In other words, how did the conditions of belief shift over time such that new possibilities that were previously impossible become thinkable? Moreover, Taylor notes that it is not a matter of simply removing some sort of religious blinder (as people like Dawkins would have us believe) which would then open our eyes to possibilities which were there all along. Rather, “secularity is the fruit of new inventions, newly constructed self-understandings and related practices” (22). It is the construction of these new practices and self-understandings and the construction of new conditions of belief that produce an assemblage in which new possibilities become thinkable and, indeed, naturalized. In this sense, secularization can even be seen as a revolution in thought, insofar as revolution involves making what was previously deemed impossible into the possible (and even the necessary). Finally, Taylor’s work holds interest to me insofar as he defines religion in terms of a belief in transcendence. The history of secularization, therefore, is the story of the emergence of immanence over time.]

[Nov 26, 2007 7:13 AM Secularization: Updated with Linky Simondon Goodness
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects... Although I’ve had mixed feelings about Taylor– though always enjoying his books –this sounds like exactly the right way of posing the question. If we take seriously the standpoint of immanence, we cannot treat such cultural shifts as the work of sovereign individuals (like Freud, Nietzsche, Marx, and Darwin) who came up with ideas of genius, but must instead ask what were the conditions under which such thinkers could be individuated in the first place, or rather what had changed socially and culturally for such possibilities to become thinkable? As Deleuze and Guattari argue in “The Postulates of Linguistics” (A Thousand Plateaus) and Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, all enunciations are collective enunciations. To speak, in other words, is to inflect and iterate the social field within which one speaks. Or as they dramatically put it, to speak is to repeat. Consequently, we cannot see such transformations coming from sovereign individuals, but must look at broader, systematic shifts taking place in the social field. We’re still learning how to engage in this sort of analysis, though Marx and others have taught us a lot as to just what such forms of analysis look like. Along these lines, early Marx, especially, places religion at the forefront of his analysis, arguing that it is failed politics, while paying great respect to it nonetheless. The infamous Jewish Question is especially important reading in this regard for those interested in how Marx was thinking about religious alienation, whatever else its other drawbacks might be.]

[Nov 2, 2007 5:37 PM Problems around the secular from The Immanent Frame by Charles Taylor
One great problem is that the term “secular” is a western term, and corresponds to a very old distinction within Christendom. Then it goes through a series of changes in order to surface in such neologisms as “secularization,” and “secularism.” But even so, some of the original meanings carry over. These terms are then applied unreflectingly to what are seen as analogous processes and ideas elsewhere, and the result can be great confusion.]

[Mar 3, 2008 Mangesh V Nadkarni who became a Savitri legend for us
Science, Culture and Integral Yoga™ by RY Deshpande
Let me now say just a word or two about India’s Spiritual Destiny: Its Inevitability and Potentiality by Mangesh Nadkarni... To quote Nadkarni: “Spirituality is indeed the master-key of the Indian mind. But it is a mistake to think spirituality is only about the supra-sensible... Spirituality must flourish on earth and touch every aspect of human life and transform it with its vast creative possibilities.” That is the Aurobindonian message and Nadkarni carried it wherever he lectured, within India or abroad. On one occasion he perorated: “If the traditional Church and Marxism haven’t delivered, a spirituality which is sufficiently secular may be the answer.” I’ll only add that there are no grades of secularism in true spirituality. The discovery of the truth of the individual and the truth of the cosmic working, of collective life, based on foundational principles of Existence and Awareness and Love and Happiness is the secret urge in us and it’s that which must be promoted.]

Sri Aurobindo seeks synergy between religion and politics. A recent release, Sri Aurobindo — A Contemporary Reader (Editor: Sachidananda Mohanty / pp. 235 / Rs 275 Routledge India: January 2008) needs to be read in companion with Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. [TNM] 5:55 PM