Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vacuum packed ontology

[Google Reader (10): For Graham all objects are vacuum packed and withdraw from one another. Dark matter and energy are perfect examples of this thesis. We only encounter it, in my formulation, through the differences it produces in other things. Yet here we have the interesting epistemological question of why we should affirm its existence at all. It quite literally is a ghost. Perhaps the physicist readers of this blog can help me out here. Dark matter is certainly very strange stuff. Dark Matter and Energy
from Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects]

[In a letter appearing in Sunday’s Washington Times, protectionist William Hawkins accuses Adam Smith of being “dreadfully wrong” to insist that the ultimate goal of economic activity is consumption rather than production. Alas, the dreadfully wrong one is Hawkins. He confuses means with ends... Adam Smith correctly understood that the desire to consume is what justifies production, and not vice-versa. Protectionists are Profoundly Confused
from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux]

Enhanced consumption of ontology justifies production of more vacuum packed books and blogs. [TNM]

Monday, September 28, 2009


[Of all Harman’s ideas, the manner in which objects withdraw from one another is particularly interesting in this regard. Does one need to theorise the gap/space between objects - if such there is - in terms of a boundary (e.g. chora/chasm)? But, more significantly, for me at least, how does this relate to Harman’s other intriguing boundary concept: the “firewall”, the demarcation point between objects, as well the term for the internal boundaries between objects and their parts. If I am to write something about Harman’s OOO in the near future, it is the firewall that has me suitably “fired up”, that and the theorisation of the nature of the gaps between objects (again, if such there are). Chasm, Chora and Firewall: On the Boundaries Between Objects from Pagan Metaphysics by Paul Reid-Bowen] [aggregator]

More holes likely to surface once the honeymoon evaporates and hegemony subsides. [TNM]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Politics of caste, gender & religion

[The politics of immigrant identity negotiation is rather starkly framed in the title of a paper by Arvind Rajagopal: “Better Hindu Than Black?” By choosing actively to identify in terms of religion, rather than allowing themselves to be categorized simply in terms of the more limited logic of ascribed American racial identities, Hindus from India and Muslims from West Africa, for example, can improve their chances of achieving recognition as full members of the polity. Multi-religious denominationalism and American identity
from The Immanent Frame by Richard Amesbury. In the emerging dispensation, Taylor predicts, “it will be less and less common for people to be drawn into or kept within a faith by some strong political or group identity, or by the sense that they are sustaining a socially essential ethic.”]
[Gender, Migration, and the Public Sphere, 1850–2005
Edited by Marlou Schrover, Eileen Yeo
The decision to emigrate has historically held differing promises and costs for women and for men. Exploring theories of difference in labor market participation, network formation and the immigrant organising process, on belonging and diaspora, and a theory of ‘vulnerability,’ A Global History of Gender and Migration looks critically at two centuries of the migration experience from the perspectives of women and men separately and together. ISBN: 9780415801720 Published September 15 2009 by Routledge.]
[R. Jagannathan, in DNA, suggests that the reason may be caste. Centuries of caste-based protection has made Indians reluctant to change; afraid to abandon the old even after it has outlived its utility. Therefore, he says, we are afraid of the outcome of democracy.
“Caste is like the shell of the tortoise. When faced with predators, the tortoise withdraws into its shell. Caste was the protective shelter under which the Indic peoples withdrew when confronted with the radical new ideologies of Christianity and Islam. So successful has caste been as protector, that even the others have adopted it. Caste now permeates Indian Islam and Christianity, not to speak of Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. Put another way, caste is a force independent of Hinduism.”
Read the full article:
BJP’s succession blues. ‘Caste is what has made Indians fearful of change’
from churumuri by churumuri]

A definitive account of human emotions is hard to establish, and hence we have to make do with whatever appears as rigorous and scholarly. [TNM]

Monday, September 21, 2009

The hour of Sri Aurobindo

[Hindutva Undermines the Pristine Values of Hinduism
Mainstream - Sailendra Nath Ghosh - ‎Sep 12, 2009‎
Hindutva was very different from Sri Aurobindo's inclusive concept of Hindu nationalism which was not at all divisive. The RSS must admit that Hindutva's ...]

[Sri Aurobindo’s Opposition Why the Indian establishment resisted him --MANGESH V. NADKARNI The Indian Express Thursday, March 21, 2002 12:17 PM]

The Congress, the BJP and the Hindutva brigade, the Leftists and the Socialists, all have tried their best to keep Sri Aurobindo away from the dominant consciousness of the nation. No longer. [TNM]

The task is to recreate the spirit of 1907 in 2009

[Behind every successful Jinnah there is a Gandhi – 3
Radha Rajan 18 Sep 2009
Aurobindo had summed up succinctly the political objectives that Gokhale, Naoroji, Surendranath Bannerjea and the dominant Parsees in India and London had set for the INC – greater participation in government but within the Empire; that is, while the English educated Indians would become ministers in the Viceroy’s Council or the Governor’s Council, the nation would remain enslaved under British colonial rule... Astonishing how Aurobindo’s discerning analysis of and scathing attack against the leaders of the INC in 1907 was just as true in 1919. Little had changed in the INC’s objectives and even less had changed in the character of its leaders.]

[Even as Radhaji is throwing more and more light on facts and events of the freedom movement which have not been revealed so far, she is also revealing to Hindus the brilliant political writings of Sri Aurobindo. Mrs. Radha Rajan's excerpts from Sri Aurobindo's writings linking them with her expose of Gandhi and the Congress has been an eye-opener. It has also been a very sad experience. I don't know if this is what Radhaji is intending but she is slowly and with measured steps pointing her finger at the Hindu leadership then and now for failing to understand our adversaries. Radhaji is right but she must be making several enemies with her brilliant insight and perspective.
Raghuraman Srinivas 18 Sep 2009]

The task is to recreate the spirit of 1907 in 2009. No amount of harking to history can help us unless we come together under a political party to carry forward those ideals and dreams. There is no short cut. [TNM]

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A new world order as postulated by Sri Aurobindo

[ET Columnists, Writers, Debates Opinion - Economic Times: "Rise of authoritarian capitalism
A fusion of autocratic politics & state-guided capitalism has emerged as leading challenge to international spread of democratic values."]

[Why anarchists prefer herbal tea Another category of corporate crime is the sort in which corporate managements cheat their shareholders. Enron and Satyam are prime examples. Unethical gains made from access to privileged information within companies represent another sort of misbehaviour in which the company acts as the setting rather than the agent of crime.
Stock price manipulation, bribing government officials to corner a chunk of the government's budget or open up environmentally fragile areas, colluding with managers of financial institutions to finance cost-inflated projects, all these are actions that people associate with corporate crime....
Continue reading...]

A new world order as postulated by Sri Aurobindo is the answer. [TNM]

Politics and religion warrant reassessment

[A goal they cannot disrupt - Autonomy as the writers portray.... Arun Shourie Indian Express, Saturday, Sep 19, 2009
The second operational device springs up the moment we reflect on Gandhiji’s oft quoted responses to the heckling, “You say you are a man of religion, then why are you in politics?” In part, he says, because there is “no department of life which can be divorced from religion”; in part “because politics touchs the vital being of India almost at every point”; in part because “politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.” The first response concerns what politics needs. The second, what the country needs. It is the third that concerns us at the moment. Having to associate with all sorts of persons; having to see himself being punished, traduced, sent to jail, thwarted by persons who were infinitely tinier than him; having to confront the fact that very, very few were responding to his calls — for instance, his call to surrender official titles and honours; having several of the movements he launched peter out or go astray; having to see that instead of his lifelong ambition to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, the communities were killing each other off; having in the end to see the country being partitioned; having in the end to see that no one was prepared to tread the path which he so fervently counseled for India, namely to bring into being, and live an alternate to Western civilisation — what could provide a richer laboratory for discerning himself than the snake, for observing the working of his mind, for observing whether he had finally mastered his ego?
It is this fact — that in the ultimate analysis he had made all his activity a means for inner growth — that insulated him from the disappointing net results of his labours. As the quest was inner growth, “failure” was as useful, in many ways even more useful, than what others would see as “success”.
Once we attain that sort of detachment; once we execute that reversal of view; once the specific issue we take up is a device for something beyond the reach of others, then all we have to do is to just keep at it. The writer is a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha]
[Nancy on the excessive use of the term “political”: the death of politics?
from An und für sich by Thomas J Bridges
In his book
Philosophical Chronicles (a published set of radio addresses), Jean-Luc Nancy deals with a host of issues from daily life from the perspective of a philosopher, and some of them are deceptively simple, yet profound. His address from January, 2003, which addresses the word “politics” [politique], makes two very important points that have been haunting me for some three months now. First, Nancy points out the excessive use of the word politics, and its use in realms not normally considered “political.”
Politics and religion warrant reassessment. [TNM]

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shourie studiously avoids Sri Aurobindo

[Shourie attacks BJP, Advani again: "Shourie attacks BJP, Advani again
Agencies New Delhi, Sept 16: Just when there was a lull in the stormy internal matters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Arun Shourie has done it again. Shourie has attacked LK Advani in a newspaper column on the Kandahar issue. And the BJP for doubting Brajesh Mishra's version of the events. ...
Turning a deaf ear ... We must have no price... and everyone must know that we have no price.]
Shourie studiously avoids invoking the name of Sri Aurobindo in his three part sermon. [TNM]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nothing to put under the surface

[just wondering from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek
Why is the phrase “turtles all the way down” always taken as a game-ending slam dunk, even when the alternative adopted is “the final turtle at the bottom of the world”?
If you don’t want an infinite regress of entities, the choices are:
(a) a finite regress to some ultimate constituent of the cosmos
(b) no regress at all, with everything remaining on the surface of human access and nothing hiding beneath]

The taunt on Eastern ontology notwithstanding, the phrase "human access" needs to be defined adequately, given its range from microchip to LHC, from cyberspace to speed of light. [TNM]

Modi is sure to face a Mahabharata

[Modi: Last man standing Ashok Malik, The Asian Age, 16 September 2009
Sept.16 :
In a democracy, every election conveys a parable.... No quantum of deliberate neglect, no amount of philosophical discussion on whether the individual is more important or the organisation, no attempts to limit Mr Modi to the level of just another chief minister, one of three who has won by-elections this week, can take away from the hard reality that the Gujarat chief minister is the ordinary party sympathiser’s leader of choice.
In a BJP where everybody is tripping the next person, Narendra Modi is the Last Man Standing.
Ashok Malik can be contacted at]

Malik's prescience may be accurate, but that does not nullify his opening "parable" remark. Modi is sure to face a Mahabharata when he finally stakes claim for the PM's chair. And the outcome is beyond human prophecy and agency. [TNM]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rightsizing nations

[Let's put a cap on the size of banks from The Big Picture by T T Ram Mohan
Large, complex financial institutions are lethal to the financial system. They can fail and when they do, they wreak havoc on the economy.That's why they have to be rescued- as we have seen in the present crisis. We also saw what happens when they are not rescued, as in the case of Lehman Brothers when confidence in the system evaporated... I elaborate on this in my ET column,
Banks that can be run by idiots. I propose a ceiling a bank size- say, 5-10% of GDP. Small banks, manageable banks]

[ONTOGENETIC EFFECTS ON ECOLOGICAL PERFORMANCE: For feeding trials, lizards were carefully approached and an artificial fly resembling a mosquito was placed about 1 m from the lizard to elicit a feeding reaction, which consisted of the lizard chasing the prey item. The maximum speed used by each individual when capturing the prey item (lizards almost always ran after and bit the prey item) was used as the estimate of maximum speed for feeding. Finally, lizards were filmed when moving undisturbed through their habitats with a video camera, and the speeds and distances of all movements were recorded. Quantifying undisturbed locomotion provides an important "baseline" comparison to more typically "maximal" events, such as predator escape or feeding (Irschick, 2000b). Measuring Performance in Nature: Implications for Studies of Fitness Within Populations
Duncan J. Irschick, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118 Integrative and Comparative Biology © 2003 by The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology]

So, size matters, not only for corporations but also for nations. [TNM]

Lehman & languages

[Sudeshna Sen: Age of innocence Lehman Brothers collapse anniversary overshadows the big one - 9/11.]

[Hindi Diwas: Experts emphasis on use devnagari lipi‎ - New Delhi: Nation is celebrating Hindi Diwas today in the glory of national language. The day is celebrated every year on September 14.]

[Bar makes out a case against Queen's English, wants Hindi‎ - NEW DELHI: Hindi may be the national language, but the judiciary still swears by the Queen's English. Now, language is the bone of contention between ...Times of India - 7 related articles »]

The day may not be far off when globalization finds a solution to the languages problem. [TNM]

Competence, not cacophony

[On the one hand, I am not the sole creator of Larval Subjects. There are all the programmers, the people that maintain the internet, the telephone lines and satellites that allow for this form of communication, the people that comment, the design work that Mel did, and so on. On the other hand, Larval Subjects enjoys all sorts of adventures of which I am scarcely aware. There are all the differences it provokes in others, whether they be rage, admiration, perplexity, new projects, rejoinders, and so on. Only a small portion of that traffic ever responds. The blog gets linked to by other blogs without me knowing it. It gets, if my tracker is to be believed, forwarded in email. And so on. These are adventures of Larval Subjects, not Levi. Moreover, it is not at all an unusual event for me to be utterly baffled and surprised by something I wrote a while back. I am as much an interpreter of what I write as anyone else. And this because anything I write is an independent object. Such is the essence of what Lacan and Freud taught us about the essence of that strange object known as speech and writing.
Yet what is more interesting than the ontological status of my blog is the question of the ontological status of blog collectives. We can ask, at what point do objects shift from being networks of relations among objects, to objects in their own right? We talk, for example, of the “theory blogosphere”. Is that an object? A network? Both? There is a sort of entity here but it is closer to a cloud or a mist than a rock. How do we describe this difference ontologically? And what is the process by which something passes from being a collective to an object?
When are Objects
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects]

[Speculative Realism Wiki via Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects on 9/7/09 Speculative Realism has truly been the first philosophical movement that’s unfolded on the internet...
SR has been, perhaps, the first philosophical movement to take new media seriously, given the claims that certain variants of SR make on behalf of objects, it is important not to treat one set of objects as being more real than others. One of the most attractive features of the SR movement is the manner in which it has been a “grass roots” movement that has circumvented traditional power structures presided over by the academy. That could, of course, mean that it is a movement dominated by a bunch of cranks– certainly few of us are at marquis institutions –but I prefer to think of it more as a contemporary, digital version of the French Salons or the Greek Agora.
11:31 AM]

[Thursday, July 23, 2009 Interview with Levi R. Bryant Many of you will also know Levi from his excellent blog Larval Subjects.
However, it could be said that the more recent shifts in my thought have very much been a product of my experience with blogging. Blogging is genuinely a new form of writing, thinking, and intellectual engagement when done properly. This point and blogging’s difference can be illustrated in terms of evolutionary theory.
One of the primary ways in which speciation takes place is through geographical isolation. Two populations of a single species come to be reproductively isolated for some reason or other and as time passes their phenotypes diverge and the respective populations become homogenous. It is really no different in traditional academia. You talk to people who share the same interests as you, you attend conferences devoted to your particular issue or thinker, you publish in journals devoted to your privileged thinker, and you read texts on your privileged thinker or problem. These are all forms of geographical isolation that lead to “academic speciations”.
This sort of isolation isn’t operative in the world of blogging. While you certainly encounter specialists in your particular area, you also encounter thinkers from entirely different disciplines, practices, and orientations and you have to find a way to engage with them that doesn’t assume the daunting scholarly apparatus of your particular thought-framework. You encounter all sorts of characters like satirists and trolls, but also housewives, people in business, activists, artists, politicians and all the rest... Posted by Paul Ennis. Labels:
, , , , ]

[Larval Subjects July 28, 2009 Design Ontology Posted by larvalsubjects
My philosophical thought has changed fundamentally since I began blogging, as can be observed from the nature of my style when I wrote primarily on online discussion lists and in the early years of this blog. Part of this has been the evolution of my thought. Another part of this has been the nature of the medium itself. Discussion lists, for example, are organized around “master-thinkers”, so they tend towards scholarly discussion of the intricacies of that thinker or questions about where something might be found in the thinkers body of work.
Writing articles for journals tends to be a largely solitary exercise that involves careful engagement with scholarship and composition. Blogging, by contrast, involves a cacophony of voices, each with their own interests and backgrounds, hyperlinked cross-blog discussions, multiple forms of media, and so on. The medium in all these cases plays a formative role in the formation of content.
1:31 PM 11:42 AM]

It is competence, and not cacophony, that the blogosphere hoists like everywhere else. [TNM]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mythologization around Sri Aurobindo

[Realisation- Later mythology obscured Siddharta Gautama's human atainments by placing him in the realm of the Divine. According to Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha was born Awakened, and his quest for transcendent Awakening ("Enlightenment") (bodhi or sambodhi) was only a "skillful means" to guide and instruct others, however this may simply be a later mythologisation and apotheosis, just as some Sufis identified Mohammad with the cosmic logos (see some of the books of Henry Corbin for example). Interesting as this may be from a theological and transpersonal psychological (in terms of Jung's archetype of the Self) perspective, it does not throw more light on the subject of realisation; indeed it only obscures the subject. I have also noticed a similar porocess of mythologization around Sri Aurobindo, regarding opposition to a recent non-hagiographic biography.
Interestingly, Sri Aurobindo also spent three days in constant meditation (using a
Samkhyan-type technique taught to him by a yogi called Lele, about whom little is known), after which he had attained the state of Brahman, the realisation of the silent Self.
Sri Aurobindo (Integral avatar - Divinizer) Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) (Integral avatar - Divinizer) ... page by M.Alan Kazlev page last modified 18 August 2009 contact me]

[There is general agreement among students of religion that Aurobindo was a remarkable mystic, but few are willing to swallow the claim of some of his followers that he was an avatar, like Krishna, Chaitanya or Christ. by Peter Heehs, author of The Lives of Sri Aurobindo August 4th, 2008
Getting beyond the Conventions of Biography – and Hagiography Too: A Post by Peter Heehs]

[Sri Aurobindo is my Supreme Master, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is my living guru becasue he does the work that I feel is most important for Mother India and of which Sri Aurobindo was a pioneer In Conversation With Francois Gauthier Ranjani Saigal, lokvani, 08/19/2009]

[I realized that the enigma of Avatarhood and the mystery of the divine Grace were frankly beyond me. I had found no ‘intellectual' framework to judge the ‘mystical' or ‘spiritual' experience that Sri Aurobindo spoke of, no anchor to fathom these depths. I must approach such concepts, I thought, with care and caution when I attempt to explicate them in intellectual terms. Where I do not understand, I must remain silent, hoping to learn in future.
I do not think my critical approach to Sri Aurobindo is incompatible with reverence for the Master. In fact, the two go hand in hand. I believe the best of ‘intellectual' approaches are born out of a deep meditative state. I believe such an approach ought to be based on a basic modesty, and the realization that intellectual formulations are limited, by definition.
Auroville Today > Current issue > August 2009
The path of moderation: Sachidananda Mohanty]

[Once incarnated as human the Avatar, too, plays, sleeps and snores, suffers from flu and fever. These are facts that can titillate us or console us by showing the Avatar's proximity to us. But that does not serve the expected purpose; rather it creates a mist between the seeker or the aspirant on the one hand and the vision of the Avatar on the other, just as it has always happened on the lesser planes. For example, in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Cassius succeeds in confusing Brutus with his casually thrown-out suggestion that since Caesar once failed to swim across the river Tiber and cried like a baby girl when suffering from fever in his youth, he could not be fit to rule Rome ! Auroville Today > Current issue > August 2009
“We cannot help writing about His life” – Manoj Das
(Manoj Das was born in Orissa and joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1963, where he teaches English literature and the works of Sri Aurobindo... In 2001 the President conferred upon him the Padma Shri.)

All said and done, calibrating and certifying an Avatar remains problematic. [TNM]

A religio-spiritual Gandhi vs. a secularized Sri Aurobindo

[Even a cursory reading of HS in comparison with other four foundational texts (Jotirao Phule’s Gulamgiri, B R Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles’ The Communist Manifesto and V D Savarkar’s Hindutva) that have influenced contemporary socio-political engagements in India clearly brings out Gandhi’s distinctive stance vis-à-vis modernity... Gandhi’s approach to history, on the other hand, is civilisational, i e, normative and value-centric, a blend of cosmological time and historical time, which strongly resists the full-fledged secularising tendencies within historical interpretations...
This remained Gandhi’s indictment of modernity till his last.
Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj: Retrieving the Sacred in the Time of Modernity -Mahesh Gavaskar ( is the editor of Samaj Prabodhan Patrika, a Marathi quarterly published from Belgaum. EPW: VOL 44 No. 36 September 05 - September 11, 2009]

[In my book Sri Aurobindo: A Contemporary Reader, I have explored such a ‘secular' possibility. The conceptual frame work, the selection of the texts of Sri Aurobindo, my own introduction to the book as well as the prologues to the various sections, consciously eschewed references to the occult or the mystical while speaking of the contemporary relevance of Sri Aurobindo. Auroville Today > Current issue > August 2009
The path of moderation: Sachidananda Mohanty]

A religio-spiritual Gandhi vs. a secularized Sri Aurobindo. [TNM]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Savitri Era Religion solves Ambedkar's dilemma

[Scholars and thinkers on Ambedkar have always wanted to know why he took three decades to convert after announcing in 1936 that he would quit Hinduism. Was he using the conversion ‘threat’ as a political weapon to earn rights for Dalits? Was he ambivalent on the next religion he would embrace? Or was he fearful of something? What was in his mind? Time reproduces this rare conversation between Lewis Oliver Hartman and Dr Ambedkar: “'This much is settled,” he said to me, “we are through forever with Hinduism. We are going somewhere, but are not ready yet to say in what direction. ‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘You are not strong enough yet to announce a decision. If you compromise with the Hindus, all is lost; if you choose Mohammedanism, the Hindus will crush you; if you go Christian, both the Hindus and the Moslems will be on your back.’ ‘Exactly,’ replied Dr Ambedkar, ‘We are not ready — yet.’” Hartman described Ambedkar as the “Untouchable Lincoln”, and Time endorsed his view. Hartman made his prophecy in 1936 when no one could even contemplate that Dr Ambedkar would get to write the Indian Constitution. CHANDRABHAN PRASAD Untouchable Lincoln The Pioneer FORAY Sunday, September 6, 2009]

Savitri Era Religion solves Ambedkar's dilemma. [TNM]

Draupadi episode is the invention of later versions; Radha is the problem child of our national imagination

[India’s Independence and the Spiritual Destiny: Part U
Mirror of Tomorrow Mon 07 Sep 2009 03:30 AM IST Permanent Link Re: Indian-ness, etc
by Anonymous on Sat 12 Sep 2009 11:56 AM IST
Permanent Link
Alternatively stated, define or be defined - the new survival of the fittest. Is Aurangzeb more or less Indian than Sambhaji? Is Abdul Kalam more or less Indian than Lalu Prasad? The only two "great" emperors of India - Ashok and Akbar - how Indian are they? Ram or Ravan? Duryodhan the cheat or Yudhisthir the gambler? ... Is one who lives by the Dharma Indian or is this just a circular definition?]

[Arjuna, Akbar, Amartya - R Jagannathan 9 Sep 2009
The best part of Sen's jargon-filled book is where he explains his ideas through examples. This is where Ashoka, Akbar and Arjuna figure in large doses. Through Sen's lens, all three emerge as one-dimensional heroes, reasoning automatons, not real people.
Ashoka figures in almost all of Sen's recent books as a kind of champion of public reasoning and moderation. There are, however, problems with the blind lionisation of Ashoka. No thinking person should presume that the historical Ashoka was the same as the Ashoka of the rock edicts. All emperors have hagiographers and Ashoka surely had his... That Akbar was a moderate and tolerant ruler is fact. What is not is the tacit presumption that secularism or tolerance was not a part of the Indian ethos before him. Secular rule is the only way to keep diverse populations together, and many rulers before Akbar knew that... Now comes Arjuna. Amartya Sen, the peacenik, obviously prefers Arjuna's reasons for avoiding war at Kurukshetra to Krishna's call to duty. Sen casts Arjuna in the role of unwilling warrior when he had no qualms fighting other wars before Kurukshetra. By implication, Krishna is the agent provocateur. Dead wrong... Amartya's Ashoka, Arjuna and Akbar are great historical characters who contributed to India's cultural nationhood, but he reduced them to cardboard characters of dubious authenticity. He hasn't done them or Indians much justice.]

[Sunil Sethi: Ashoka, Akbar, and Amartya
Ashoka and Akbar are but two figures from India's past that Amartya Sen returns to again and again... The distortions and falsities of history perpetuated by the Hindutva brigade sadden the Nobel laureate.
business standard Hindutva blinds Tagore’s view of the Ramayana as “a marvellous parable”, insisting that we see it as an unquestionable historical document; it negates ancient atheistic and agnostic traditions and, in the grotesque rewriting of school textbooks recently, pushes back the Vedic age to the Indus Valley civilisation.
It is time for the learned professor to have some fun. It’s not known what language the inhabitants of the Indus civilisation spoke, he says, but it was certainly not, as champions of Hindutva claim, Sanskrit.]

[Reviews: Books The winner takes it all The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma
Gurcharan Das, Allen Lane, Pages: 434, Rs 699
Meghnad Desai : Saturday , Sep 12, 2009
The central question concerns dharma and its changing meanings as attributed by the characters in the epic and the way we would think of dharma today. In the Vedas, dharma applies only to Brahmins and concerns yajna. Later in the Gita, it is the cosmic order which Krishna must uphold. Then in 19th century, it is another name for religion and later for norms of ethical conduct.
The best chapter in my view is the one that concerns Draupadi. Das has read the Bhandarkar Institute’s Critical Edition carefully and tells us that Krishna’s rescue of Draupadi is not in the original (as the famous Lakshman Rekha episode is not in the Valmiki Ramayan either)... The gambling match and Yudhishthira’s behaviour defy belief unless he and his brothers were drugged as well. It is probably a later interpolation.
The Draupadi episode is in my view the central invention of these later versions. It is so heinous an insult, that even in a patriarchal society, it gives the Pandavas a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card to disregard all moral scruples and defeat the Kauravas. Dharma is suspended because of this one grievance. But that is my personal view.]

[Radha is the problem child of our national imagination. Her origin is shrouded in mystery. She is not mentioned in the Mahabharata, Harivamsa or Bhagwat, which was probably composed in the eighth century AD. Hindu Mythology - Krishna - free Suite101 course]

[Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Objectivity by Lorraine Datson & Peter Galison (Book Review by Norberto Serpente)
by sane yeshwant on Wed 09 Sep 2009 07:52 PM PDT
Profile Permanent Link Arjuna, even the great warrior or a ripe Kshatriya Spiritual aspirant, could not bear, or realize, or understand fully the “Vishwa Rupa Darshan” i.e. the actual reality of the universe offered by Krishna, for direct and deep perception, after specially arming his mortal senses of perception. I am aware, that this would be labeled disdainfully as a ‘story’. But, the fact is that the present day episteme or the technology and the testing laboratories and instruments equipped with a self assumed judicial status of pronouncing final judgment by mortal sense observations, aren't not at all equipped to decide the issue or dictate the conclusions. Their development or evolution is also on a unitary level of consciousness. They, also, now have a burden and an obligation to qualify for a higher spiritual level of consciousness. It is here that sadhana offers a way for solution. (Yeshwant Sane) e-mail: 10-9-2009]

[Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Objectivity by Lorraine Datson & Peter Galison (Book Review by Norberto Serpente)
Debashish on Wed 09 Sep 2009 09:44 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link As for the Viswarupa Darshan, I certainly do not take it ot be a "story" but a sign of experience by Grace for which adequate preparation and internal formations do not exist. Such experiences are also part of a subjective ontology, exposing the subjectivity to what is alien to it and this preparing it. Reply
Debashish on Thu 10 Sep 2009 06:30 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
I was trying to point to the conditions for a wider opening in the contemporary age. To hold on to the wisdom of the seers etc. can be of help to you and me, but is unlikely to have any effect on the world at large. Here, Sri Aurobindo and Dayanada are exotic names hardly attracting a second glance.]

[If the life of the Avatar is to have any meaning, it means the coming forth of the divine through an actual person, in all its messy complexity. The divine is emerging in each of us, not just the Avatar. If we worship the myth, we have Krishna in Brindavan, not Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. Auroville Today > Current issue > August 2009
Questioning is not skepticism: David Hutchinson]

[Mirror of Tomorrow Re: The Lives of Sri Aurobindo says Savitri is a fictional creation by Tusar N. Mohapatra on Thu 13 Aug 2009 12:20 PM IST Profile Permanent Link I don’t subscribe to mythological stories. As in The Secret of the Veda, I am interested in the “symbol” aspect and not in the fiction (katha) part... Again, the symbol is all. TNM Reply 11:53 AM]

Demarcations between mythology, legend, literature, history, gossip, news, and current affairs are so porous in our country that no one is in a position to assert anything for certain. Seamless magnitude indeed signifying eternity. [TNM]

For the Greeks, number is magnitude, the essence of all things perceptible to the senses

[A century earlier Goethe had, with firm conviction and care insisted on the insight and synthetic judgment required to detect the idea of observation. Both Goethe and Jaegar took considerable pains to uphold the highest standards of epistemic virtue, even if both these standards entailed entirely different. (Datson/Galison)"
The clash of these difference of epistemic virtues between the metaphysical associations of "truth to nature" and quantitative sensible reality of "mechanical objectivity" is no where as apparent as in the controversy involving Ernest Haeckel -who I argue in other places is the figure to whom Western Integral theory can be traced back
Science, Culture and Integral Yoga Re: Objectivity by Lorraine Datson & Peter Galison (Book Review by Norberto Serpente) by Tony Clifton on Sat 05 Sep 2009 03:07 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link 10:30 AM]

[Mediation and memory in the theory of money via The Memory Bank by keith on 9/10/09 According to Spengler, the West had exhausted the historical impulse given by its modern version of economic life (featuring money and machines) and a new phase, based on politics, national religion and war, was about to take over. This was not a bad prediction, but Spengler’s interest for us lies in how he conceived of the relationship between money and other universals.
Following Goethe, Spengler made a contrast between history (becoming) and nature (what has become). The counterpart of longing, of the desire to move forward that is becoming, is the dread of having become, of finality or death; and this pair together drive cultural creativity.
‘Life, perpetually fulfilling itself as an element of becoming, is what we call ‘the present’, and it possesses that mysterious property of ‘direction’, which men have tried to rationalize by means of the enigmatic word ‘time’.’
On the one hand, there is measurement of time as duration; but the idea of history as becoming, as irreversible direction, is particular to the West. Number belongs to nature as the chief sign of completed demarcation, of all things that have become themselves.
‘Mathematical number contains in its very essence the notion of a mechanical demarcation, number being in that respect akin to word, which…fences off world-impressions.’
Spengler identifies a break between classical antiquity and the modern West. For the Greeks, number is magnitude, the essence of all things perceptible to the senses. Mathematics for them was thus concerned with measurement in the here and now, visible and tangible. ‘Numbers are symbols of the mortal’. All this changed with Descartes whose new number-idea was function – a world of relations between points in abstract space. Whereas the Greeks sought perfection within the concrete limits of nature and society as they experienced them, now a passionate Faustian tendency towards the infinite took hold, married to abstract mathematical forms that increasingly freed themselves from concrete reality in order better to control that reality. The new mathematics was thus immaterial, resting on abstract analysis, dissociated from magnitude and transferred to a transcendental relational world, a process culminating in ‘victory over the popular and sensuous number-feeling in us all’.
2:21 PM 2:48 PM]

Although it is difficult to agree fully that transitions in society follow shifts in theory, the latter, no doubt, are helpful pointers but no determinants. [TNM]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Work far outweighs the words

[(3) In his booklet Sri Aurobindo and Hinduism, Heehs had to make the Hindu disciples of Sri Aurobindo think that their Master was against Hinduism, even though he encouraged them to regard the Mother as the incarnation of the Divine Mother and do pranam to her... Krishna, for example, will always signify the overmental power, whatever name you may call him. Yes, denounce the Hindu rituals that have lost all relevance, but why deny the eternal values of the ancient Hindu scriptures on which Sri Aurobindo himself drew the basis of his Integral Yoga?
A critique of the book "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs
committed to objective, academic, respectful and honest discussions
Sep 1, 2009
The Hardinge Controversy - by Raman Reddy]

The Mother and Sri Aurobindo can't be measured merely by the words they have left behind. One hundred and one years of their life and work far outweighs the texts which remain chained to the context, and hence, hermeneutically susceptible. Grafting of their phrases by crafty editors or thematic compilation of their writings has its own hazards. [TNM]

The Valley of the False Glimmer

[on Ivakhiv’s posts Adrian Ivakhiv has posted reviews of Tool-Being and Prince of Networks.
Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek
Ivakhiv’s point about the river needing the valley to be what it is cuts no ice with me, beautiful though the image may be. The true statement here would be that the “river valley” couldn’t be what it is without the river and the valley. The valley can bring out new flavors in a river just as a friendship, marriage, or job can bring out new flavors in individual people. But that doesn’t mean that people and things only are what they are by virtue of the specific relations in which they are now involved. I’m never even sure why this idea sounds liberating to anyone. Only because something in me is not fully expressed by anything that happens can anything new ever happen to me.]
[(title unknown)
via enowning by enowning on 9/3/09 Simon Critchely explains Meillassoux.
For the English-speaking reader, the force of Meillassoux's polemic against correlationism requires some explanation... But what exactly is the problem with correlationism? Well, it is twofold. First, by denying thought any rational access to primary qualities or things in themselves, correlationism allows that space to be filled by any number of irrational discourses, such as religion. In a powerful critique of the theological turn in French phenomenology, for example in the work of Jean-Luc Marion, Meillassoux shows how the flip side of correlationism is fideism, that is, the rather vague discourse on the numinous that one finds in many followers of Heidegger, but also - it should be added - in Wittgenstein's curious remarks about the mystical towards the end of the Tractatus. Such is what Meillassoux calls "the religionizing of reason".]

[Today I just read something apropos of our discussion. Slavoj Zizek writes in The Parallax View: ‘“anti-philosophy” – it is not surprising that Kierkegaard laid out its most concise formula: “The fact of the matter is that we must acknowledge that in the last resort there is no theory.” In all great “anti-philosophers,” from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to the late work of Wittgenstein, the most radical authentic core of being human is perceived as a concrete practico-ethical engagement and/or choice which precedes (and grounds) every “theory,” every theoretical account of itself, and is, in this radical sense of the term, contingent (“irrational”) – it was Kant who laid the foundation for “anti-philosophy” when he asserted the primacy of practical over theoretical reason; Fichte simply spelled out its consequences when he wrote, apropos of the ultimate choice between Spinozism and the philosophy of subjective freedom: “What philosophy one chooses depends on what kind of man one is.” Thus Kant and Fichte – unexpectedly – would have agreed with Kierkegaard: in the last resort there is not theory, just a fundamental practice-ethical decision about what kind of life one wants to commit oneself to.’So Zizek's suggesting the arational basis of the origins of our worldview.
Posted by Jeff Meyerhoff at
3:40 PM Thursday, September 03, 2009
Arational Origin of Worldviews]

[The present yuga-dharma naturally has its own hegemony dictating “Standards of Validity of Truth/Reality/Objectivity” But, these are decidedly inadequate. It is not the question of assuring an equality on a given single plane of consciousness, but an issue of comparing the most difficult incomparables, residing on the two different planes of a hierarchy of cosmic structure of say the seven levels of consciousness. There are no verification standards available. In this predicament, we have to turn, may be reluctantly or skeptically, to those Visionaries, who were born in the human race and favoured us with their wisdom of realization. Mahayogi Aurobindo observers in his "Essays on the Gita", - “The unconscious or half conscious wresting of fact and word and idea to suit a preconceived notion or the doctrine or principle of one's preference is recognized by Indian logicians as one of the most fruitful sources of fallacy; and it is perhaps the one which it is most difficult for even the most conscientious thinker to avoid”. Re: Objectivity by Lorraine Datson & Peter Galison (Book Review by Norberto Serpente) sane yeshwant Wed 09 Sep 2009 07:52 PM PDT (Yeshwant Sane) e-mail: 10-9-2009]

SR/OOO is poised dangerously to foist yet another fallacy in philosophy. A thorough reading of The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo can redeem the situation. [TNM]

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bans in the Post Satanic Verses era

Tusar N Mohapatra said...

Indian reprint of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by Peter Heehs published by Columbia University Press has been prevented by instituting court cases against the author in Orissa in 2008. [TNM] 7:27 PM By Tusar N Mohapatra (Sep 9, 2009 7:34:00 PM)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Court upholds freedom of speech

[Gujarat HC lifts ban on Jaswant book
Times of India - AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: The Gujarat high court on Friday lifted the state government's ban on expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh's book, 'Jinnah-India, ...
Jaswant hails court order Hindu
Gujarat HC sets aside ban on Jaswant Singh's book
SC deals a Modi blow, lifts ban on Jaswant's book Economic Times
BBC News - Calcutta Telegraph all 132 news articles »हिंदी में]

The Lives of Sri Aurobindo by Peter Heehs also deserves a similar tolerant treatment. [TNM]