Thursday, April 30, 2009

If only books went straight like an arrow to their target audience

[I cut my teeth on history with Will Durant’s massive 11 volume History of Civilization. I found a dusty copy of Durkheim’s Division of Labor in Society at a small and foul smelling used bookstore in a town named Zoar. I read everything by Dostoyevsky I could get my hands on, and read a good deal of Kafka as well. Back in those days we did not have mega-bookstores or online bookstores, so you read whatever you happened to find. My first copy of Kant’s Critique was so ancient that I had to cut the pages. Each book I found was like a rare treasure and I assumed that it was this way with all great books… That there were very few of them to be found throughout the world and only a handful of people had read them.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that from the very beginning I experienced a strong conflict or tension between literature (I originally wanted to be a novelist but lack talent where writing is concerned), the social sciences, and philosophy. At a purely methodological level, how can the claims of the various “human sciences” be reconciled with those of philosophy?
Larval Subjects March 12, 2007 Scattered Thoughts on Dialectical Reason Posted by larvalsubjects here. 9:48 AM 3:09 PM]

[Re: Many Laughs—Humor by Anonymous Mirror of Tomorrow
by RY Deshpande on Wed 29 Apr 2009 09:03 PM IST Profile Permanent Link
One has to feel for oneself if a particular work has power to elevate one’s consciousness, can put one in contact with spiritual verities, bring calm, joy, light, strength, an all-embracing harmony, higher intuition, or else if it makes possible an assured psychic opening, opens the inner domains, leads to the revealing occult depths.

[Re: Many Laughs—Humor by Anonymous Mirror of Tomorrow
by Kepler on Wed 29 Apr 2009 09:28 PM IST Profile Permanent Link
Supriyo, If you are new to Sri Aurobindo, I would personally suggest that none of those biographies are the right place to turn. Sri Aurobindo's own writings are the right source - some of the compilations from his letters on yoga (e.g. Bases of Yoga), and his small book "The Mother" are among the best starting points. The Life Divine is of course the source for his philosophy. For autobiographical info the volume "On Himself" is the gold standard. All biographies are necessarily interpretations and products of the author’s perspectives and biases... Kepler]

[Re: Against the grain and With the Grain: A Short Review of "The Lives of Sri Aurobindo" by J. Kepler Science, Culture and Integral Yoga
by Kepler on Wed 25 Feb 2009 06:08 PM PST Profile Permanent Link
Debashish, Thanks for your comments, they are well taken. You're no doubt correct that considered within the limited context of its particular academic target audience, the book appears much more in focus and generally appropriate in content and style. If only books went straight like an arrow to their target audience and struck no one else! The shifting dynamics of the “intended audience” for an intellectual work sounds like a good candidate for postmodern research.]

Wide and varied reading is a sine qua non for inculcating critical reason. If books were enough why do we track various blogs then? While swabhav is the final veto, sacrificing integrality is not a very admirable trait. [TNM]

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