Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dialogical in Sri Aurobindo and Habermas

Affirming "We are all in his debt," on Jürgen Habermas’s eightieth birthday (The philosopher-citizen 6:39 PM), Charles Taylor underscores several points:

  • "Whereas for Kant the principal criterion of a rational and therefore defensible deliberation was that it was sought universalizable maxims, for Habermas the very notion of deliberation is transformed."
  • "In other words, for Habermas, ethical deliberation is primarily social, dialogical; it is worked out between agents."
  • "Drawing on the work of Weber, Habermas sees modernity as having brought about a transformation in our understanding of reason."
  • "For Plato and much of the Western tradition, reason is a single faculty or power which can strive to define not only the True, but also the Good and the Beautiful. That is, the same reason can establish the shape of all the important dimensions of human life: establishing what really is, deciding what we ought to do, and determining what is truly beautiful. We might speak of the scientific, the moral and the aesthetic dimensions of human life. What Habermas proposes in the place of this is not, as we have seen, a restriction of reason to the scientific domain, and a relegation of morals and aesthetics to the arbitration of emotion or subjective taste. Rather it is a diversification of the very procedures of reason."

Sri Aurobindo too expounded on a similar need for diversification and self-enlargement in the last issue of Arya (January 1921) as below:

  • "The German thinker’s idea that there is a categorical imperative laid upon man to seek after the right and good, an insistent law of right conduct, but no categorical imperative of the Oversoul compelling him to seek after the beautiful or the true, after a law of right beauty and harmony and right knowledge, is a singular misprision. It is a false deduction born of too much preoccupation with the transitional movement of man's mind and, there too, only with one side of its complex phenomena. The Indian thinkers had a wiser sight who, while conceding right ethical being and conduct as a first need, still considered knowledge to be the greater ultimate demand, the indispensable condition, and much nearer to a full seeing came that larger experience of theirs that either through an urge towards absolute knowledge or a pure impersonality of the will or an ecstasy of divine love and absolute delight, — and even through an absorbing concentration of the psychical and the vital and physical being, — the soul turns towards the Supreme and that on each part of our self and nature and consciousness there can come a call and irresistible attraction of the Divine. Indeed, an uplift of all these, an imperative of the Divine upon all the ways of our being, is the impetus of self-enlargement to a complete, an integralising possession of God, freedom and immortality, and that therefore is the highest law of our nature." (Page-214, The Higher Lines Of Truth Part II, The Problem of Rebirth)

It is interesting to note that the Arya began with an invocation to the Kantian categories of God, freedom and immortality in the opening paragraph of The Life Divine, and the scrutiny was on even in the last issue and remained inconclusive. [TNM-201009]

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