from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
Sri Aurobindo is not wanting in offering theory and guidance - Most of Sri Aurobindo's writings come to us in a much revised and heavily edited form. Matters from different periods are also presented thematically as in...2 days ago
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob
When science bumps up against a barrier the task becomes one of finding a way to penetrate or to scale that obstacle. That is what happened to me as I tried to carry forward the divine economy theory that I developed in my first two books.
To overcome this I began with a promise that referred to axioms of a system of ethics, given by a noted ethicist and economist - Murray Rothbard. He wrote: ‘Once articulated and set forth, they impel assent to their truth by a shock of recognition, once articulated, they become evident to the human mind.’ Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, Volume 1, p. 19.
That development is evident in ETHICS of the Divine Economy. Central to each of my first two books were models (built using the subjectivist methodology) of the economy and the microeconomy, respectively. The Model of the Ethics of the Divine Economy ©, (also built using the subjectivist methodology), is the foundation for this new book.
I have attached the book cover, the table of contents, and the list of fifteen axioms of a positive ethical system cited in Chapter Two. If you find the book content interesting go to the attachment that has the links listed. Thank you for your consideration, Bruce Koerber
Monday, May 28, 2007
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1. The tyranny of the State Idea.
2. The crisis of the Nation State.
3. The conflict over language and ethnicity.
4. The challenges of the emerging internationalism.
5. The problem of identity politics in a multicultural society
6. The question of self-determination.Each of these is related to the other, and yet separately, each poses a challenge to our thinking. What insights does Sri Aurobindo offer for the resolution of these crises? The threat of a looming disaster is what seems to define the human condition today. Sri Aurobindo captures aptly this crisis in The Life Divine:At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way… Man has created a system of civilization, which has become too big for his limited mental capacity… a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites.1What, then are the manifestations of this evolutionary crisis in the contemporary world? If we define culture as the entire gamut of our life, and not just a creative expression of a select elite, then we will notice the crisis of contemporary culture in the six areas outlined.
If we look at the past century, we are bound to notice that amidst all the upheavals that mankind has experienced so far, such as the horror of the two World Wars, the Cold War and beyond, there has been a continued tyranny of the State in various forms and political guises: democratic or totalitarian. What accounts for the persistence of this State idea? What is this entity called the State that a chosen few can manipulate, and mete out incredible cruelties to entire populations that shock our collective conscience? What is the alternative to this rapacious State? Consider Sri Aurobindo’s analysis in his work entitled The Ideal of Human Unity:What, after all, is this State idea, this idea of the organized community to which the individual has to be immolated? Theoretically, it is the subordination of the individual to the good of all that is demanded; practically, it is his subordination to a collective egoism, political, military, economic, which seeks to satisfy certain collective aims and ambitions shaped and imposed on the great mass of the individuals by a smaller or larger number of ruling persons who are supposed in some way to represent the community. It is immaterial whether these belong to a governing class or emerge in modern States from the mass partly by force of character, but much more by force of circumstances; nor does it make any essential difference that their aims and ideals are nowadays imposed more by the hypnotism of verbal persuasion than by overt and actual force. In either case, there is no guarantee that this ruling class or ruling body represents the best mind of the nation or its noblest aims or its highest instincts ii.Given the unfolding of cataclysmic events following the rise of fascism and totalitarianism soon after Sri Aurobindo wrote The Ideal of Human Unity in 1918, his views turned out to be prophetic. He added the postscript chapter in 1949 before he left his body in December 1950. Nor did his diagnosis become obsolete in the context of the experiments that have taken place in the socialistic or liberal democracies, in Stalin’s Russia or the America of George W. Bush, as Noam Chomsky rightly points out. The embroilment of the State in all aspects of the citizen’s life is a ubiquitous feature of late capitalism. As Sri Aurobindo argues, such aberrations occur because our understanding of the relationship between the individual self and collective entities is deeply flawed. It is based on shallow principles, founded on exigencies and expediencies rather than resting on deeper psychological factors. This is noticed in other areas of contemporary crisis as well. We must therefore take a look at some of these domains, before attempting any answers in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s ideas.
To a critical observer of present culture, nothing is more troubling than the ongoing problem of selfdetermination, the seemingly inevitable conflict and antagonism ensuing from such drives in the human being. As historian Einslee Embree points out, there is a ceaseless conflict today between the nation and groups of people. From Kashmir to Jaffna, Chechnya to Sudan we witness a clash among groups of citizenry, their opposition to the sovereign states they reside in. What then is self-determination, the desire for individuals and groups to decide their destiny?Sri Aurobindo wrote a chapter called “Self Determination” in his book named War and Self Determination containing a series of essays that first appeared in the philosophical quarterly called Arya between 1916 and 1920. The chapter concerned is to be seen along with another called “Diversity in Oneness,” as part of another series that appeared between September 1915 and July 1918, resulting in a book published in 1919 named The Ideal of Human Unity. Here we can clearly see Sri Aurobindo’s theorization of the concept of self-determination. Clearly, from Woodrow Wilson to the Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh to the present era, we seem to have come a long way. But how does the individual exercise his/her freedom in order to decide his/her destiny? As Sri Aurobindo says:The principle of self-determination really means that within every living human creature, man, woman and child, and equally within every distinct human collectivity, grown, half developed and adult, there is a self, a being, which has the right to grow in its own way, to find itself, to make its life a full and a satisfied instrument and image of its being. This is the first principle which must contain and are top all others, the rest is a question of conditions, means, expedients, accommodations, opportunities, capacities, limitations, none of which must be allowed to abrogate the sovereignty of the first essential principle iii.Similarly, we see that the idea of liberty is often pitted against the idea of law. Such concepts of law may impose desired patterns of social and professional behavior among recalcitrant members of various caste or gender groups among the proletariats or other subordinate sections of society by dominant sections. As Sri Aurobindo notes in a comical vein:We see a similar confusion of ideas in the claim of European statesmen to train Asiatic or African peoples to liberty, which means in fact to teach them in the beginning liberty in the school of subjugation and afterwards to compel them to each stage in the progress of a mechanical self government to satisfy the tests and notions imposed on them by a being and consciousness instead of developing freely a type and law of their own iv.Sri Aurobindo concludes that the right approach would be to start the “self-determination of the free individual within the free collectivity in which he lives”, “because so only can we be sure of a healthy growth of freedom and because too the unity to be arrived at is that of individuals growing freely towards perfection and not of human machines working in regulated unison or of souls suppressed, mutilated and cut into one or more fixed geometrical patterns.”
The problem of self-determination in the contemporary world is also seen in the form of what is known as identity politics. Democratic societies in the contemporary world wedded to pluralistic or multicultural ideals promote various identity formations, based on gender, caste, class and race. In the U.S. there is an attempt to move from the ideals of the melting pot to those of the salad bowl or the mosaic in the form of hyphenated identities such as the Hispanic, Native American, Korean, South Asian or Japanese American. Similarly, in recent times Indian polity has witnessed caste based mobilization and identity formation based on different language-groups and ethnic communities. While all these may fulfill legitimate democratic aspirations, they also lead frequently to mutual conflicts, fractured polity and civic strife. Opposition based on linguistic and ethnic factors equally manifests in the cultural domain in academia in the form of what is known today as “culture wars.” In higher education in the West or the East, there is an increasing and legitimate demand today by marginalized groups for greater literary-cultural space in terms of the texts to be read in the classroom. New anthologies such as the “Heath” and “Norton” based on new scholarship by cultural critics, and feminists have revealed many of our blind spots. Here again, we are still groping as to how the various groups and approaches are to negotiate with each other on equal footing in terms of shared literary-cultural space. Identity politics in the domain of caste also engages the attention of Sri Aurobindo in his earlier writings. In his essay entitled “The Unhindu Spirit of Caste Rigidity,” written on 20 September 1907. This is what he had to say:The caste system was once productive of good, and as a fact has been a necessary phase of human progress through which all the civilizations of the world have had to pass. The autocratic form of Government has similarly had its use in the development of the world’s polity, for there was certainly a time when it was the only kind of political organization that made the preservation of society possible. The Nationalist does not quarrel with the past, but individual or class autocracy into the autocracy, self-rule or Swaraj, of the nation of the fixed, hereditary, anti-democratic casteorganization into the public self-adapting, democratic distribution of function at which socialism aims. In the present absolutism in politics and the present narrow caste-organization in society he finds a negation of that equality which his religion enjoins. Both must be transformed. The historic problem that the present attitude of Indian Nationalism at once brings to the mind, as to how a caste-governed society could co-exist with a democratic religion and philosophy, we do not propose to consider here today. We only point out that Indian Nationalism must by its inherent tendencies move towards the removal of unreasoning and arbitrary distinctions and inequalities. Ah! He will say, this is exactly what we Englishmen have been telling you all these years. You must get rid of your caste before you can have democracy. There is just a little flaw in this advice of the Anglo-Indian monitors, it puts the cart before the horse, and that is the reason why we have always refused to act upon it. vThe problem of multiculturalism also extends to the domain of the emerging international order. We see facets of this order in the form of what has come to be known as globalization thanks to the rise of the unipolar world. We witness the leveling of all differences, in the form of economic and cultural homogenization. National sovereignty resting on the claims of groups of nations to decide their own destinies unfortunately is giving away to unilateralism by international political forces and agencies. In this way internationalism militates against national and regional aspirations and becomes anti-democratic. Assuredly, there is recognition of the problem in all these areas by leading cultural critics and political theorists today. Yet our efforts seem to move inexorably in a pendulum like manner, from optimism to despair. It is here that, we may consider the answer Sri Aurobindo provides. As he writes insightfully:The right idea of self-determination makes a clear sweep of these confusions. It makes it clear that liberty should proceed by the development of the law of ones own being determined from within, evolving out of oneself and not determined from outside by the idea and will of another. These remain the problem of relations, of the individual and collective self-determination and of the interactions of the self-determination of one on the selfdetermination of another. That cannot be finally settled by any mechanical solution, but only by the discovery of some meeting place of the law of our self-determination with the common law of mutuality, where they began to become one. It signifies in fact the discovery of an inner and larger self other than the mere ego, in which our individual self-fulfillment no longer separates us from others but at each stage of our growth calls far an increasing unity v.
To sum up: I have attempted to recognize some of the outstanding problems of contemporary society and culture. In the areas delineated such as identity politics, the tyranny of the State Idea, the crisis of the Nation State, the emergent international order, and the question of self-determination, we find legitimate human aspirations for greater diversity but we seem to lack a principle for greater cohesion. Sri Aurobindo suggests that such a principle could in fact rest on deeper psychological and spiritual factors that transcend the human ego. That is where true mutuality would be possible. His philosophy of creative evolution gives us assurance of such a vision. We can retrieve from this vision, insights for the right governance of our individual and collective life. Ultimately, that remains both a hope and a challenge to our current thinking. Sachidananda Mohanty is Professor of English at the University of Hyderabad. He had his early education at the Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education. Dr. Mohanty is the recipient of several national and international awards including the Fulbright, the British Council and the Salzburg, and has published extensively on literature and culture. References:
2 Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine , Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1939; rpt 2004 p. 1092.
ii The Ideal of Human Unity, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1919: rpt, 1998, p. 26
iii War and Self-Determination, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1920: rpt ,1962, pp. 838-39
iv Ibid, p.843.
v On Nationalism, Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1965: rpt 1996 ,p. 229.
vi,War and Self-Determination, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram,1920: rpt, 1962, p. 843.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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20. Siegel, Eli. Self and World: An explanation of Aesthetic Realism. Excerpt from Aesthetic Realism. 21. Sri Aurobindo. 1990. The future evolution of man. Edited by P.B.Saint Hillaire ISBN 81-7058-219-9. PP: 148. V.R.Manoj is a Research Scholar at the Centre for Environmental Studies, Anna University, India. His area of research is biological wastewater treatment.
Yours sincerely, Toshio SuzukiReply
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry - 605002
Date: 13-08-97. Ref. No. : 208/WU-WFM(JAPAN) /97-98Mr. Toshio Suzuki, 1-158 Nakakanasugi, Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, JAPAN 270.
Sub: World Govt. Movement in India.
To myself it is not surprising but a very pleasant occasion, for after a gap of nearly three decades I received your loving letter of the 24th ultimo requesting Word Union's collaboration in launching World Government Movement in Japan, as also in India.
Not far away from the town’s White district, abounding with French heritage buildings and historic monuments, is the Tamil quarter, separated by a storm water canal and set apart by its own distinct architectural expression. Here, the enthusiasm for the French game of Petanque almost equals the love for idli, dosa and rasam.Magical mix My love affair with this somewhat old-fashioned city, where folks love to cycle and sun worshippers rise early, began at the Cercle de Pondicherry on a drizzly evening. The elitist club is a stone’s throw from the city’s most famous monument — the Aayi Mandapam, built to honour a courtesan who lived in the 16th century. Over several rounds of beer, pomfret and smutty jokes, my hosts, Gunasekhar and his friends — a group of decorated former French combatants — demystified Pondicherry for me.
One of them spoke in a pompous tone, but I decided to forgive as much — after all, he turned out to be a repository of information on Pondicherry for which I would have otherwise had to rummage through volumes at the Romain Rolland Library at the French Institute on Rue Dumas.
Had he not tipped me off, I would have almost missed the cross-influence of building patterns in the Tamil quarter, where a few two-storied buildings are a fusion of two unconnected styles of architecture — Tamil architectural patterns on the ground floor and the European classical style on the first floor.
The oldies asked me to join them for a game of tennis at the club the next morning. The offer came tagged with an invitation for tea at the Foyer du Soldat, a building where retired soldiers hang out to relive a shared past. City of Dawn Hard pressed for time, I skipped both and found myself headed for Auroville, envisioned by The Mother, Mirra Alfassa, as a symbol of human unity and a place of unending education, of constant progress and youth that never ages.
Barely 15 kms from Pondicherry off the East Coast road to Chennai, Auroville is for those who aspire to a higher and truer life, and seek to transform the world through ‘the power of the inner spirit’. As someone restively waiting for the yearly pay rise, I am not really sure if I had attained higher levels of consciousness to be in Auroville, amid its 1,700 inhabitants from 35 countries.
Auroville and its red earth lend themselves to a mixed bag of activities. Aurovillians keep themselves busy with research into a cashless economy, environmental regeneration, organic farming, village development, handicraft, healthcare and renewable energy.
In Auroville, which is French for City of Dawn, work is not a way to earn one’s living, but to express oneself and develop one’s capabilities while being of service to the community, which provides for each individual’s subsistence.Auroville’s soul is the Matrimandir, which I initially thought was a temple. However, there are no idols here, no rituals and no priests. They say it is the perfect setting for inner search and spiritual transformation.
The taxi driver’s words were weighing on my mind. He said: “Sir, anything more than three hours and you will have to pay a waiting charge of Rs 500.” Sounds irreverent? Well, the underlying philosophy at Auroville is to live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority — the supreme truth. So, it is okay, I guess.
One thing you don’t want to do is snoop around the 90-odd settlements in this international township. Aurovillians feel affronted. I decided to preserve my exploratory urges until I was back on the inviting streets of Pondicherry. The town’s French quarter abounds with magnificent bluish-grey buildings that are an integral part of its architectural ensemble. The colour signifies that the properties belong to Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.
I invited Gunasekhar for a meal to my hotel, to share my perceptions of the city. I smugly told him I had seen virtually the whole of Pondicherry, its well-known temples, the Ashram, traditional houses in the Muslim area, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient…
I was cut short by his amused look. “Yanam in Andhra Pradesh and Mahe in Kerala were French settlements,” he said. “They are a part of the Union Territory of Pondicherry.” He had made his point. Pondicherry is perhaps the most spread out territory in the country and my short southern sojourn did not offer me the luxury to travel far and wide. But I am sure wanderlust will take me back to the place someday, to discover every strand, every fascinating facet. Email author: email@example.com