Friday, 19 February 2010

The intersubjective in Buber and Lonergan

I am reading through Anthony Sumer's dissertation on Buber. It strikes me that Lonergan adopted the language of the I-Thou when he talked about primordial intersubjectivity, or of the subject-subject relation, which he contrasted with the subject-object relation. Of course, Lonergan's nuances will be different; he would not go along with Buber's sometime Kantian basis, and with Buber's probably Kantian understanding of object as Gegen-stand...

I think Lonergan's distinction between experiential and explanatory conjugates is also relevant here. The intersubjective would be in the sphere of the experiential - whether it is interhuman, or human-divine (religious experience). But, in Lonergan's thinking, this does not invalidate the move to the explanatory; and hence the place of doctrines, dogmas, etc. which Lonergan places clearly, not on the level of experience, but on the level of judgment. Buber, expectedly, would not like to have much to do with dogma.

I would need to get back to my Rome 2001 paper on Religious Experience and Expression and revisit these topics.

Indian philosophy at Divyadaan

Our Indian philosophy syllabus in Divyadaan is very much a reproduction of what was being done in Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, when we were students there. It is thus heavily weighted in favour of the written tradition, which is also the dominant tradition of Brahminic Hinduism for the most part - except perhaps the last part, the Contemporary Indian Philosophy, which draws on a mixed bag.

It is also rather strictly restricted to the 'philosophical' aspect of the dominant tradition, leaving aside the 'religious' aspects, the itihasas, the puranas, the folklore, the rituals, the stories, the myths, the legends, all the spice of Hinduism. That, I suppose, JDV used to relegate to the theology department, and we in a small way to the course called 'Religions of India.' (In this sense, Religious Hinduism, ed. Neuner and De Smet, was more balanced.)

We would need to integrate: the 'religious'; the political and economical (Chanakya, for example); the aesthetic; and so on.

And we would need to look out for the subaltern basis / context upon which all this arises. Maliekal used to do a good job on this in Karunapuram.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Linguistic spheres not monadic

Habermas writes that hermeneutics shows that linguistic spheres are never monadically shut but are, rather, permeable from without as well as from within. From without, because a language is open, and can in principle express everything that can be said and understood. its horizon therefore is in continuous expansion. From within, because linguistic agents can distance themselves from their own expressions in order to interpret them, reflect on them, etc. All this, Habermas learned from Gadamer: that language can transcend itself and thereby exhibits potential for rationality.

This in contrast to Wittgenstein. In Wittgenstein's thesis that linguistically constituted life forms were closed, as if each agent were monadically trapped in its language world, Habermas discerned traces of positivism.

(Jean Grondin, Introduction to Philosophical Hermeneutics, New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 1994, 130)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

The thrust of thinking in Divyadaan

The other day two young philosophy students asked me a good question: why is there so much of Lonergan in Divyadaan, and why is Divyadaan against postmodernism?

Or perhaps they said: people are saying that there is too much of Lonergan, and a distaste for postmodernism.

Is there, and is it, I ask myself.

Perhaps. Naturally, also. I believe that the only way to get out of a religion or a philosophy is to either rise to the heights or plumb the depths. Only when one becomes a mystic or an adept might one arrogate to oneself the right to pass judgment.

So: plumb the depths of - whatever: Lonergan, Derrida, Heidegger, Vattimo, Rorty....

The point is to plumb the depths. The point is to read, really read, and think, allow oneself to be challenged, stimulated, provoked.

Does Divyadaan really read and think? Or is it content to mouth platitudes, commonplaces, Selbstverstaendlichkeiten?

And nothing like the original texts of thinkers to stimulate one's thinking.

We need to recover the art of reading.

Then reading would become an aesthetic experience: something that calls for leisure, in contrast to the hurry and haste to 'finish'.

Then we would have conversation, dialectic, dialogue.

Then there would be life.