Sunday, December 25, 2011

More on religious difference

Here are a few more excerpts of the discussion I started in this post.


In my paper, as you know, I tried to reason from certain principles within recent Integral thought towards a conclusion which really is not embraced by Wilber at this date -- one which is more "pluralist" and less "ontotheological" than the official version of Integral remains.

Right now, I find myself in an uncertain place, still aligned with the overall intent of my paper, and in general agreement with some of the critiques offered by Levinas and OOO (among others), and yet also wanting to honor unity experiences.  For instance, on the one hand, an argument for the irreducibility of otherness and difference seems to provide ethical protection against totalizing metaphysics which would seek to absorb all others into its own understanding or form (and this was largely the thrust of the argument in my paper); on the other hand, there is a kenotic, self-emptying movement, a movement towards union with or deep opening to other in which self is released and something greater is birthed, and in light of which an insistence on irreducible difference could be seen as a reactive movement of self-preservation, of self-contraction in the face of a progressive dissolution.

If pressed, I think I'd still want to say that particularity is not lost even in such a movement.  But there's that death moment in kenotic agape, and orgasmic release, in which dissolution of self is blissful, desired, fulfilling.  Insistence on absolute otherness can be related to as the inverse of the demand for the inviolability and impregnability of "self" (no one will make demands on, or ever "have," me!), and the history behind God-as-inscrutable Other is not without its own problems*, so I'm leaning in the direction of a (paradoxical) holding of both otherness and union+.

* God's inscrutability and resistance to reason has, in the past, been used to prop up, or enforce, doctrinal absolutes, and to insulate them from rational critique.

+ Or, negatively framed, settling neither for oneness nor manyness as a metaphysical absolute.


I saw the movie A Dangerous Method yesterday. There is much to explore about it and I may start a thread later, but I want to bring up a couple of its points here. Freud keeps bringing up to Jung the significance of his Jewish heritage distinct from his Aryan milieu. This is also a point in Bendle's article with Rosenzweig and Levinas, that having survived the holocaust makes concrete the devastating reality of what comes from an Aryan totalitarian paradigm and hence their response to it. One of the ways this plays out is Freud's insistence that psychoanalytic interpretation stick to the concrete, like sexuality, whereas Jung keeps searching for 'mystical' unities, rather endemic in the German idealists.

Another interesting relevance in the movie is the idea of the death wish, which apparently Freud got from Fraulein Spielrein, once a rather disturbed but 'cured' patient of Jung. Like what you note above she talked of the dissolution of self during the sexual orgasm, and that this wish for union was indeed a wish for the death of the ego. But again, she seemed to side with Freud on this one, that this was not some sort of metaphysical or religious union with a totalizing All but rather a more concrete notion of putting aside one's individuality in service of a broader, social self. This is something we see playing out with Bendle and the religious polydox in general.

The quotes I culled from the article above make clear though that this pluralism of the other is not an other in distinction from the self, as if they were opposites in a formal logic. It comes from "another category of understanding, a ‘mode of intelligibility’...beyond/ before the formal relations of logic." This is not to say that it is sans some kind of unity experience, for there is the mix of the death and sex instinct per above that leads to a more just social polity. It is just sans the ontotheological kind of unity that totalizes and subsumes difference. Just as there is a form of unity in OOO's strange mereology that also resists this totalitarianism. And just as there is a sort of paradoxical holding of unity and diversity, self and other, sameness and difference in the likes of differance, it is of a different kind than that of the Hegelian dialectic. And yes, it too is a kind of absolute (or perhaps ontology), but again a bird of a different feather fully amenable to rational critique.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also reminded of the work of another Jewish philosopher, David Michael Levin. Recall this thread,* an extension of an earlier Gaia thread. In particular this post,* and the few following, highlight some of the topics in this thread. For example this quote, taken from a reference Balder provided above it:

    "What I want to argue voices of the non-identical: what cannot be subsumed and the 'sober,' tone-deaf concepts produced by our strictly 'rational' understanding—a hearing in excess of, or say beyond, our concepts for grasping and comprehending them; a hearing impossible within the ontologies codified by both rationalism and empiricism, both of which enshrine in reification the structure that positions a subjective interior opposite an objective exterior” (65-6).

    I recall in our previous discussions of Levin that he too saw a postformal means of apprehension after formal rationality. But it too was also not of the Hegelian and kennilingual transcend-and-include variety. Rather in his stage 4 we (re)turned inward and downward, more fully incorporating (embodying) the always already with the not yet, in a sense a much more transformal move like we see above than one of an extended, formal rationale of increasing complexity.

    * See the IPS thread for the embedded links.


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