Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In defense of subtle parsing

In the near infinite IPS OOO discussion Dial again raises his perennial point on the 'art of living.' He says: "In looking for an answer to your question regarding the textual bodying found in Proust and Neitzsche I found this below. This tradition of writing about the ‘arts of living’ is where I imagined Integral thought should evolve to. It is, after all, where it began. As stimulating as the subtle parsing of ontologies that goes on here, might be, I hardly think it places everyday praxis at the center where it should be. To those who might say this thought is precisely about the decentering of self – anti-correlationism, fine, give me a sense of how you experience this making a cup of tea. Or, how you see it at work in the movement of clouds, or why you think one issue is criminal, while another is not,  and so on and so on. The decentering of self is not a flight from the body of being." (See the thread for the excerpted quote.)

I replied: Again I find this to be your personal preference rather than an indictment of "the subtle parsing of ontologies." Nahamas even admits an 'art of living' type endeavor is but one of many philosophical modes, and by no means best for all. We can grant it a place but it is not a replacement.

Personally I find arts of living to be ironically the most self indulgent of all and rather preachy. And they tend toward the conflation of various paradigms rather than examining their very different and specific methodologies. Again I grant that there can be a meta-contextual thread that loosely ties paradigms together but it must also maintain the differences. Arts of living for me often miss such nuanced distinctions with their over-generalized Oneness.

As but one example, recall the old TV show Kung Fu with David Carradine. It was an endless display of exactly this type of relating new experiences back to his Shaolin training, always finding that common thread of care and compassion while righteously and indignantly kicking someone's ass. Then I bought it hook, line and sinker as some kind of mystic connection to the One great Universe accessed through contemplation. So much so that I embarked on a traditional study of Chinese martial art, and while within it did much the same in terms of relating every experience back to this universal connection to the All. Now many years later I find this so much monistic, self-righteous, inclusivistic perennialism. And metaphysical (in the bad way) to boot. And it is certainly no accident that many who still adhere to traditional eastern philosophies, Buddhism included, seem still caught up in this art of living agenda.

I can allow that one involved with traditional eastern philosophies based in meditation/contemplation can escape the ontotheology and go postmeta, but it seems they are weighted with an especially difficult task to disentangle the quite heavy baggage that accompanies such focus on states of consciousness. To date I don't know that I've seen any do so, even Kennilingam, except of course for our explorations in this forum. And even then only tentatively so, and which exploration is based on highly trained personal experience with such states.  And due largely to the very necessary and critical task of "the subtle parsing of ontologies."

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