Kingdom Come: Postmetaphysical Inclusivism? (My Conference Paper)

Per Ed's request, I'm posting a copy of the paper I just submitted for the upcoming IT Conference.  I only had 3 days to work on it, so I ended up rushing on it and I'm not entirely satisfied with the end.  I went in the general direction I wanted, but in the presentation I'll definitely try to clarify my proposal more and provide more concrete suggestions.  If you've read some of my old blogs, you'll see (in the interest of time, since I had so little of it; and also in the spirit of Wilber!), I've used material from some of them to flesh it out ... but there is still a good bit of new material in it!

 

Technically, this paper is not supposed to be published anywhere.  I don't think a forum really counts as "publication," but just in case, I'll leave it up only for a short time.  You will find it attached below.

 

Best wishes,

 

B.

 

P.S.  I have removed the attachment and replaced it with a link (above) to the pdf of the paper which is posted on the ITC website.

 

 

Views: 734

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It's a good, quick way to take into consideration Wilber's critique. But this notion could be expanded, if you had the time, into how it relates to the overall project of the paper. For example, how an IMP via Whitehead's ideas (through Griffin et al, including Wilber and Levin) hold this tension between the ever-changing and finite quasi-univerals with the infinitely open, and in that sense changeless, horizon of the not yet. But that would add another 20 pages. Perhaps Chapter 2 in your forthcoming book on the topic? Published by whom, SUNY? Shambhala?

Yes, I agree -- this is brief and only scratches the surface, really.  I like how you have framed what is waiting to be 'opened'; very well said.  I played this morning with writing more than what I posted above, but it felt to be getting quite involved and, yes, could easily turn into another 20 pages.  Do you think the above is at least "good enough" for present purposes?  (I am planning out a paper on a postmetaphysical take on Wilber's 3 Faces of Spirit and may bring some of this into it.)

 

*About an (eventual) book, that's an interesting idea... Yes, I'm thinking about it!  You should, too...

I think your footnote is good enough if you foreshadow the forthcoming and as yet (not yet) paper that will expand on it. Authors do this frequently. This creates an expectant anticipation for you're not yet paper on not yet in general, a sort of double entendre tease.

Good point.  For now, here is my concluding sentence to that footnote:

 

I plan to further explore the relationship between the ‘always already’ and ‘not yet,’ as an aspect of a post-metaphysical ‘Kingdom come’ vision, in an upcoming work.

 

(I say 'for now' because this really does relate to the project of this paper, too, so I may yet go back and find a way to better integrate it.  I guess right now I'm wanting to be done with this one and moving on to the next...)

Good work, Watson! I'll have to look at the particular use of these metaphors.


e said:

Hi Balder,

Reread the passage from Halbfass, and it will become clear to you what is going on.

Halbfass says, with regard to the later Vedantins, that they are interested in the "discarding... of... distinctions;... the neutralization of other views...". He then says that they are not interested in the "identification of specific... concepts with specific aspects of one's own system." The Jaina system, on the other hand, "recognizes other views as parts and aspects of its own totality."

He then goes on, in the next paragraph, to describe the Kauladharma in terms of the image of the elephant's footprints which he says "obliterate the footprints of all other animals." He then says that the image of the rivers  -- which I had traced to the Chandogya Upanishad, but incorrectly identified with Advaita Vedanta (it's a Bheda-abheda or "difference and identity" Vedanta image) -- is used by the Samkhya-Yoga philosopher Vijnanabhikshu to assert that the other systems are "contained in the Yoga... just as rivers are preserved and absorbed by the ocean."

It's fairly clear to my mind that, by the language he uses, Halbfass intends to align the late Saiva usage of the elephant's footprint with the intent of the Advaita doxographers, and that he intends to align the Samkhya-Yoga use of the river image with the intent of the Jaina doxographers and anekanta philosophers.

This is only to be expected: The later Yoga philosophers had developed a realist theory of "modes" (bhava) very much akin to the Jaina ontology. Like the Bheda-abheda Vedantins, who preceded the Advaitins, both were interested in the retention of difference.

This can only mean that Banerji has, in fact, reversed the proper designation of the images.

 

 

Balder said:

Kela, as I mentioned in my post yesterday, I appreciate your taking the time to do this -- even if, as it turns out, you were only under the temporary spell of Inelia.  I had found a few of the typos and issues you mentioned while I was reading through the paper on my call with Wilber, but there were a number of others that I had not, so your stylistic and other suggestions are helpful.


Kela:  As I said before, Banerjee's account of Halbfass doesn't seem to be accurate. The one image (rivers) is from the Vedanta (Chandogya Up), while the second (the elephant's footprint) is late Shaiva; it is not Jaina. If you get asked to publish, you may want to go to the horse's mouth directly and quote Halbfass himself. But let me look up Halbfass once again and be sure.

 

I recalled you had commented on this apparent discrepancy before, back on my blog, but I no longer had record of those comments.  So, I purchased Halbfass's book (India and Europe) this weekend so I could research this.


Here is the passage by Banerji which I quoted in my paper:


In his discussion of inclusivism, Halbfass points to the discursive tendency of traditional sectarian Indian thought to develop doxographies in which ‘others' are neutralized through inclusion and subordination. In this, he divides the strategy of inclusivism into two major types, based on images developed within the Indic tradition. The two images are: (1) that of the ocean into which rivers merge, discharging their waters and losing their names, but remaining preserved in essence and substance; (2) that of the elephant's footstep, which includes through exceeding the footsteps of other animals, covering larger terrain than any of them individually and erasing or obliterating them in the process. Halbfass characterizes these strategies as hierarchism and perspectivism respectively, and sees examples of the first in Advaita Vedanta and the second in Jaina doxographies.


And here is (presumably) the text by Halbfass to which Banerji is referring:


In addition to the "vertical," hierarchical model of inclusivism, there is also a "horizontal" model, which is typified by the Jaina doxographies.  The Jainas present their own system not as the transcending culmination of lower stages of truth, but as the complete and comprehensive context, the full panorama which comprises other doctrines as partial truths or limited perspectives.  Although these two models are not always kept apart in doxographic practice, they represent clearly different types of inclusion.  The subordination of other views to the Vedantic idea of brahman or the Madhyamaka viewpoint of "emptiness" (sunyata) postulates an ascent which is at the same time a discarding and transcendence of doctrinal distinctions; the inclusion and neutralization of other views is not a subordinating identification of specific foreign concepts with specific aspects of one's own system, but an attempt to supersede and transcend specific concepts and conceptual and doctrinal dichotomies in general.  The Jaina perspectivism, on the other hand, represents a horizontally coordinating inclusivism which recognizes other views as parts and aspects of its own totality.  Of course, the Jainas, too, claim a superior vantage point, and a higher level of reflection.


Among the familiar inclusivistic images, we find the metaphor of the many rivers which are united in the one ocean, and that of the footprints of the elephant which obliterate the footprints of all other animals.  Adopting a formula which the Mahabharata had used to glorify the ethics of ahimsa, several Tantric texts declare that the various religious traditions are contained and disappear in the Tantric tradition, specifically in the kauladharma, in the same manner in which the footprints of other creatures disappear in those of the elephant.  Vijnanabhiksu, the leading representative of the revival of classical Samkhya and Yoga in the sixteenth century, states that the other systems are contained in the Yoga of Patanjali and Vyasa just as rivers are preserved and absorbed by the ocean.  Both metaphors illustrate the idea of inclusion, but with a significant difference.  The ocean extinguishes the individuality of the rivers, but it also preserves them and needs them for its own fullness.  The footprints of the elephant simply obliterate the other footprnts.  This ambiguity is a pervasive and symptomatic phenomenon in the history of inclusivism, and it recalls the fundamental ambiguity in the Hegelian concept of "Aufhebung."

 

The links are not entirely clear to me, but it appears Banerji, following Halbfass, is suggesting that the relation between Jainism and the elephantine footprint image is one of "kind" rather than that the image actually comes from the Jain tradition.  What do you think?

 

e, yes, I meant to write earlier -- thank you for the links to the use of these metaphors in the Pali canon.


kela, your reading makes sense to me.  I also had wondered which metaphor was supposed to apply to which type of inclusivism (thinking perhaps Banerji had reversed them, or perhaps was even mistakenly linking them back to the previous discussion when Halbfass maybe hadn't intended that).


Just to help me think this through, I'm going to try to reason through Banerji's reading.  Your interpretation is likely better, but I'm going to offer an opposite reading to see how it holds up.


In Halbfass' discussion, he describes the Vedantic and Madhyamaka forms of inclusion first, and labels them vertical or hierarchical; then he discusses an alternative, horizontal model, which he says is exemplified by the Jainist approach.  In the following paragraph, he offers two metaphors, and the order in which he presents them (river-to-ocean first, elephant footprint second) would seem to suggest that he is associating the former with hierarchical inclusion and the latter with horizontal/perspectivist, especially if he is trying to maintain parallelism between his paragraphs.  If your reading is correct, then Halbfass has presented the metaphors in the opposite order in which he has described the two types of inclusivism, which would possibly explain Banerji's mistake.


But going with what I imagine to be Banerji's reading:  In a prior paragraph, which I didn't type up, Halbfass talked about the Vedantic, hierarchical strategy of the inclusion and neutralization of all other paths and truths in the "one truth" of sat or pure being.  The ocean metaphor seems consonant with this understanding: all other perspectives are included in, are subordinated and neutralized in, the 'ultimate' field (or ocean) of pure being, the 'transcending culmination' of all the various rivers' paths.  The elephant's footprint, through its sheer size, 'encompasses' the tracks of smaller animals, being a 'larger view' (a complete and comprehensive context, rather than a transcendent 'essential truth').  But while the larger view ideally 'includes' other traditions and perspectives, in practice, it actually erases them because it becomes 'the' system which is most complete and comprehensive -- rendering other approaches obsolete (since all is 'accounted for' in this bigger, better, more comprehensive model).


I'm not sure if this is really the best reading (as I said, yours makes sense to me), but I can imagine Banerji thinking along these lines (and, also, just following what he expected to be a parallelism in the order that the types of inclusion and the metaphors were discussed).  Also, my latter discussion of the "effective erasure of otherness" in the all-including, comprehensive model (here, in the context of Jainism) aligns with a critique I've offered of Integral in the past: that, in its attempt to 'include everything,' it may end up effectively erasing other approaches (or at least becoming 'deaf' to them in their present particularity because it imagines it has already 'included' them).

 

I recognize that in the case of the Tantra example, the erasure of other paths in its superior 'footprint' was intentional and unapologetic; whereas for Jainism, this may not have been intentional, but the metaphor could still be applied to its approach (this time from a perspective critical of inclusivism).

Hi Balder,

Have a look at the chapter in Halbfass' book titled "The Sanskrit Doxographers..." for a more detailed account of the differences between the Jaina and Advaita Vedantin forms of inclusivism, as well as on inclusivism in classical India in general.

Fo interest's sake, you might also want to have a look at sub-section 9, in the chapter on the "Comparative Method" where he briefly discusses Masson-Oursel's idea that in comparison, we compare "analogs," an idea that sounds a bit like "homeomorphic equivalences."

Actually the whole book is worth reading and considering, but one can also read selectively from it since the chapters are more like independent essays. The chapter on "Experience," in particular, has been influential and widely discussed. ;-)

cheers

Hi Balder,
Here is my diagnosis of how the problem emerged. Banerji may have initially been mislead by the initial order that Halbfass presents the images. Notice, however, that Halbfass's extended discussion does indeed follow the order of the discussion in the previous paragraph.

The next idea that is potentially misleading is the image of the rivers, which is one of several images presented in the Chandogya Upanishad. This text is typically seen as a text of Vedanta, and so it would be natural to associate it with Advaita Vedanta, as I too had initially.This may be what has happened to Banerji.

However, the "non-dualism" of this Upanishad is not necessarily identical with that of the later Advaitins, and certainly, the Vedanta of the Bhedabhedavadins was not that of the later Advaitins.

The next thing that is potentially misleading is the mentioning of Vijnanabhikshu. Now Vijnanabhikshu had also written commentaries on Vedanta works, and he is part of a general trend we see around the time that he was writing in which a kind of Yoga-Vedanta " syncretism" or synthesis was emerging. His personal position appears to have been some form of modified bhedabheda position, one that had made "concessions" toward non-dualism. However, here, Halbfass is referring to Vijnanabhikshu's commentary on the Yoga Sutras, and I think that is noteworthy..

As I noted already, there is a parallelism between the Yoga conception of modes (bhava) and the Jaina conception of modes (paryaya). This parallelism, in terms of their realist ontologies, may be in the back of Halbfass' mind when he subsumes both the Jaina model of inclusivism and that of the Yoga commentators under one type. He may also have in the back of his mind that the Mahanirvana Tantra's use of the elephant's footprint approximates certain conceptions in Advaita Vedanta, since the Kaula Shaivism also amounts to some form of non-dualism, as in the Shaivism of Kashmir.

The primarily difference between the Jaina and Advaita Vedanta forms of inclusivism is that one is "horizontal" -- the circle of viewpoints, or nayacakra, of the Jains, wherein each position is incomplete and "needs" the other positions to "fill it out" -- and the "hierarchical" form of inclusivism where each position transcends and super-cedes the previous position in a "ladder" of viewpoints. What Halbfass appears to be doing is "fleshing" out the initial difference a bit more, as well as indicating a notion of types of inclusivism by bringing in other examples (here Yoga and Kaula Shavism).

Halbfass appears to be suggesting that the one form of inclusivism tends toward the "obliteration" of the other view, and hence leans toward the "transcending" side of the formula, while the other form tends toward the "retention" of the other view, and hence leans toward the "including" side of the well known formula.

Before I came to this reading, I had entertained the idea (then deleted the post) that the two paragraphs may not even be connected. However, when I looked more closely at the language Halbfass uses ("neutralizes/obliterates"; "recognizes/preserves") it struck me that he had indeed intended for the two to be related.

cheers.

Yes, your reading is a convincing one for me.  I have considered including a direct quotation from Halbfass in my paper, but the paragraphs we've been investigating seem more involved and harder to follow, out of context, than Banerji's brief summary.  Do you think I would be violating scholarly etiquette too much to switch Banerji's points (1) and (2) in his listing of the metaphors, and then perhaps note that emendation in a footnote?  If I did that, I would also be happy to include an acknowledgement to you, if you want to tell me your non-screen name...  Or I could thank the mysterious kela, Muni of Play...

Hi Balder,

I notice that I should not have associated the term "neutralizes" with "obliterates" but instead should have paired "obliterates" with "discards," since Halbfass uses the term "neutralize" to refer to both forms of inclusivism.

You write,

Halbfass talked about the Vedantic, hierarchical strategy of the inclusion and neutralization of all other paths and truths in the "one truth" of sat or pure being.  The ocean metaphor seems consonant with this understanding: all other perspectives are included in, are subordinated and neutralized in, the 'ultimate' field (or ocean) of pure being, the 'transcending culmination' of all the various rivers' paths.  The elephant's footprint, through its sheer size, 'encompasses' the tracks of smaller animals, being a 'larger view' (a complete and comprehensive context, rather than a transcendent 'essential truth').  But while the larger view ideally 'includes' other traditions and perspectives, in practice, it actually erases them because it becomes 'the' system which is most complete and comprehensive -- rendering other approaches obsolete (since all is 'accounted for' in this bigger, better, more comprehensive model).


This seems to be a fair enough account of the two views (and indeed Banerji himself is even more explicit when he says that the rivers also have their essence "preserved in substance") but I'm not sure how what you say here gets Banerji out of the predicament he has got himself into, confusing Halbfass' use of the images. Look now again at Banerji's own langauge: What kind of sense does it make to say that Jainism is interested in the "obliteration" of other views when Halbfass himself says that they are interested in seeing other views as "parts and aspects" of their own view?

It appears that Banerji's own predilection toward the Vedanta of Aurobindo has caused him to engage in some sort of unconscious polemic against the Jainas, and thereby misread Halbfass in the process.

 

Kela:  What kind of sense does it make to say that Jainism is interested in the "obliteration" of other views when Halbfass himself says that they are interested in seeing other views as "parts and aspects" of their own view?


Yes, I agree.  Which is why I wrote the following in my previous post:  "I recognize that in the case of the Tantra example, the erasure of other paths in its superior 'footprint' was intentional and unapologetic; whereas for Jainism, this may not have been intentional, but the metaphor could still be applied to its approach (this time from a perspective critical of inclusivism)."   My sense was that Banerji might be applying this as a critique to Jainism (or, as you say, possibly letting his Aurobindian allegiances color his interpretation of Jainism).

 

Here's one way I could render Banerji's paragraph (assuming I should also remove direct reference to Advaita Vedanta since Halbfass seems to be talking about older Vedantic schools as well?):


In his discussion of inclusivism, Halbfass points to the discursive tendency of traditional sectarian Indian thought to develop doxographies in which ‘others' are neutralized through inclusion and subordination. In this, he divides the strategy of inclusivism into two major types, based on images developed within the Indic tradition. The two images are: (1) that of the elephant's footstep, which includes through exceeding the footsteps of other animals, covering larger terrain than any of them individually and erasing or obliterating them in the process; (2) that of the ocean into which rivers merge, discharging their waters and losing their names, but remaining preserved in essence and substance. Halbfass characterizes these strategies as hierarchism and perspectivism respectively, and sees examples of the first in ... Vedanta and the second in Jaina doxographies.


Alternatively, I could use this from Halbfass (but it is lengthier and bulkier, even with the following editing):


In addition to the "vertical," hierarchical model of inclusivism [associated with Vedanta and Madhyamaka], there is also a "horizontal" model, which is typified by the Jaina doxographies.  The Jainas present their own system not as the transcending culmination of lower stages of truth, but as the complete and comprehensive context, the full panorama which comprises other doctrines as partial truths or limited perspectives...  The subordination of other views to the Vedantic idea of brahman or the Madhyamaka viewpoint of "emptiness" (sunyata) postulates an ascent which is at the same time a discarding and transcendence of doctrinal distinctions; the inclusion and neutralization of other views is not a subordinating identification of specific foreign concepts with specific aspects of one's own system, but an attempt to supersede and transcend specific concepts and conceptual and doctrinal dichotomies in general.  The Jaina perspectivism, on the other hand, represents a horizontally coordinating inclusivism which recognizes other views as parts and aspects of its own totality...  Among the familiar inclusivistic images, we find the metaphor of the many rivers which are united in the one ocean, and that of the footprints of the elephant which obliterate the footprints of all other animals.  Adopting a formula which the Mahabharata had used to glorify the ethics of ahimsa, several Tantric texts declare that the various religious traditions are contained and disappear in the Tantric tradition, specifically in the kauladharma, in the same manner in which the footprints of other creatures disappear in those of the elephant.  Vijnanabhiksu, the leading representative of the revival of classical Samkhya and Yoga in the sixteenth century, states that the other systems are contained in the Yoga of Patanjali and Vyasa just as rivers are preserved and absorbed by the ocean.  Both metaphors illustrate the idea of inclusion, but with a significant difference.  The ocean extinguishes the individuality of the rivers, but it also preserves them and needs them for its own fullness.  The footprints of the elephant simply obliterate the other footprints...

Reply to Discussion

RSS

What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2020   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service