Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – II



Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – II

by Debashish Banerji

To continue with our reflections on the regime of technology or what I have called the universal desiring machine of techno-capital (Techo-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies I), let us dwell for a moment also on the “traditional” understanding of Marx, one which Postone is at pains to distinguish himself from, since this version also meshes in its own way with the goals of the Enlightenment and may debatably show itself to be be identical with the techno-utopia of Hegel/Teilhard/McLuhan, and pushing in its own ingenuity, the self-same mythology with the same structural order of frozen time (teleology).

Among Marx’s own internal narratives, this could very well be one of his spectral alternates, since Hegel was more than an influence in his thinking. The “traditional” version then is that products are produced by concrete labor and “originally” for their concrete and (subjectively) specific use-value(s) in the self-consumptions of communities. But the process of marketization is one of the necessary birth of history, of the journey of capital as abstract use value of commodity translating labor now also abstracted for the universalization/globalization of human exchange. This process of the materialization and terrestrialization of human labor is mediated for competitive self-advantage by a “middle” class, the bourgeois, a mediation that accumulates capital privately and fuels the processes of the production and consumption of unbounded increasing surplus – the exploitation of labor and of nature, the production of technology, the production of knowledge and the production of desire. But the internal contradiction in this system between the use and abstract value of the product and the subjective concreteness and objectified abstraction of labor (these two sets of contradictions mapping into one another as necessary translations, since it is labor which translates into the value of  product) drives the dialectic of inexorable necessity towards the “justice” of pure unmediated translations, a global order which achieves the end of history in the completed identity of abstract/concrete exchange/use producer/consumer as the self-representation  of collective humanity in the form of the international union of labor through the political organ of the World State.

The traditional view of Marxist revolution is that of human intervention in accelerating the inherent rationalization of this process by the overcoming of the mediation of the bourgeois and his competitive privatization of capital through a collective organization of the proletariat and its direct ownership of the means of production and the products and control over their consumption, distribution and exchange through nation-states and eventually, the world-state. The mythology of this narrative should not be lost on us. This is the Sacrifice of the originary Unified Body of collective Man in the Symbol, pure communities of the Symbolic Age of humanity, Satya Yuga, consuming their own production, but now driven to the reconstitution of the dis-membered body through acts of exchange, leading logically (since the hidden Subject of this leading is the Logos, who makes Himself visible only through His adjectival quality, logic) to the terrestrialization of Universal Value (which is Universal Justice) in the reintegrated Body-Politic of International Labor as the unmediated self-determining producers/consumers of their own labor/produce of use/exchange (each of these opposition-pairs being now realized identities in consciousness). Marxists, of course, will shudder at this mythologization, since they will say it is exactly the Geist, Spirit of Hegel which Marx rejected in materializing his dialectic in the collective human body and its material processes of  production and consumption, with the proletariat as its real Subject. But be that as it may, why the process of history should take this logical form, of a loss of “innocence” through private selfishness and the transformation of individual selfishness to universal justice and finally of the revelation in universal justice of Universal Love, were it not for the immanence of the Logos, the Word of God made flesh hidden in the heart of human history, whatever may be its manifest actors and their motivated/material acts, is difficult to comprehend. The subsumption of the Chrisian mythos in the Hegelian vision of the Enlightenment undergoes a second level of secularization in the “traditional” narrative of Marx, but cannot divorce itself from the source of its necessity in its Origin.

Where Postone questions this version is in the centrality of its “original sin,” since this will determine also the totality of its apotheosis in the “end of history.” According to Postone, for the later Marx this is not an act of selfishness but one of self-alienation. The decision to produce not for self-consumption but for exchange produces not merely the mediation of economic and more fundamentally, social relations (the transformation of the habitus) by the layer of the “middle class” but by another layer of immanent mediation, which becomes more and more manifest through the historic process as the “true subject” and beneficiary of this history – the layer of alienation itself materializing and universalizing itself as Technology – Technology as Logos or Logos as Technology, which no revolution of the proletariat or overcoming of the bourgeois can displace, produced out of the dismembered body of the sacrifice of collective Unity in the Symbolic Age of Innocence, the shining Bio-Robotic Cow of Universal Plenty, its mechanical udders vibrating with the fatal fascination of alterity, cannibalizing its producers into its own alienated Substance. Marx’s mature view of the “end of history” then for Postone is not the apotheosis of labor and the utopia of Universal Love but the totalitarianism of Technology as the regime of alienation, his revolution not a revolution of the proletariat against the bourgeois but an immanent revolution of human production and consumption against technicity, the technologized consciousness-structures of the alienated social habitus, of commodified social relations. In this version, Marx visioned Hegelian Universal Enlightenment as a mistake and his own narrative is a historical explanation and critique of Hegel. In this view, Hegel mistook a non-human Universal Spirit (Geist) as the progressively materializing and rationalizing Subject of History because he himself was embedded within the structural temporality of modernity, which was already marked by its endemic alienation. This ojectified alienation, rationalizing itself materially as Technology is what Hegel mistook as Spirit.

But granted that this is a possibility, can Hegel/Teilhard/McLuhan be dismissed so easily? Can the Enlightenment and the fascination of its mythos be  negativized unequivocally? After all, the Aurobindonian narrative sounds surprisingly similar to some ears as the Hegelian one; many there are who read the regime of globalization as the materialization of the Brahman, even of that specially mystifying Aurobindonian term, the Supermind. And Postone’s Marx and his attribution of self-alienation at the “origin” of modern history – how does this history realize itself universally – I mean how did it even get this far, what processes of chance or necessity or combination of the two took local phenomena of exchange and turned it into the globalizing world-market, whose ontology (hauntology, as Derrida will tell us in his Specters of Marx) is technicity? Was it perhaps the Hegelian Zeitgeist, Time-Spirit, the Heideggerean disclosure of Being in the horizon of modern Time, the Foucauldian inexplicable epistemic change? And what does it portend for the future destiny of the human at the end of its history? Or can its history be aborted and transformed through immanent revolution, as Postone suggests (but never makes practically concrete) in his text?

What are the dimensions of the Enlightenment narrative and where does Sri Aurobindo fit into it or where does it fit into Sri Aurobindo, if we are to be more audacious or is there a radical misfit between the two? Where is the inadequacy in “Catholicism” which Arthur Kroker invokes to explain McLuhan’s failure or is it some other kind of inadequacy, in the heart of the Enlightenment ideal and that of its proponents who see subsumed and hidden in it the track or trace, footsteps of the Holy Spirit of archaic ages?

What indeed, is the Enlightenment ideal and where do we stand in its realization today? Put simply, the onto-theological ideal of the Enlightenment is the universalization of Divine Reason, the Rationality or Intelligence of the Universe as the common property of Humanity on earth – not the property of any one person but of Humanity as a whole, for its access and use. Enlightenment brings liberation, this was the belief, and a universalized Enlightenment will bring universal liberation through the terrestrialization of the properties of Divinity (or as Divine Reason equated with Divinity) being accessible to all humans. The prime properties of such a realized divinity would be the Omnisicience, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of the Divine Reason within unversal access. Today, the virtual universalization of satellite technology, telecommunications and intercontinental travel have effectively non-localized our experience of the world, we can almost be “present” at any point on the earth at any time. Is this not Omnipresence? The proliferation of electronic archives and incredible information density of storage systems are making all the history of textual and multimedia expression and discursivity of the earth available to the access of all human beings at the push of a button. Is this not Omniscience? And Technology today makes it possible to give life and take life universally – we are on the verge of being able to overcome every natural deterrent to food production and to regenerate human organs and we can blow out the world at the push of a button. Is this not Omnipotence? So where did we go wrong or did we? And is there anything else that Sri Aurobindo can give us here – or is this indeed also the Aurobindonian mythos, the terrestrialization and universalization of Supermind as the Vedic Cow of Human Plenty?

These are questions worth reflecting on and bringing into alignment with the Neo-Vedantic teleology (if it can be called that) of Sri Aurobindo.

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9 thoughts on “Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies – II

  1. Anonymous says:

    From deep in the heart of Texas, here are some preliminary thoughts on your extremely enlightening and probing essay. Regards the questions you raise on omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience, what light can the following insights of Sri Aurobindo shed?
    “The dharma of science thought and philosophy is to seek for truth by the intellect dispassionately, without prepossession and prejudgment, with no other first propositions than the law of thought and observation itself imposes. Science and philosophy are not bound to square their observations and conclusions with any current ideas of religious dogma or ethical rule or aesthetic prejudices. In the end if left free in their action, they will find the unity of Truth with Good and Beauty and give these a greater meaning than any dogmatic religion or any formal ethics or narrower aesthetic idea can give us.” Sri Aurobindo (Human Cycle p214)
    “”Consciousness itself by its mutation will necessitate and operate whatever mutation is needed for the body. It has to be noted that the human mind has already shown the capacity to aid nature in the evolution of new types of plant and animal; it has created new forms of its environment, developed by knowledge and disciplined considerable changes in its own mentality. It is not an impossibility that “man should aid nature consciously also in his own spiritual and physical evolution and transformation” -my emphasis- The urge to do it is already there and partly effective though still incompletely understood and accepted by the surface mentality; but one day it may understand go deeper within itself and discover the means, the secret energy, the intended operation of Consciousness-Force within which is the hidden reality we call Nature ( LD 1949 p843/ 844)”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The 2 quotes you have provided are both very interesting and must be seen in context. The first one, from The Human Cycle, is from the chapter “The Spiritual Aim and Life” and is seeing Science and Philosophy as aspects of the seeking for truth by the intellect, which need to be granted independence to seek in their own manner; but the context of this seeking is a transformation of the aim of life to a spiritual aim. The meanings and goals of Science as of the intellect need then to be understood in the light of this transformed life-aim. A paragraph from the previous page is a most eloquent elucidation of this change of aim and its consequent operational transformations:
    “The true and full spiritual aim in society will regard man not as a mind, a life and a body, but as a soul incarnated for a divine fulfillment upon earth, not only in heavens beyond, which after it need not have left if it had no divine business here in the world of physical, vital and mental nature. It will therefore regard the life, mind and body neither as ends in themselves, sufficient for their own satisfaction, nor as mortal members full of disease which have only to be dropped off for the rescued spirit to flee away into its own pure regions, but as first instruments
    of the soul, the yet imperfect instruments of an unseized diviner purpose. It will believe in their destiny and help them to believe in themselves, but for that very reason in their highest and not only in their lowest or lower possibilities. Their destiny will be in its view, to spiritualise themselves so as to grow into visible members of the spirit, lucid means of its manifestation, themselves spiritual, illumined, more and more conscious and perfect. For, accepting the truth of man's soul as a thing entirely divine in
    its essence, it will accept also the possibility of his whole being becoming divine in spite of Nature's first patent contradictions of this possibility, her darkened denials of this ultimate certitude, and even with these as a necessary earthly starting-point. …”
    (The Human Cycle, 1977, pp. 212-13).
    One can see here that neither Science nor its instrument, intellect are to remain what they are, but both become evolutionary instruments of spiritual knowledge. This takes us eventually to a different understanding of “intellect” as an instrument of Spirit rather than of Mind, related to the transformation of “sense” into its supramental origin as quoted by RYD in a recent comment. Where the supramental origin of “sense” is the samjnana, a similar transformed origin of “intellect” as a modality of knowledge by identity which objectivizes its operation for dualistic enjoyment is explained by Sri Aurobindo as the prajnana.
    Re. the second quote (from The Life Divine), note that here also a progress from intellect or reason to pure action of Consciousness in determining human evolution is implied. It is as if from the very beginning this Consciousness-Force, chit-shakti, “which is the hidden reality we call Nature” individualizes itself through a subsidiary action in human reason and interferes more “consciously” in the evolutionary process. But to find the means for a true evolution, a change of consciousness, humanity needs to discover and identify in being and power with this Consciousness-Force, its subsidiary action as “mentality” is not sufficient for that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I will be brief. We have a series: physical instruments of observation in the scientific sense, such as microscopes, telescopes, modern accelrators; physical organs of contact, eye-ear-taste-smell-touch; behind them manas, mind as the true sense; finally sense in its purity sajnana that exists behind and beyond mind.
    Kena Upanishad speaks of a Sight behind our sight and a Hearing behind our hearing, not in general terms of a Sense behind our sense. It starts with a series of questions and straightaway asserts a few things:
    1. By whom missioned falls the mind shot to its mark? By whom yoked moves the first life-breath forward on its paths? By whom impelled is this word that men speak? What god set eye and ear to their workings?
    2. That which is hearing of our hearing, mind of our mind, speech of our speech, that too is life of our life-breath and sight of our sight. The wise are released beyond and they pass from this world and become immortal.
    3. There sight travels not, nor speech, nor the mind. We know It not nor can distinguish how one should teach of It: for It is other than the known; It is there above the unknown. It is so we have heard from men of old who declared That to our understanding.
    4. That which is unexpressed by the word, that by which the word is expressed, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.
    5. That which thinks not by the mind, that by which the mind is thought, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.
    6. That which sees not with the eye, that by which one sees the eye's seeings, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.
    7. That which hears not with the ear, that by which the ear's hearing is heard, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.
    8. That which breathes not with the breath, that by which the life-breath is led forward in its paths, know That to be the Brahman and not this which men follow after here.
    Sri Aurobindo’s commentary in chapter IX (pp. 148-55) is reproduced in the following:
    Mind was called by Indian psychologists the eleventh and ranks as the supreme sense. In the ancient arrangement of the senses, five of knowledge and five of action, it was the sixth of the organs of knowledge and at the same time the sixth of the organs of action. It is a commonplace of psychology that the effective functioning of the senses of knowledge is inoperative without the assistance of the mind; the eye may see, the ear may hear, all the senses may act, but if the mind pays no attention, the man has not heard, seen, felt, touched or tasted. Similarly, according to psychology, the organs of action act only by the force of the mind operating as will or, physiologically, by the reactive nervous force from the brain which must be according to materialistic notions the true self and essence of all will. In any case, the senses or all senses, if there are other than the ten,—according to a text in the Upanishad there should be at least fourteen, seven and seven,—all senses appear to be only organisations, functionings, instrumentations of the mind-consciousness, devices which it has formed in the course of its evolution in living Matter.
    Modern psychology has extended our knowledge and has admitted us to a truth which the ancients already knew but expressed in other language. We know now or we rediscover the truth that the conscious operation of mind is only a surface action. There is a much vaster and more potent subconscious mind which loses nothing of what the senses bring to it; it keeps all its wealth in an inexhaustible store of memory, akshitam shravah. The surface mind may pay no attention, still the subconscious mind attends, receives, treasures up with an infallible accuracy. The illiterate servant-girl hears daily her master reciting Hebrew in his study; the surface mind pays no attention to the unintelligible gibberish, but the subconscious mind hears, remembers and, when in an abnormal condition it comes up to the surface, reproduces those learned recitations with a portentous accuracy which the most correct and retentive scholar might envy. The man or mind has not heard because he did not attend; the greater man or mind within has heard because he always attends, or rather sub-tends, with an infinite capacity. So too a man put under an anaesthetic and operated upon has felt nothing; but release his subconscious mind by hypnosis and he will relate accurately every detail of the operation and its appropriate sufferings; for the stupor of the physical sense-organ could not prevent the larger mind within from observing and feeling.
    Similarly we know that a large part of our physical action is instinctive and directed not by the surface but by the subconscious mind. And we know now that it is a mind that acts and not merely an ignorant nervous reaction from the brute physical brain. The subconscious mind in the catering insect knows the anatomy of the victim it intends to immobilise and make food for its young and it directs the sting accordingly, as unerringly as the most skilful surgeon, provided the mere limited surface mind with its groping and faltering nervous action does not get in the way and falsify the inner knowledge or the inner will-force. These examples point us to truths which western psychology, hampered by past ignorance posing as scientific orthodoxy, still ignores or refuses to acknowledge. The Upanishads declare that the Mind in us is infinite; it knows not only what has been seen but what has not been seen, not only what has been heard but what has not been heard, not only what has been discriminated by the thought but what has not been discriminated by the thought. Let us say, then, in the tongue of our modern knowledge that the surface man in us is limited by his physical experiences; he knows only what his nervous life in the body brings to his embodied mind; and even of those bringings he knows, he can retain and utilise only so much as his surface mind-sense attends to and consciously remembers; but there is a larger subliminal consciousness within him which is not thus limited. That consciousness senses what has not been sensed by the surface mind and its organs and knows what the surface mind has not learned by its acquisitive thought. That in the insect knows the anatomy of its victim; that in the man outwardly insensible not only feels and remembers the action of the surgeon's knife, but knows the appropriate reactions of suffering which were in the physical body inhibited by the anaesthetic and therefore non-existent; that in the illiterate servant-girl heard and retained accurately the words of an unknown language and could, as Yogic experience knows, by a higher action of itself understand those superficially unintelligible sounds.
    To return to the Vedantic words we have been using, there is a vaster action of the Sanjnana which is not limited by the action of the physical sense-organs; it was this which sensed perfectly and made its own through the ear the words of the unknown language, through the touch the movements of the unfelt surgeon's knife, through the sense-mind or sixth sense the exact location of the centres of locomotion in the victim insect. There is also associated with it a corresponding vaster action of Prajnana, Ajnana and Vijnana not limited by the smaller apprehensive and comprehensive faculties of the external mind. It is this vaster Prajnana which perceived the proper relation of the words to each other, of the movement of the knife to the unfelt suffering of the nerves and of the successive relation in space of the articulations in the insect's body. Such perception was inherent in the right reproduction of the words, the right narration of the sufferings, the right successive action of the sting. The Ajnana or Knowledge-Will originating all these actions was also vaster, not limited by the faltering force that governs the operations directed by the surface mind. And although in these examples the action of the vaster Vijnana is not so apparent, yet it was evidently there working through them and ensuring their co-ordination.
    But at present it is with the Sanjnana that we are concerned. Here we should note, first of all, that there is an action of the sense-mind which is superior to the particular action of the senses and is aware of things even without imaging them in forms of sight, sound, contact, but which also as a sort of subordinate operation, subordinate but necessary to completeness of presentation, does image in these forms. This is evident in psychical phenomena. Those who have carried the study and experimentation of them to a certain extent, have found that we can sense things known only to the minds of others, things that exist only at a great distance, things that belong to another plane than the terrestrial but have here their effects; we can both sense them in their images and also feel, as it were, all that they are without any definite image proper to the five senses.
    This shows, in the first place, that sight and the other senses are not mere results of the development of our physical organs in the terrestrial evolution. Mind, subconscious in all Matter and evolving in Matter, has developed these physical organs in order to apply its inherent capacities of sight, hearing etc., on the physical plane by physical means for a physical life; but they are inherent capacities and not dependent on the circumstance of terrestrial evolution and they can be employed without the use of the physical eye, ear, skin, palate. Supposing that there are psychical senses which act through a psychical body, and we thus explain these psychical phenomena, still that action also is only an organisation of the inherent functioning of the essential sense, the Sanjnana, which in itself can operate without bodily organs. This essential sense is the original capacity of consciousness to feel in itself all that consciousness has formed and to feel it in all the essential properties and operations of that which has form, whether represented materially by vibration of sound or images of light or any other physical symbol.
    The trend of knowledge leads more and more to the conclusion that not only are the properties of form, even the most obvious such as colour, light etc., merely operations of Force, but form itself is only an operation of Force. This Force again proves to be self-power of conscious-being in a state of energy and activity. Practically, therefore, all form is only an operation of consciousness impressing itself with presentations of its own workings. We see colour because that is the presentation which consciousness makes to itself of one of its own operations; but colour is only an operation of Force working in the form of Light, and Light again is only a movement, that is to say an operation of Force. The question is what is essential to this operation of Force taking on itself the presentation of form? For it is this that must determine the working of Sanjnana or Sense on whatever plane it may operate.
    Everything begins with vibration or movement, the original kshobha or disturbance. If there is no movement of the conscious being, it can only know its own pure static existence. Without vibration or movement of being in consciousness there can be no act of knowledge and therefore no sense; without vibration or movement of being in force there can be no object of sense. Movement of conscious being as knowledge becoming sensible of itself as movement of force, in other words the knowledge separating itself from its own working to watch that and take it into itself again by feeling,—this is the basis of universal Sanjnana. This is true both of our internal and external operations. I become anger by a vibration of conscious force acting as nervous emotion and I feel the anger that I have become by another movement of conscious force acting as light of knowledge. I am conscious of my body because I have myself become the body; that same force of conscious being which has made this form of itself, this presentation of its workings knows it in that form, in that presentation. I can know nothing except what I myself am; if I know others, it is because they also are myself, because my self has assumed these apparently alien presentations as well as that which is nearest to my own mental centre.
    All sensation, all action of sense is thus the same in essence whether external or internal, physical or psychical. But this vibration of conscious being is presented to itself by various forms of sense which answer to the successive operations of movement in its assumption of form. For first we have intensity of vibration creating regular rhythm which is the basis or constituent of all creative formation; secondly, contact or intermiscence of the movements of conscious being which constitute the rhythm; thirdly, definition of the grouping of movements which are in contact, their shape; fourthly, the constant welling up of the essential force to support in its continuity the movement that has been thus defined; fifthly, the actual enforcement and compression of the force in its own movement which maintains the form that has been assumed. In Matter these five constituent operations are said by the Sankhyas to represent themselves as five elemental conditions of substance, the etheric, atmospheric, igneous, liquid and solid; and the rhythm of vibration is seen by them as shabda, sound, the basis of hearing, the intermiscence as contact, the basis of touch, the definition as shape, the basis of sight, the upflow of force as rasa, sap, the basis of taste, and the discharge of the atomic compression as gandha, odour, the basis of smell. It is true that this is only predicated of pure or subtle Matter; the physical matter of our world being a mixed operation of force, these five elemental states are not found there separately except in a very modified form. But all these are only the physical workings or symbols. Essentially all formation, to the most subtle and most beyond our senses such as form of mind, form of character, form of soul, amount when scrutinised to this fivefold operation of conscious-force in movement.
    All these operations, then, the Sanjnana or essential sense must be able to seize, to make its own by that union in knowledge of knower and object which is peculiar to itself. Its sense of the rhythm or intensity of the vibrations which contain in themselves all the meaning of the form, will be the basis of the essential hearing of which our apprehension of physical sound or the spoken word is only the most outward result; so also its sense of the contact or intermiscence of conscious force with conscious force must be the basis of the essential touch; its sense of the definition or form of force must be the basis of the essential sight; its sense of the upflow of essential being in the form, that which is the secret of its self-delight, must be the basis of the essential taste; its sense of the compression of force and the self-discharge of its essence of being must be the basis of the essential inhalation grossly represented in physical substance by the sense of smell. On whatever plane, to whatever kind of formation these essentialities of sense will apply themselves and on each they will seek an appropriate organisation, an appropriate functioning.
    This various sense will, it is obvious, be in the highest consciousness a complex unity, just as we have seen that there the various operation of knowledge is also a complex unity. Even if we examine the physical senses, say, the sense of hearing, if we observe how the underlying mind receives their action, we shall see that in their essence all the senses are in each other. That mind is not only aware of the vibration which we call sound; it is aware also of the contact and interchange between the force in the sound and the nervous force in us with which that intermixes; it is aware of the definition or form of the sound and of the complex contacts or relations which make up the form; it is aware of the essence or outwelling conscious force which constitutes and maintains the sound and prolongs its vibrations in our nervous being; it is aware of our own nervous inhalation of the vibratory discharge proceeding from the compression of force which makes, so to speak, the solidity of the sound. All these sensations enter into the sensitive reception and joy of music which is the highest physical form of this operation of force,—they constitute our physical sensitiveness to it and the joy of our nervous being in it; diminish one of them and the joy and the sensitiveness are to that extent dulled. Much more must there be this complex unity in a higher than the physical consciousness and most of all must there be unity in the highest. But the essential sense must be capable also of seizing the secret essence of all conscious being in action, in itself and not only through the results of the operation; its appreciation of these results can be nothing more than itself an outcome of this deeper sense which it has of the essence of the Thing behind its appearances.
    If we consider these things thus subtly in the light of our own deeper psychology and pursue them beyond the physical appearances by which they are covered, we shall get to some intellectual conception of the sense behind our senses or rather the Sense of our senses, the Sight of our sight and the Hearing of our hearing. The Brahman-consciousness of which the Upanishad speaks is not the Absolute withdrawn into itself, but that Absolute in its outlook on the relative; it is the Lord, the Master-Soul, the governing Transcendent and All, He who constitutes and controls the action of the gods on the different planes of our being.
    Since it constitutes them, all our workings can be no more than psychical and physical results and representations of something essential proper to its supreme creative outlook, our sense a shadow of the divine Sense, our sight of the divine Sight, our hearing of the divine Hearing. Nor is that divine Sight and Hearing limited to things physical, but extend themselves to all forms and operations of conscious being.
    The supreme Consciousness does not depend on what we call sight and hearing for its own essential seeing and audition. It operates by a supreme Sense, creative and comprehensive, of which our physical and psychical sight and hearing are external results and partial operations. Neither is it ignorant of these, nor excludes them; for since it constitutes and controls, it must be aware of them but from a supreme plane, param dhama, which includes all in its view; for its original action is that highest movement of Vishnu which, the Veda tells us, the seers behold like an eye extended in heaven. It is that by which the soul sees its seeings and hears its hearings; but all sense only assumes its true value and attains to its absolute, its immortal reality when we cease to pursue the satisfactions of the mere external and physical senses and go beyond even the psychical being to this spiritual or essential which is the source and fountain, the knower,
    constituent and true valuer of all the rest.
    This spiritual sense of things, secret and superconscient in us, alone gives their being, worth and reality to the psychical and physical sense; in themselves they have none. When we attain to it, these inferior operations are as it were taken up into it and the whole world and everything in it changes to us and takes on a different and a non-material value. That Master-consciousness in us senses our sensations of objects, sees our seeings, hears our hearings no longer for the benefit of the senses and their desires, but with the embrace of the self-existent Bliss which has no cause, beginning or end, eternal in its own immortality.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Vladimir has done an excellent study on the topic. May I request him to participate in the discussion? Thanks

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the luminous quote on Samjnana from Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of the Kena Upanishad and of course, Vladimir's contribution will be most welcome. May I suggest that you consolidate your two postings on Samjnana along with Vladimir's study and post this as a joint article on “Sense-Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies” (or as two separate articles – I and II)? I am copying this comment also under “Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies I”, where you started the explication on Samjnana.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dear Deshpande,
    I am glad that you brought this powerful quotation of Sri Aurobindo into the discussion. These words, as I think, will constitute in the future the foundation of a Greater Psychology.
    Thank you for inviting me to this discussion.
    According to the Vedic epistemology, all knowledge comes from within towards the without and from above. It manifests or creates something which was not yet known down there. The without is needed as a field of application or the ground for manifestation of something which is potently inherent in it but does not have enough light to see what it is. So, the supreme sense, the Purusha, the Conscious Soul, by sacrificing himself, kindles the light of knowledge within the fallen creation, forcing “the world's blind immensity to sight”, helping the fallen self to know itself again as the Supreme.
    The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak
    From the reclining body of a god.

  7. Anonymous says:

    These studies of consciousness belong to the adhyatmic education of the future.
    If we systematize these four (samjnana, prajnana, vijnana, ajnana) we can clearly see that there are two apprehensive and two comprehensive operations of power (self) and knowledge (consciousness); projecting the very nature of the supreme consciousness-power, cit-tapas.
    The first two are apprehensive operations (of separative knowledge): samjnana and prajnana, the possession of an image of things in substance as feeling, and the possession of it in its energy as knowing.
    The next two are comprehensive operations (of knowledge by identity): vijnana and ajnana, holding an image of things in its essence, totality and properties as knowing, and holding an image of things as governing and possessing it in power.
    Samjnana, the sense of an object in its image; inbringing movement of apprehensive consciousness… as to possess it in conscious substance, to feel it. (to be it, to have an experience of it, to be directly identified with it in the Self).
    Prajnana, the apprehension of it in knowledge follows; the outgoing of apprehensive consciousness (of Knowledge) to possess its object in conscious energy, to know it; ( to understand it , to see it, to be aware of it in ones Consciousness)
    Vijnana, the comprehension of it in knowledge; holds an image of things at once in its essence, its totality and its parts and properties; (to be one Consciousness with it);
    Ajnana, the possession of it in power; it dwells on an image of things so as to hold, govern and possess it in power; (to be one Self with it).
    There is an interesting explanation given by Sri Aurobindo about these four operations within the Supramental Consciousness (The Upanishads, p. 146):
    “If we suppose a supreme consciousness, master of the world, which really conducts behind the veil all the operations the mental gods attribute to themselves,
    it will be obvious that that consciousness will be the entire Knower and Lord. The basis of its action or government of the world will be the perfect, original and all-possessing vijnana and ajnana. It will comprehend all things in its energy of conscious knowledge, control all things in its energy of conscious power. These energies will be the spontaneous inherent action of its conscious being creative and possessive of the forms of the universe.
    What part then will be left for the apprehensive consciousness and the sense? They will be not independent functions, but subordinate operations involved in the action of the comprehensive consciousness itself. In fact, all four there will be one rapid movement. If we had all these four acting in us with the unified rapidity with which the prajnana and sanjnana act, we should then have in our notation of Time some inadequate image of the unity of the supreme action of the supreme energy.
    The supreme consciousness must not only comprehend and possess in its conscious being the images of things which it creates as its self-expression, but it must place them before it—always in its own being, not externally—and have a certain relation with them by the two terms of apprehensive consciousness. Otherwise the universe would not take the form that it has for us; for we only reflect in the terms of our organisation the movements of the supreme Energy. But by the very fact that the images of things are there held in front of an apprehending consciousness within the comprehending conscious being and not externalised as our individual mind externalises them, the supreme Mind and supreme Sense will be something quite different from our mentality and our forms of sensation. They will be terms of an entire knowledge and self-possession and not terms of an ignorance and limitation which strives to know and possess.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    This comment has now been made a part of a separate article,
    Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies. If interested, please view this article and continue the dialog there. – Editor

  9. Anonymous says:

    This comment has now been made a part of a separate article,
    Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies. If interested, please view this article and continue the dialog there. – Editor

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