Monday, 14 October 2019

Sir Roger Scruton FBA, Conservative and Heretic

The faggots are piled around the feet of the heretic and the executioner is about to apply the torch when a messenger rides up. The Grand Inquisitor shrugs as he reads the missive whose red wax captured ribbon flutters like a tiny premonitory flame. He gruffly commands:

- Stay your hand, release him. Roger of Scruton Hall, there has been a change of plan. You are to be raised a knight of the realm and a member of the British Academy. Wealth will be yours and fame. Depart from here, unshriven and recalcitrant.

You would have thought that heresy was a dwindling trade but Sir Roger Scruton FBA has made a go of it. He started early at the age of 24 when in Paris in ‘68 as an onlooker of the student riots. ‘Twerps’. He has not deviated from that judgment since then.

In 1980 he published his book The Meaning of Conservatism and in 2015 Confessions of a Heretic a collection of essays. So what, the young fogy has become an old fogy even if he’s right and he is . Conservatism is as various as the societies in which it is rooted. Because of this when Scruton talks out of the American side of his mouth he utters things which would shock the English cultivar. The generalisations which would assimilate both, miss the point and Scruton is correct when he holds that Conservatism is not discursive but a pre-emptive feeling of distrust of novelty and downright disgust with murderous utopian social engineering schemes.

Here he is on Environmentalism:

Environmentalism has all the hall-marks of a left-wing cause: a class of victims (future generations), an enlightened vanguard who fights for them (the eco-warriors), powerful philistines who exploit them (the capitalists), and endless opportunities to express resentment against the successful, the wealthy and the West. The style too is leftist: the environmentalist is young, dishevelled, socially disreputable, his mind focused on higher things; the opponent is dull, middle aged, smartly dressed and usually American. The cause is designed to recruit the intellectuals, with facts and theories carelessly bandied about, and activism encouraged.
(from Confessions of a Heretic)

That seems to this reader to be reactive malignant Batesonian symmetrical thinking. He corrects towards the complementary after this salute to his constituency and he displays the fairness which is a strength of Conservatism.

However, the cause of the environment is not, in itself, a left-wing cause at all. It is not about ‘liberating’ or empowering the victim, but about safeguarding resources. It is not about ‘progress’ or ‘equality’ but about conservation and equilibrium. Its following may be young and dishevelled; but that is largely because people in suits have failed to realise where their real interests, and their real values, lie. Environmentalists may seem opposed to capitalism, but – if they understood matters correctly – they would be far more opposed to socialism, with its gargantuan, uncorrectable and state-controlled projects, than to the ethos of free enterprise. Indeed, environmentalism is the quintessential conservative cause, the most vivid instance in the world as we know it, of that partnership between the dead, the living and the unborn, which Burke defended as the conservative archetype.

‘Free enterprise’ - the American side of his mouth and with its insinuation of untrammelled, a proven error. I ask myself about Thunbergian doom – Have we been here before? Do you remember the Y2K bug that was to bring massive disruption and queues at the border. Or am I thinking of Brexit? Nothing happened very quickly then and now what? Let’s be prudent. Go green with nuclear power stations and less meat eating and please knock those useless wind farms that deface the land.

Both books are worth reading.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Sri Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati on Sri Harsha

Was Sri Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati (Sri SSS) correct when he said that Sri Harsha did not understand the true method of vedanta?(Chap.14:285) Next two question arising from that is (a) what is the true method of vedanta and (b) how did he fail to understand it?

In Chap.3:20 of his Method of Vedanta Sri SSS expresses it thusly:
The Method of False Attribution followed by Retraction underlies other forms of Vedanta Teaching (Adhyaropa/Apavada). It is found throughout the Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutras.

What Sri Harsha fails to understand is that the search for truth through dialogue which brings clarification is not served by the stultification of your interlocutors. Even honest error has a perspective which can be corrected. It may even bring focus to an issue by displaying a characteristic misstep. Inquiry has many landing points which are partial and false. They are surpassed by a new vision. This is the process known as sublation.

In fact we are all wrong and ‘nobody knows anything’.

There is one false attribution that is the root cause of all others. It is due to its presence that the other erroneous ideas come into being and work mischief during the time of their existence. So the Upanishads single out this error and call it metaphysical ignorance (avidya). And the knowledge whereby one establishes the true nature of metaphysical reality through negating that error is called enlightenment (vidya).

Note: adhiropa is the transliteration that I first came across. adhyaropa is now more usual so I will use that in future and it ties in with adhyasa - superimposition

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Yellow Vests abú (forever)

veist bui(yellow vest)

Well it’s settled. The leasee of the hotel that was going to be presented as a direct provision centre for asylum seekers has withdrawn his contract submission and the project is now scrapped. After trying to tag the protestors with the racist label the minister advised them to ‘step back’. Now they are doing the step back boogie.

They wrought it very cleverly keeping the overt racists quite and allowing those that are against direct provision on humanitarian grounds to seem to be central to the protest. What then was the main unspoken objection to the centre as well as the entirely justified resentment at having your village population increased by 20% without any enhancement of infrastructure and without consultation as a fait accompli. The general sentiment in the country at large is that asylum seekers are for the most part economic migrants without any real claim to refugee status. They can’t even be bothered to make up a good story because they rely on administrative delay to prolong the process and then they will have to be allowed to stay.

At a subconscious level too is the memory of the tragedy of emigration from Ireland. We know that it is not a good thing when the young leave in droves. It should not be encouraged. As well as that the economic migrants are often from the better off segment of their societies who can afford to pay the smugglers large sums of money for their transportation. Why should they be favoured over genuine impoverished refugees that languish in camps? The Norway solution of quick decision on status followed by deportation in the case of rejection seems to be working for them. There direct provision centres are closing down not opening. Here in Ireland there has been a 26% increase in asylum applications this year over that of the whole of last year. Céad míle fáilte!

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Sri Harsha: The Reader over your Shoulder

If the reader over your shoulder is a type of Sri Harsha (12th.C). be very afraid because you are going to be found out. I would defend the right of Sri Harsha to controvert everything and offer no positive teaching of his own unless you regard what he impugned as an limning by way of negative space. His positive thesis may be in a book now lost. In the particular book that I am referring to, the Khandana Khanda the scrutiny of his eagle eye has lit on the Nyaya school often referred to as 'the logicians'. Their programme as stated by Ganganath Jha in his introduction to the translation of the work - KhKh

The things, or categories, whose correct knowledge leads to the attainment of the highest aim of human existence, are (according to the Nyaya), the following sixteen—The Instruments of Right Cognition, the Objects of Right Cognition, Doubt, Motive, Example, Doctrine, Factors of Inference, Hypothetical Reasoning, Demonstrated Truth,. Discussion, Disputation, Wrangling, Fallacious Reason, Perversion, Casuistry and Clinchers. (Gautama’s Sutra 1-1-1). The most important among these are the Instruments of Cognition*and the Objects of Cognition; all the rest are of subordinate importance, being aids to the Instruments-of Cognition.

One of the points at issue is whether it is necessary for fruitful dialogue that both parties should admit the existence of the valid means of knowledge ie. the pramanas. That may not be necessary for in fact for without that, incoherence, inconsistency and self-contradiction could be found in the definitions of the opponent. Reductio ad absurdum can proceed without any commitment to the existence of the means of valid knowledge. Sri Harsha would hold that we can prescind from a committment to the existence of pramanas and still offer therapy to the holder of faulty definitions of experience, memory, perception, and recognition.

Sri Harsha states:
Not at all. We do not say that debate is to be undertaken having admitted that the means of valid knowledge do not exist, but that debate may be undertaken by individuals who are indifferent to the question whether the means of valid knowledge do exist or whether the means of valid knowledge do not exist, and yet carry on just as you do having admitted their existence. Were this not the case, even this fault adduced by you, having misconstrued our viewpoint to be that the means of valid knowledge do not exist, could not be stated.
(trans. by Phyllis Granoff from Philosophy and Argument in Late Vedanta: Sri Harsha's KhKh)

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad on Non-Realism

While I have been thinking about the prevalence of 'non' as a prefix for some very important aspects of Advaita eg. non-dualism, non-difference (of cause and effect) and so forth I have been intrigued by Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad's concept of non-realism which seems at first blush to be a refined position between idealism and realism. This interests me greatly and so I have been scouting around reading here and there amongst his papers to try and find out more.

Ram-Prasad seems to have a poor grasp of what realism is and a fortiori non-realism subtle or gross must elude. What is one to make of this from a 1995 paper on Dreams and the Coherence of Experience

The traditional realist claim is that objects that experience presents as existing externally, do in fact exist internally. The denial of externality appeals both to those who doubt that experience is ever veridical (in other words, who doubt that the objects experience presents are ever exactly identical with existing objects) and also to those who think that experience is veridical only if ob jects are not external.

A simple succinct definition of Realism found in a Dictionary of Philosophy:

theory to the effect that entities of a certain category exist independently of what we think. A consequence of realism in this sense is that the entities are there to be discovered, and that ignorance and error is possible.

Further down he states:
Both the Cartesian skeptic and the Berkeleyan idealist use dreams to challenge externality: a subject takes it that there is experience of a world of external objects, but there need be no such world as seems to be thus experienced. Cognition that there are external objects could therefore occur without such objects.

Did Berkeley use dreams to establish his immaterialism? Was it not a logical following through of Locke's primary and secondary qualities?
So Non-Realism is perhaps not ready to join the big Nons yet. If anyone out there knows more, please relate.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Who put the A in Advaita (1)

Who put the A in Advaita? there are so many of these 'nots' in the philosophy of Advaita that it might be useful to quicknote them.

First of all there is a dvaita or not-two or non-dualism. We are accustomed to think in terms of polar concepts so we look for the opposite of nondualism (running the suffix into the noun). Would that be holism or something after that fashion? Now that has some merit though not covering precisely what non-dualism attempts to adumbrate. We are getting past the dualism of subject and object and trying to embrace a vision in which the two are one or both subject and object are both aspects of the one reality. That sounds good but it leaves out the central principle of adhyasa which is that neither subject nor object are freestanding realities in their own right. The cognitive event in which both are blended is a shining forth of fundamental reality. So the anirvachanya position re normal perception which means 'not definable as specifically real or unreal' comes into play. Another way of stating the Subject/Object divide is that the divide is real as a manifestation or appearance. Things as they appear are limiting adjuncts of the Real which means that any attempt at definition of the Self collapses. It cannot be grasped in a single apprehension in an objective way.

Through what, 0 Maitreyi, should one know the Knower?' (Brh.Up. IV. v. I5), it is concluded: That which has been described as "Not this, not this." ' Besides, thus only can the statement, 'I will instruct you (about Brahman),' be relevant. That is to say, if the Sruti wants to teach the transcendent nature of the individual self-which is free from all differentiations of limiting adjuncts, then only can this assertion be fulfilled.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Yellow Vest (Veist buí) protest

The yellow vests have arrived at a hotel near where I live. Some of them are working there turning the defunct hotel in a direct provision centre. Others are protesting the placement of a possible 300 migrants claiming asylum there. You can see why they might be annoyed as the village just up the road has a population of 1,400. The protesters are well settled in with a portaloo and some canteen facility signalling a determination to stay as long as it takes. As everybody knows most of these proposed as residents are economic migrants. At the end of a long process of review, which is a modest source of revenue for young lawyers, a large percentage will be refused asylum and be deported. Others will drift away into the black economy working for a pittance. They get an allowance of 39.80 for adults and 29.80 Euro for children plus food and lodging.

Current state of row:
oughterard row

Extract from an Irish Times report on asylum seekers (Jan.2019):
However, while Syria remains a highly volatile war zone, more people from Georgia claimed asylum in Ireland in the first 11 months of 2018 than Syrians.
After the 409 Georgian nationals, there were 383 Albanians and then came Syrians, some 326 of whom had claimed asylum in the Republic to the end of November.
Zimbabwe was the next most represented nation, with 257 of its citizens claiming asylum here, followed by Pakistan; some 230 new asylum claimants in 2018 declared Pakistani citizenship.