Thursday, March 14, 2013

my answers to some of your comments about the gita

as usual, i need to find a better space of reflection. here it goes:

1- i agree with specific points made by veronica, lars, geoffrey, ninie and carolina. for them the truth is sort of "already inside." the words in the gita just propitiate a rediscovery. valerie took the discussion home when she talked about our dharma (duty) to engage action and stop dithering.
martin's point of action "in the moment" rings true. the essence of bushido is to die everyday. knowing this "readiness" in action is the essence of dharma.

2- regarding jose's point about the gita advocating moral relativism:

if relativism means that there's no right and wrong (it's all relative), or that right and wrong is relative to history, culture, self, etc, this is NOT what YOGA stipulates. the three yogas: bhakti, karma and jnana refer to a clear path of righteousness, i.e., thinking, living and knowing the good. a path surprisingly close (save the immense meditation component in YOGA) to aristotle's idea of arete. in this realm there is a clear right and wrong. as you know the regulation principle is ahimsa.

it's here that manny was referring to this "getting better" without reaching a limit (of perfection?). if i understood correctly he saw this "getting better" as a tension. why? the move is one of gradual improvement. how could one become the best one can be without the tribulations of change?

krishna's point is a metaphor for action (the sort that becomes "sovereign" by taking one's action off the economy of means-to-end). to vinicious i'd say: there is nothing utilitarian in the path of action put forth in the gita.

what's confusing is krishna's counsel to fight now, justified with reasons as high and supervenient as the ONE itself. but take the perspective of BRAHMAN for a second:  is there right and wrong in this heights of causation?  as more and more layers of history are added we literally witness how becoming "becomes." up there is just undifferentiated oneness. at the level of BRAHMAN, predator and prey are the same. how else can you explain ONEness with words?

3- fabio's interesting twist of krishna as "evil man whispering" reminds me of descartes' evil genius (malin génie) in his Méditations sur la philosophie (a very readable book in french by the way). i take the point because it makes for a great discussion.

surprise: the devil doesn't have to come back from gehenna. veronica's point is that evil dwells within oneself!

first outside: how do we deal with an external malin génie? well, the world is full of them: from wall street, to politicians, to religious leaders. from misguided parents, to pseudo friends, to stupid teachers. in fact, to really problematize fabio's point we'd have to factor the possibility that the evil genius is no genius. if by "genius" one has an edge, then misleading me just "for the sport" is as ignorant as me buying into it. there must be a better "genius" than that. the devil feels victorious to the degree that he really persuades me. so, convincing takes two.

keep in mind: ignorance is a two way street.

descartes' genius is worthy of his name because he plays for the sake of truth (truly on the other side). he knows what he believes. he also wants me to believe a lie. 

is arjuna that naïve? i advance three possibilities?

1- arjuna pretends to argue, i.e, "play along" and try to "fool" the genius (i.e., he's not trying to find out truth, but to argue as a devil's advocate). does arjuna really cares for truth?

2- arjuna argues in good faith until either he or krishna "win." let's call this option "socrates' hope."

the third one is weird, but here is goes,

3- arjuna inadvertently fools himself by fooling the genius. here they both lose: krishna, because he's not appearing "as good" anymore (how could he, if arjuna is not falling for his "angel of light" routine? remember, this is all a matter of perception!), arjuna, because he forfeits the opportunity to extract a formidable lesson, winning the truth from the devil himself! this is more than dr. faustus ever bargained for.

now let's go inside: arjuna knows what has to be done. he only needs a push, this is what we call a volition. but the reason buttressing the volition needs to be argued successfully. that's why philosophy has been presented as midwife for truth, what socrates called maieutics.

can one lie to oneself? indeed, this is the "bad faith" (la mauvaise foi) which sartre defined as "a lie to oneself, on condition that we distinguish the lie to oneself from lying in general". why?

according to sartre, the liar, in order to complete his task, must maintain complete lucidity about some truth that he possesses. one cannot lie without possessing some personal truth, and lying is different than simply being in error.

(in case you want to talk, say it here. comments are open). 

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