332 Pages
English
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Knowledge and Human Liberation

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332 Pages
English

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An exploration of the multidimensional struggle for modern human liberation, and an investigation of how social, spiritual and self-knowledge influence the journey towards this end.


Human liberation has become an epochal challenge in today’s world, requiring not only emancipation from oppressive structures but also from the oppressive self.  It is a multidimensional struggle and aspiration in which knowledge – self, social and spiritual – can play a transformative role. ‘Knowledge and Human Liberation: Towards Planetary Realizations’ undertakes such a journey of transformation, and seeks to rethink knowledge vis-à-vis the familiar themes of human interest, critical theory, enlightenment, ethnography, democracy, pluralism, rationality, secularism and cosmopolitanism.


Knowledge today is imprisoned not only in structures of domination but also in varieties of dualisms – expert and the lay, cognitive and emotional – and thus we are in need of a new art of cultivating non-duality and wholeness. The present book seeks to nurture the garden of liberatory and transformational knowledge by presenting alternative pathways gathered from many different global locations and traditions. Discussing diverse thinkers such as Sri Aurobindo, Jürgen Habermas, Erasmus, Kant, Tocqueville, Gandhi, Foucault, Daya Krishna, Ramachandra Gandhi and Martha Nussbaum, this text seeks to rethink some important themes in the contemporary discourse of knowledge, including: knowledge as power; knowledge as emancipatory interest; evolution; rationality; power; freedom; anthropology; history; law; compassion and confrontation; epistemology; ontology; political consumerism and responsible consumption; civil society and self-development; and rights.


Offering a groundbreaking and interdisciplinary exploration of ideas about social transformation, ‘Knowledge and Human Liberation’ bridges both Eastern and Western philosophy to create a definition of transformative knowledge that defies Eurocentric thinking. Via the discourses of sociology, philosophy, religion and spirituality, the text rethinks the relationship between knowledge production and ideas to offer a unique perspective on the issue of human liberation in today’s oppressive world. The volume also features a Foreword by John Clammer (United Nations University, Tokyo) and an Afterword by Fred Dallmayr (University of Notre Dame).


Preface; Acknowledgments; Foreword by John Clammer; Introduction: The Calling of Transformative Knowledge; PART I – NURTURING THE GARDEN OF TRANSFORMATIONAL KNOWLEDGE: ROOTS AND VARIANTS: 1. Knowledge and Human Liberation: Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond; 2. Beyond West and East: Co-evolution and the Calling of a New Enlightenment and Non-duality; 3. The Modern Prince and the Modern Sage: Transforming Power and Freedom; 4. Kant and Anthropology; 5. Tocqueville as an Ethnographer of American Prison Systems and Democratic Practice; PART II – RETHINKING KNOWLEDGE: 6. Some Recent Reconsiderations of Rationality; 7. Contemporary Challenges to the Idea of History; 8. Rule of Law and the Calling of “Dharma”: Colonial Encounters, Post-colonial Experiments and Beyond; 9. Compassion and Confrontation: Dialogic Experiments with Traditions and Pathways to New Futures; 10. Rethinking Pluralism and Rights: Meditative Verbs of Co-realizations and the Challenges of Transformations; 11. The Calling of a New Critical Theory: Self-Development, Inclusion of the Other and Planetary Realizations; PART III – ASPIRATIONS AND STRUGGLES FOR LIBERATION:TOWARDS PLANETARY REALIZATIONS:12. Rethinking the Politics and Ethics of Consumption: Dialogues with “Swadeshi” Movements and Gandhi; 13. Swaraj as Blossoming: Compassion, Confrontation and a New Art of Integration; 14. Civil Society and the Calling of Self-Development; 15. The Calling of Practical Spirituality: Transformations in Science and Religion and New Dialogues on Self, Transcendence and Society; 16. Spiritual Cultivation for a Secular Society; 17. Cosmopolitanism and Beyond: Towards Planetary Realizations; Afterword by Fred Dallmayr; Advance Praise

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Published 15 February 2013
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EAN13 9780857289346
Language English
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Knowledge and Human Liberation
Knowledge and Human Liberation
Towards Planetary Realizations
Ananta Kumar Giri
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2013 by ANTHEM PRESS 7576 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
Copyright © Ananta Kumar Giri 2013
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library CataloguinginPublication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data Giri, Ananta Kumar. Knowledge and human liberation : towards planetary realizations / Ananta Kumar Giri. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 9780857284525 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Knowledge, Theory of–Philosophy. 2. Liberation theology. I. Title. BD161.G57 2012 121–dc23 2012042227
ISBN13: 978 0 85728 452 5 (Hbk) ISBN10: 0 85728 452 5 (Hbk)
Cover illustration by Sarat Kumar Panda (Odisha, India).
This title is also available as an eBook.
For
M. S. Swaminathan S. N. Eisenstadt SangJin Han Piet Strydom Des Gasper P. V. Rajagopal Ashgar Ali Engineer Betsy Taylor and Herbert Reid
who are engaged in inspiring efforts to make knowledge part of our current multi dimensionalsadhanaand struggles for liberation.
Preface
Acknowledgments
Foreword John Clammer
C
O
N
TEN
Introduction The Calling of Transformative Knowledge
Part I
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Part II
6.
7.
8.
9.
TS
Nurturing the Garden of Transformational Knowledge: Roots and Variants
Knowledge and Human Liberation: Jürgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo and Beyond
Beyond West and East: Coevolution and the Calling of a New Enlightenment and Nonduality
The Modern Prince and the Modern Sage: Transforming Power and Freedom
Kant and Anthropology
Tocqueville as an Ethnographer of American Prison Systems and Democratic Practice
Rethinking Knowledge
Some Recent Reconsiderations of Rationality
Contemporary Challenges to the Idea of History
Rule of Law and the Calling ofDharma: Colonial Encounters, Postcolonial Experiments and Beyond
Compassion and Confrontation: Dialogic Experiments with Traditions and Pathways to New Futures
i
x
xiii
xvii
3
5
1
3
1
7
9
9
1
3
9
119
127
139
165
viii
10.
11.
Part III
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
KNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN LIBERATION
Rethinking Pluralism and Rights: Meditative Verbs of Corealizations and the Challenges of Transformations
The Calling of a New Critical Theory: SelfDevelopment, Inclusion of the Other and Planetary Realizations
Aspirations and Struggles for Liberation: Towards Planetary Realizations
Rethinking the Politics and Ethics of Consumption: Dialogues with “Swadeshi” Movements and Gandhi
Swaraj as Blossoming: Compassion, Confrontation and a New Art of Integration
Civil Society and the Calling of SelfDevelopment
The Calling of Practical Spirituality: Transformations in Science and Religion and New Dialogues on Self, Transcendence and Society
Spiritual Cultivation for a Secular Society
Cosmopolitanism and Beyond: Towards Planetary Realizations
Afterword Fred Dallmayr
Advance Praise
171
185
205
219
233
249
265
287
303
307
PREFACE
We should do our utmost to encourage the Beautiful, for the Useful encourages itself. —Goethe
By their capacity for the immortal deed, by their ability to leave nonperishable traces behind, men, their individual mortality notwithstanding, attain an immortality of their own and prove themselves to be of a “divine” nature. —Hannah Arendt,The Human Condition(1958, 19)
Oh People! Behold, we have created you all out of a male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another. The Quran49: 3
…Why should the hermeneutic model of understanding, which is derived from everyday conversation, and since Humboldt, has been methodology refined from the practice of textual interpretation, suddenly break down at the boundaries of our own culture, of our own way of life and traditions? —Jürgen Habermas,The Divided West(2006, 17)
My desire for knowledge is intermittent, but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence. I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before – a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. It is the lighting up of the mist by the sun… Live free, child of the mist – and with respect to knowledge we are all children of the mist. —Henry David Thoreau “Walking” (1947, 623–4)
Human liberation is an epochal challenge now which means not only liberation from oppressive structures but also liberation from the oppressive self. It is a multi dimensional struggle and aspiration for realizing beauty, dignity and dialogues in which knowledge – self, social as well as spiritual – can play a transformative role.
x
KNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN LIBERATION
The present book in our hands,Knowledge and Human Liberation: Towards Planetary Realizationstransformation and seeks to rethink knowledge, undertakes such a journey of visàvis familiar themes such as human interest, critical theory, enlightenment, ethnography, ethnocentrism, democracy, pluralism, rationality, ethics, aesthetics, secularism, spirituality, and cosmopolitanism, among others. The book brings together my engagement with these issues over the last two decades. In this period it has been inspiring for me to have been in communication and conversation with nine seekers of our Mother Earth who have dedicated themselves to pursuit of knowledge and human liberation in inspiring ways – M. S. Swaminathan, S. N. Eisenstadt, SangJin Han, Piet Strydom, Des Gasper, P. V. Rajagopal, Ashgar Ali Engineer, Betsy Taylor and Herbert Reid. M. S. Swaminathan is the noted scientist and public intellectual of our world who has continuously striven to enrich human lives through innovations in science, technology and appropriate public policy. For Swaminathan, “We should neither worship nor discard technologies because they are old or new. What is important is to use knowledge and skills in manners that children can be born for happiness and not just for existence. We need an ecology and technology of hope and not of despair.” In his dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda,Revolutions: To Green the Environment, To Grow the Human Heart, Swaminathan also tells us: “The movement towards multilateralism and globalization must be not merely economic, but also spiritual. What we need most is spiritual globalization… By spiritual globalization, I do not mean that every one should belong to the same religion. I am speaking of building security in the wider sense of human dignity and gender equity.” In his recent works, Swaminathan talks about realization of biohappiness through “sustainable and equitable use of natural resources for more jobs and income.” At 87, Swaminathan continues to embody inspiring vision and strivings. In all our meetings I have been inspired by his indefatigable energy, enthusiasm and generosity. S. N. Eisenstadt was a great seeker of humanity who has explored so many dimensions of sociological knowledge. Until his very last moment (he passed away on 2 September 2010) he was active in his quest and he so kindly nurtured so many individuals and institutions around the world for more seeking and for thinking beyond the box. His latest project of “Multiple Modernities” has generated creative research work and debates around the world. I first met him in his home in Jerusalem in July 2002, and since then until his very last days Eisenstadt was such a kind source of support and encouragement. SangJin Han is a creative and critical sociologist from Korea who took part in the struggle for democracy there and plays a key role as a public intellectual in the post authoritarian Korea. It has been enriching on my part to have been in communication and collaboration with him over the years. I first saw his edited bookHabermas and the Korean DebateKentucky where I was a visitingthe University of the library of  in fellow, in fact working with Betsy Taylor and Herbert Reid, in the fall of 2002. I then emailed him. We met; his work is a model of sociological engagement with knowledge giving rise to rigorous empirical work, grounded normative vision such as his concept of “middling grassroots” (as different from mere “middle class” animated by a vision