Sunday, August 13, 2006

Inspiration, heightened sensitivity

Postmodern spirituality A dialogue in five parts Part IV: The positive Core Concept atthe Center of late Postmodern Philosophy: Inspiration Roland Benedikter THE CORE PROCEEDING AND THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LATE POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHY: INSPIRATION
Let's put it this way: Postmodernist thinkers tried to make one step beyond modernity - to go one step further than classical modernity (which's reign ended, in a certain sense, with 1968, when the fundaments of emancipative postmodernity where laid). They tried to develop a more evolved way of being modern. They tried, as I said, to transform the first enlightenment into a second enlightenment: From a diachronic into a synchronistic, “doubled” consciousness of thinking - in the very moment it happens...
As a postmodernist, you are, in every second, very critical towards your own thoughts, towards the contents of thinking you are producing. You are, in every moment, very sensitive about what is going on in your mind. You are sensitive about what is said by yourself; about what is said about yourself by the language you are using; about what you actually say; and about the hidden difference to what you really wanted to say with those words you were pronouncing. Jean Francois Lyotard called this “synchronistic” sensitivity a kind of “heightened sensitivity or attention” or a “strengthened aesthetic suspense of mind” - saying that it would be more a feeling or a basic human attitude in the “reign of the will” than a thought in the traditional sense. He said this sensitivity derived from “deconstructive” freedom (cf. Jean Francois Lyotard: Philosophy And Painting In Their Epoch Of Experiment, 1981. In: Andrew Benjamin, ed.: The Lyotard Reader, Blackwell 1989).
And he said that this heightened sensitivity occurs in the very moment it is perceived by the subject. It is, by its basic characteristic, a self-conscious sensitivity of thinking, which he linked to the growing “erotization of the will” we talked of earlier. And indeed: That permanently self-conscious sensitivity towards the activities of your own mind is what postmodernity is about...
Now, the important thing is that postmodern philosophy made of this feeling (or altered, synchronic sensitivity) a whole cultural paradigm, a whole socio-political program and the core goal of the enlightend emancipation of the subject in general. It is very important to take that aspect in consideration, in order to avoid falling into the prejudice that postmodern thinking is about critizising reason. Yes, it is, to a certain extend. But the main focus is on the “doubling” or “making synchronistic” of the self-aware mind...
I think you can call such a synchronically heightened attention, which feels like a “permanent origin out of itself” (Jean Gebser) - an inspiration. Inspiration: That is the true name for that state of mind. Inspiration, from my point of view, is the congenial state of mind of postmodernity...
Because of these core characteristics, the state of mind of inspiration, according to Steiner, seems to have some “parental” relationships with two central cognitive proceedings of the postmodern subject (even if those proceedings, as I said, remain, so far, in most cases pre- or subconscious, and are not fully reflected, but only instinctively done by postmodern philosophy and its core method of deconstruction):
- Inspiration coincides with the proceeding of “the self-awareness of the idea in the very moment it is being born”, which is the core presumption for a “free subject”. Because “the (postmodern) subject must simultaneously contrapose itself to the idea which is raising in its mind and thus observe it in the very moment it occurs; if not, the subject falls under the reign of the idea and becomes unfree” (cf. the “bible of postmodern anarchism”: Rudolf Steiner: The Philosophy Of Freedom. Principles Of A Modern World View, 1894. In: Collected Works No. 4, Dornach 1997).
- Inspiration coincides with observing the permanent emergence of the “living sphere” of the “individual moral intuition” as core experience of a “higher self” or “witness” parallel to my ego - with “this inner voice that the subject has to identify with free conscience”. (Cf. Steiner, ibid.; cf. Erich Fromm: Beyond Illusions. The importance of Marx and Freud, Munich 1989; cf. Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber in Dialogue: Moral Judgment in a Postmodern World. In: What Is Enlightenment, Issue 24: Morality Bites! Searching for Ethics in a Postmodern Age, February-April 2004).
So summing up, you could say that, if we try to put the whole core proceeding and methodology, but also the problem and goal of postmodern englightenment into one single concept, into one signal word, than we should choose “Inspiration”. Postmodernity is about the state of mind of “Inspiration”, because “Inspiration” is congenial to “deconstruction”. Inspiration is the result of deconstruction – a pure flux and flow of a mind which became conscious of its own pre-conceptual life-stream and concept-building “happening”. That exactly is, what postmodern philosophy, at least in its late period, was (and is) about, with its whole heart and soul - but still without knowing fully what it is doing and what it is searching for.
Inspiration is a “different” (or diffĂ©rend, as Jean Francois Lyotard said) kind of aesthetic, a different kind of feeling, a different kind of approach to reality – and, first of all, it is a different approach towards your normal ego, towards yourself. That approach is not anti-rational or irrational, not at all. Instead, it is another form, in my opinion, a more evolved form of rationality. At least in its goals, in what it wants. And at least in those crucial dimensions of “borderline rationality” which some of the main postmodern thinkers, in their late works, tried to evoke and to understand.
This kind of “sensitive” or “perceiving” rationality seems to lead almost necessarily to a certain point beyond modern rationality, but always hoping that it could include the best of it and enlarge it into a broader horizon. It seems to lead from the “splitted” rationality of modernity to a kind of “double-I”- (or ego/witness-) rationality of postmodernity. It seems to lead to a certain dimension of “witness” rationality in the form of Inspiration, so to say. And exactly this may be one possibility of a sustainable bridge between the European-Western concepts of “the productive void” of Postmodernity on the one hand and the Eastern concepts of “nothingness” at the other hand. PART ONE PART FIVE

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