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Critical Thinking for Transformative Justice

Critical Thinking for Transformative Justice

Nondualism Main

Nondualism Main articles: Nondualism, New Age, Syncretism and Neo-Advaita A popular western understanding sees "enlightenment" as "nondual consciousness", "a primordial, natural awareness without subject or object". It is used interchangeably with Neo-Advaita. This nondual consciousness is seen as a common stratum to different religions. Several definitions or meanings are combined in this approach, which makes it possible to recognize various traditions as having the same essence. According to Renard, many forms of religion are based on an experiential or intuitive understanding of "the Real" This idea of nonduality as "the central essence" is part of a modern mutual exchange and synthesis of ideas between western spiritual and esoteric traditions and Asian religious revival and reform movements. Western predecessors are, among others, New Age, Wilber's synthesis of western psychology and Asian spirituality, the idea of a Perennial Philosophy, and Theosophy. Eastern influences are the Hindu reform movements such as Aurobindo's Integral Yoga and Vivekananda's Neo-Vedanta, the Vipassana movement, and Buddhist modernism. A truly syncretistic influence is Osho and the Rajneesh movement, a hybrid of eastern and western ideas and teachings, and a mainly western group of followers. ______ The second phase of Frankfurt School critical theory centres principally on two works: Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) and Adorno's Minima Moralia (1951). The authors wrote both works during the Institute's exile in America. While retaining much of a Marxian analysis, in these works critical theory shifted its emphasis. The critique of capitalism turned into a critique of Western civilization as a whole. Indeed, the Dialectic of Enlightenment uses the Odyssey as a paradigm for the analysis of bourgeois consciousness. Horkheimer and Adorno already present in these works many themes that have come to dominate the social thought of recent years; indeed, their exposition of the domination of nature as a central characteristic of instrumental rationality in Western civilization was made long before ecology and environmentalism had become popular concerns. The analysis of reason now goes one stage further. The rationality of Western civilization appears as a fusion of domination and of technological rationality, bringing all of external and internal nature under the power of the human subject. In the process, however, the subject itself gets swallowed up, and no social force analogous to the proletariat can be identified that will enable the subject to emancipate itself. Hence the subtitle of Minima Moralia: "Reflections from Damaged Life". In Adorno's words, “ For since the overwhelming ” objectivity of historical movement in its present phase Page 35 of 45

consists so far only in the dissolution of the subject, without yet giving rise to a new one, individual experience necessarily bases itself on the old subject, now historically condemned, which is still for-itself, but no longer initself. The subject still feels sure of its autonomy, but the nullity demonstrated to subjects by the concentration camp is already overtaking the form of subjectivity itself. Consequently, at a time when it appears that reality itself has become the basis for ideology, the greatest contribution that critical theory can make is to explore the dialectical contradictions of individual subjective experience on the one hand, and to preserve the truth of theory on the other. Even dialectical progress is put into doubt: "its truth or untruth is not inherent in the method itself, but in its intention in the historical process." This intention must be oriented toward integral freedom and happiness: "the only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption". Adorno goes on to distance himself from the "optimism" of orthodox Marxism: "beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption [i.e. human emancipation] itself hardly matters." From a sociological point of view, both Horkheimer's and Adorno's works contain a certain ambivalence concerning the ultimate source or foundation of social domination, an ambivalence which gave rise to the "pessimism" of the new critical theory over the possibility of human emancipation and freedom. This ambivalence was rooted, of course, in the historical circumstances in which the work was originally produced, in particular, the rise of National Socialism, state capitalism, and mass culture as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology. For Adorno and Horkheimer, state intervention in the economy had effectively abolished the tension in capitalism between the "relations of production" and "material productive forces of society"—a tension which, according to traditional Marxist theory, constituted the primary contradiction within capitalism. The previously "free" market (as an "unconscious" mechanism for the distribution of goods) and "irrevocable" private property of Marx's epoch have gradually been replaced by the centralized state planning and Page 36 of 45

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